Open and Close Doors
Several of us were watching an old movie when the youth character cries out “No one will give me a chance.”
Hank snorts, “That’s so phony. We get lots of chances; we just don’t stick it out.
We turn the T.V. down to talk. “What do you mean?” I ask.
“Schools offer us this or that for our future but something stops us. We don’t have a birth certificate or my mother never fills out the forms or we don’t have a car to take us or something,” he says.
I talk about my consulting days when companies consistently complain of their staff being unable to implement goals for which they have so much passion. “To make something happen,” I say, “you need to be a part of a system that supports you in getting things done. Sometimes it is the initial paperwork and often it is just trusting that your effort will get you somewhere. And sometimes it is because the whole process is so unfamiliar that you don’t know how to swim through it.
Greg nods. “You don’t think that we can get things done if we don’t have support?”
I hesitate. “That is a hard question. In my experience, many complex issues pop up when a door opens. Making a decision on what to do has always been foundational to getting things done. The ‘how’ often slows us down or even stops us. When we do not have support, the smallest roadblock can destroy our decision. Many of you want a good job, or to stop drinking or to handle your anger. You want this passionately yet you get stopped. If no one supports your decision, sometimes you drown in unfamiliar territory. You don’t know what to expect or how to move forward.”
Greg revolves his baseball cap around his head. “I remember when I tried to get a job when I turned sixteen. After applying at five different places, I wanted to quit. I talked to Jack about how impossible everything was. He punched me on the arm a few times and asked me if I wanted to be a quitter. I tried again the next day and actually got a job washing dishes by the end of the day. I guess I just needed someone on my side to tell me what I already knew. Is that what you mean?”
Elaine asks, “So how do we get support if we don’t have it?”
“It begins with your initial decision to do something different,” I say. “From the beginning, you need to look at what makes you uncomfortable about ‘how’ you accomplish your decision. When you can anticipate your road blocks, you can begin to figure out what kind of support you need. Sometimes it is just finding out how to give a good interview or how to fill out the paperwork without hesitation. It is not easy but knowing ‘how’ to get something done is as important as ‘what’ you want. Does this make sense?”
Greg grins at me. “You have a lot of work teaching us ‘how’ to do things.”
I grin back and sigh internally. So many things yet to teach.