Do you believe it’s possible to be too kind? Do you sometimes have an uncontrollable desire to sort out other people’s lives? That somehow you are responsible for their welfare, happiness and future? That if you don’t intervene in some way all will be lost? Well that used to be me too!
Because I could make a difference in someone’s life I felt I should. Then one day I realised I had got it all wrong.
This is what happened. My husband and I used to run a management consultancy. We had a great team of people who worked with us all over the world. One Christmas when the office was almost empty a guy turned up for an interview. Nobody knew anything about this supposed interview but the guy seemed very nice and rather strangely he had a Deepak Chopra book under his arm. Somehow that seemed like a good sign so I agreed to meet him. He was a delightful guy but it wasn’t clear quite what role he thought he was interviewing for. So I told him to go away and come back with a suggestion for what he would like to do for our company.
Meanwhile I spoke to my husband about this guy, we’ll call him Brian to protect the innocent. That’s not his name, his name was really Gordon – no it wasn’t I’m just joking. We arranged for him to come back in to present a proposal for what he might do for us. He came in, was charming and we decided to take him on. We often employed people purely on a gut feeling. Usually it worked out well.
Anyway ‘Brian’ came in on a senior role and it didn’t work out. He found it hard to convey our offering to any potential customers. He just didn’t bring in any significant business. My husband, not unreasonably, after a while felt that we needed to address this issue.
This is where my God complex came into play. ‘Brian’ was in his late 50’s at the time and I felt he would struggle to find another senior role. I suggested we just found ‘Brian’ something else to do within our organisation. My husband is sweet hearted and I can be very persuasive so that’s what he did. Sadly ‘Brian’ didn’t really fair any better in this new role. He was earning quite a lot of money and bringing in very little business. In any other organisation not a sustainable situation. To be honest, despite our ethical business model, not really sustainable in ours either. So to help him on his way I would walk through the office silently willing him on. Hoping that this might be the day that he landed the big one. As if my attention alone could bring about a reversal of his fortunes.For two years I dreamt up spurious reasons why we shouldn’t show ‘Brian’ the door. Without me looking out for him his whole world was going to collapse. It was that obvious to me. Then something amazing happened. I got pregnant, actually that’s more amazing than you might think but that’s another story, and eventually left to become a full time mother. My attention was tied up with looking after someone else’s emerging universe. My husband took this hiatus in interference to have ‘the chat’ with ‘Brian’. They both agreed that after two years it might be time to call it a day.
I was very sad to hear this. What would become of ‘Brian’ now I wasn’t there to protect him any longer? Well guess what? He immediately found another job at a senior level selling a product that he knew how to sell. Within the first quarter he was their top salesman and was off to the beach in Mexico on President’s club. He was a rip roaring success.
My actions had kept him failing for two years. All those positive vibes I’d been sending in his direction and then finally I realised that he hadn’t been my responsibility. My interference hadn’t done him any favours. So not only wasn’t I playing God very effectively I wasn’t even being a very good guardian angel.
Lesson learnt. Well until the next time!
There is a fine line though, don’t you think, between compassion and feeling totally responsible? Maybe it’s when you are stopping someone from sorting out their own issues by taking on those issues and trying to sort them yourself. I believe everyone has their own lessons to learn in life and we can’t learn them for someone else. But sometimes when we have the means to make it easier it can be very tempting. It can be difficult to know just how far to go. But then that’s a lesson too!