when you can’t stand it no more

Posted on Tuesday.9.22.2009



I had a terrible day at work yesterday. It was one of those days where you feel like you’re doing everything you can on your end and nothing, absolutely nothing, was being returned. Like one of my favorite childhood characters, Popeye says, “That’s all I can stands, cuz I can’t stands it n’more!” I suppose this is the battle for most people at their work.

I felt like I wasn’t getting through to my students. Not the lesson, not the material, not my leadership in the classroom, nothing. I went home feeling defeated, knowing that what awaited me was just another battle the next day.

This morning, I received this letter from a student who just yesterday copped an attitude (copied exactly):

Mr. Kim: sorry for my behavior yesterday to tell you the truth i realy do not know what happen. but yes im sorry yelling at you and my out burst i hope we have no problem with us a[nd] i hope i can stay in your class. my out burst was from a problem that was at home. I hope you understand from yesterday!

It reminds me that great work is great for a reason, it’s absolutely and utterly difficult. If you’re in a job where you’re dealing with people, you already know this. You encounter people on a daily basis that don’t serve your needs and refuse to fit into your idea of a great day.

My letter gave me three learning points for those of you working with people and leading teams:

  1. Everyone has their story. Are you willing to listen to it before assuming that the person is just a difficult arse?
  2. Changing a team member is not your responsibility. We don’t have the power to change anyone. As a leader, are you providing the environment for change and learning to take place? That, we have control of.
  3. If you’re leading, your responsibility is to bear pain. There are lots of great parts of leading, but that is not one of them.
Posted in: leadership, work