Me, Myself and I
I am a control freak. I want everything just so. If something does not conform to my grand design, and I have a grand design for everything I do, then my anxiety kicks in big time. That is why leading people is so hard for me. People are messy, unpredictable, unreliable and never on schedule with my program. Even the ones I think I can rely on cannot be counted on to do simple tasks in a simple time frame. It is exhausting being like this. It is a constant pressure on me because once a timer is set in my head for something, every second that we get closer to zero makes me nervous.
I had an incident the other day, one of dozens that I have had. But a pattern of these has started to emerge. A few friends invited me to a Badminton game. The first guy told me to be there 9:30, but the second guy said they play at 10. I got a lift from a girl who was also coming. We lost our way and I almost lost my mind. I kept directing anger towards her because we were getting late. I could not imagine how someone could be this inefficient or this disorganized. Like I am such a pillar of normalcy. This blaming is classic me and it reflects in a lot of us as well. I need to learn to keep my cool, understand the real consequences of something instead of constantly worrying about the perceived consequences in my head. When we were driving around, my worry was we would miss our chance to get a game, that the court would be full. Turns out it was, but not because we were late, because the guy who was supposed to get there first and pay for it had just missed getting a slot. We played Table Tennis for an hour, then Badminton for another hour after that, when we finally got a slot. What were the consequences of us being late? None.
And while this may not seem to apply to work situations where deadlines are in fact real, there are a lot of parallels. I overthink things too much, overstate the importance of tasks and am too aggressive with time. Its just the way I am, I do tasks in serial order and as quickly as possible. I am the first to fill out surveys, respond to emails. So I am an amazing individual contributor to things because of this crazy efficiency and speed that I bring to my work. But when I am put in charge of others, I lose my patience. I cannot understand how and why people can be careless and inefficient with their time, or how they can not do things on time. But that’s just how people are and I need to let things go.
Delays have consequences, but not ones that are severe or damaging all the time. I need to take things slowly and think through the actions that I take. Leadership is hard because people are hard. But it is harder because overcoming our own nature is perhaps hardest of all. I am fighting to become a better person, a better version of the self I am now. I can never let go of my time bound, efficient core. But I need to put it to positive use when I deal with people. I will inevitably fail in this. But having recognized myself for who I really am, I am perhaps a step closer to controlling my behaviour.
If you stop to think about that last thought, that is the ultimate control freak fantasy. I may as well have wished myself to be a robot.