“Why don’t they put more time and attention to that client? If they don’t, they might lose them.”

“Can’t they see I would be excellent in that position? Why don’t they consider me?”

“Don’t they understand that if they’d just have more team building activities throughout the year everyone would work better together? Collaboration clearly improved after our yearly retreat.”

“Why don’t they spend a little extra money on the furniture in our waiting area? At least they could provide fresh tea/coffee and relaxing (or energizing) music for guests! Seriously, don’t they understand that we’ll have a better reputation, and therefore more customers, if we did?”

Ever find yourself saying or thinking any of the above statements?

They, of course, are the responsible ones—the Owner, CEO, Executive in charge. And if they’d simply listen to you, then everyone would be better off, including them.

This is the way many of us think when faced with subpar performance, communities, election results, and even our workplaces. We see and hear a clear problem, even life-threatening, and chose to pass the buck, saying, “It’s not my responsibility.”

Those were almost the exact words Jackie said after I shared my concern about a slick spot on the pool deck where I narrowly avoided a serious injury. Concerned for others, I brought it to the attention of a long-term employee, Jackie, who casually said, “Yeah, we know about that spot.”

“You know that spot is there and you’re doing nothing to repair it?” I thought, loudly while desperately wanting to shake her and the entire leadership team.

Recognizing such an action (or even a complaint to the manager) would do no good, I’ve begun thinking about how I can help. Not because I have to—indeed, I’m a paying member—but because I love swimming there.

The idea of asking myself how I can help fix that slick spot was inspired by Dr. Marc Cesari, a chiropractor in Baltimore, Maryland. As the only employee in a new office space in Towson, Marc wanted the waiting area to be inviting, peaceful and filled with inspiration. Rather than wait for the Owner’s approval to outfit the waiting room, he bought the furniture, painted the walls and ensures cleanliness.

Wait, what—you paid for this furniture out of your own pocket? It’s not your business—you’re his employee. Is he going to reimburse you at least?” I asked.

“Yes, I did pay for it, and without asking for permission to be reimbursed. If he can’t see the value of this furniture, then I’ll eat the cost to ensure I get to work in a space I’m proud of,” he responded almost as if everyone should behave in the same way.

Indeed, such thinking aids greatly in getting the results we want. In fact, it prompted me to send a message to the manager asking how I can help remedy the situation. Not that I know a thing about pool decks, but I’d certainly be happy to sand it down if that would help.

What do you find yourself irritated with or complaining about? What can you do today to be a part of the solution?

Here’s to Your Greatness,

Misti Burmeister

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