Tuesday, September 16, 2014

You Never Know

I don't talk about work much here on the old blog, but I really enjoy my job. I am in commercial real estate, and I manage a portfolio worth hundreds of millions of dollars. My job is is control expenses, manage a team, budgeting, keep operating systems functioning, ensure the assets look beautiful at all times, and many many other things. Its a high stress job, with lots of responsibilities, but I do enjoy it.

Sometimes, when things get really busy, I go to a place where I am not leading with love and kindness, rather, I am legalistic, demanding, and task oriented.

Given that I office at one of my assets, I see anything and everything wrong with the building. (Much to the chagrin of my team).  One thing that angers me is smokers who through their butts in the grass or in the flower beds rather than the ash trays. It is something that annoys me to no end, and I look for them every time I am outside.

For the past few weeks, there I noticed a gentleman at the building who rarely used the ash tray's. He threw his used butts in the drive way, in the grass, and in the flower beds that I paid thousands of dollars to install, and pay hundreds of dollars and month to upkeep. I watched him do this time and time again, and each time, I became more and more angry.

I sent memo's out to the entire building reminding them of the smoking policy and procedure. I emailed him company directly asking them to be cognizant of this, and still nothing changed. At one point, I went and picked up one of his used cigarette butts, put it in an plastic bag, and was ready to march up to his office and let him know he left something behind.

But then, I spoke with a man on my team who knew his story. It turns out, this man had been living in a hotel for the past 3 months. He wears the same clothes all week, because he does not have anything else to wear. He does not have a car, so he walks to work every day. Currently, he is going through a nasty divorce, and his wife cleaned out the bank account, locked him out of the house, and left him with almost nothing.

After hearing that, my heart dropped to my stomach. Was he doing something wrong? Yes. Was it making me mad? Yes. Had I stopped for moment to consider him and his situation? No.

Does he need to stop throwing those cigarette butts all over my property? Yes. Does he need to be dealt with? Yes.

But, I was reminded in that moment, that attitude begets attitude. Problems escalate, people get mad, upset, and hurt feelings when they perceive they have been wronged.

The problem with my situation was not my smoker friend, it was me. It was my attitude toward him and my approach to the problem. If I want a positive outcome, perhaps it would be better for me to tone down my attitude and lead with kindness rather than bitchiness.

Ultimately, it was more about me than him. I need to stop and think about others, not just myself. I have to think about how I want to hear news and information. Getting mad is easy, managing that anger, presenting it in a way that is more appealing is the challenge.

You never know what someone is going through. We have the choice to be a blessing or a curse to people. We can be the reason they smile that day, the reason they laugh, or the reason they feel even a glimmer of hope. We can build up rather than tear down. We can be the change we want to see.


Brooke said...

thanks for sharing. i tend to forget this, but we have no clue what other people are going through.

Anonymous said...

"Attitude begets attitude," you're so right. It's so easy to get fired up over something when we feel like we've been wronged or we take issue with something, without considering why the other person is behaving the way they are. Not that a bad situation excuses bad behavior, but you're so right in that adjusting how you approach a situation can do so much good. Thanks for the reminder :)