Elsa is going through a rough patch at work. Professionally, her focus is on quality results and on consistently satisfying the people she works for and the people she serves. With the way things are at the moment, that is impossible to achieve.
A further, I consider strange, complication is that the people she works for aren't unhappy or even mildly dissatisfied with her performance.
John and I have watched her getting steadily more and more unhappy ever since she transferred to a new division within her company. It grieves me, since she seemed so satisfied a short time ago.
I was surprised to have her instead of John lend a hand getting me out of bed on Thursday morning. On her way to work, she had stopped at Daddypop's for breakfast, where she enjoyed eggs over easy while continuing to read Your Best Year Yet!, a book she is using as part of a discussion group and which she has not finished yet herself.
After breakfast, she headed toward work.
When she came to the turn off Easton Road onto Horsham Road, she found she could not take it. She realized that is she went into work, she would resign. What a sorry state of affairs to get to in two months. So, she came home.
Here is the part that never fails to amaze me. That night, she sent the head of the Personnel and the head of her division an e-mail, telling them how things were. She just laid it out, with warmth but without rancor. As Kevyn would put it, she just let them know what is.
I am proud of my children, of their individual gifts and accomplishments. The gift that most astonishes me with Elsa is her ability to grasp how she is feeling at a given moment and then - here is the very hard part for me - to give it worth, or what she would call value. For most of my life, I have respected and responded to how other people feel; Elsa has shown me what can happen when people respect and respond to how they feel.
The first time I saw that in action was when Elsa was getting ready to announce her engagement to John. My son Peter was unhappy, which was understandable, because John and Elsa had asked Pete Stevens to make the announcement.
Peter felt that etiquette left him that role and that he would have egg on his face if anyone else did the honors. For various reasons, Elsa wanted Pete to do the honors. Peter said, again understandably, that if he did not make the announcement, he could not come to the party. Elsa understood his feelings, respected them, and let him know that whatever he decided was best for him would be respected by her.
Well, I was fit to be tied. Peter had offered to bring the wine and beer and soda for the party. Where did it leave us that he was not planning on coming? For the days remaining between his decision to not come and the party, I kept at Elsa to put in a supply of wine and beer and soda. "Mama," Elsa would say, "Peter said that he would take care of the wine and beer and he never told me he had changed those plans."
She took him at his word. I could not understand her calm. This was the most important party of her life to date, and we might only have water, soda, coffee and tea.
The day of the party arrived. There was a sound at the front door and it was Peter, arrived with a full supply of wine and beer and soda, plus flats of glassware to use in place of our motley assortment.
He then set about doing everything in his power to make the engagement party the best bash possible. Pete Stevens made the announcement, as planned, and after that announcement was over, John and Elsa had Peter take a bow for being such an extraordinary host.
It amazed me – Elsa stayed true to her principles, Peter stayed true to his, and it worked out. By the time of the wedding, Peter had made himself a crucial part of the celebration and the happy couple were asked him to represent my own Pete at the reception.
Here is what I saw in that situation - when we are guided by our principles, things cannot go wrong. They might not work out the way we hoped, but they cannot go wrong.
The potential fly in the ointment is that to do that, we must first know ourselves well enough to know what our principles are in the first place. That is not easy, not easy at all. Elsa knew, based on her principles, the person to make the engagement announcement was Peter Bergonzi Stevens. It was not meant personally against her brother, although she understood how he and others could take it that way. Her attitude was that she was not responsible for how he or others took it, only for what she felt was the right thing to do for herself and for John and for their relationship.
It was an eye-opener for me to realize that standing up for what a person believes does not mean that she is standing against anyone else, in spite of
What a long preamble to saying how I feel about her boycotting work. As she wrote in her e-mail to her bosses, the quality of her work might meet
their standards but it does not meet her's.
She told them that if the simplest thing for the company would be to consider her resignation submitted, that would be acceptable to her since she can not work under impossible conditions. The same qualities that made her the current employee of the year made it impossible.
She was bold and open without making them "fighting words." As she explained to me when I told her what a good letter I thought it was, she was guided by The Four Agreements - being impeccible with her word, not taking the situation personally, not assuming anything about the situation, and doing her best.
Instead of getting her knickers in a twist and being crushed or outraged by the whole turn of events, she just let them know her reality and left it to them what the next step would be.
I have no idea whether or not Elsa will go to work on Monday. I know she is going in today to get things into order so others can follow up on outstanding issues. I know how much she cares about the company and the people and the management team - and she said so in her letter. I know that the head of Personnel replied to her e-mail that the company has does not want her to resign, that he was getting together with the head of the division to come up with a solution to the situation.
She has no idea or expectation of what her bosses might or might not do. That is up to them and their guiding business principles.
It amazes me that when people act from personally acknowledged "North Star" principles, things seem to ultimately work out. When people try to second guess others or ignore their own feelings or do whatever they can to smooth out touching situations instead of dealing with them, they usually end up throwing a spanner in the works. What do you think?
This posting is not at all what I expected to write. I sat down intending to talk about spring and having fun yesterday. Life is interesting, unexpected and glorious - that also never fails to amaze.
Love to all - CyberGram