Friday, February 12, 2016

Choosing to Cheat

In his book Choosing to Cheat, author Andy Stanley proposes men in particular focus on family. Instead of always burning the candle on both ends on the job and thereby taking time away from family, men should not feeling guilty about sometimes robbing time and focus from work to spend with family. He’s not saying not to do an excellent job at your work – in fact he says we should (I’m probably taking this completely out of context, so don’t quote me).
An acquaintance knows his life expectancy is not long, perhaps as little as ten years. He is away from work sick and at the doctor almost as much as he’s there. His job appears to be of no great concern, perhaps because of this knowledge. Maybe disease and the treatments have taken a toll, making it hard to concentrate. Soon he may go out on disability. As his weight and health fluctuate he goes on and off the transplant list, which he seems hopeful will end his nightly treatments. Yet all I see him eat is fast food.
This reminds me of a quote from the movie Groundhog Day. Weatherman Phil Conners (Bill Murray) resigns himself to repeating the same day over and over. Eventually he makes an effort to serve the community, providing acts of service like saving a boy falling from a tree and fixing an old lady’s flat tire. He learns French and how to sculpt ice, reads literature, and learns to play the piano, all in an effort to woo the lovely Rita (Andie McDowell). In order to get out of repeating the same day over and over he tries to kill himself – jumping off a building, driving a pickup truck off a cliff, throwing a toaster in his bath, stepping in front of a train. But early on in his frustration Phil orders a tableful of food, and proceeds to eat it all in front of Rita.
Rita’s observation is key: “I like to see a man of advancing years throwing caution to the wind. It's inspiring in a way.” (Phil replies “My years are not advancing as fast as you might think”).

What would I do in this guy’s situation? Would I eat healthier and take better care of myself? Would I spend less time and effort on work? Perhaps his response is logical.
This makes me think. How long do I have to live? Why am I sitting at my desk for eleven hours a day stressing out and gaining weight? (besides having more bills that I can possibly pay). It’s obviously not healthy. I’m overweight from not exercising and eating too much - though I’m trying to turn that aircraft carrier around.  
Back in the 1990’s my former boss Steve Apollo inherited two perennially underperforming employees. He worked with them in an effort to make them more productive. When this didn’t work Steve eventually demoted them to the plant. One of the guys still toils there, periodically being reassigned when he wears out his welcome. The other guy eventually moved on, actually creating his own business in the steel industry. My acquaintance moved to town to for one job, and later transferred to another department before leaving the company. Later when two employees quit at the same time, a desperate boss re-hired him - despite the objections of many. Since then he’s been bounced around from department to department and boss to boss (seven in all). As workload increased several of his duties were taken away and given to others.
How should a company address such a situation? Admirably keep an underperformer (a veteran with VA benefits) employed so he’ll be insured? How should I respond, having observed him all these years? In love, without judgment or malice. Seventy times seven. After seven years (and many more than 490 times) this remains hard. I need to pray for this guy, for his health and his family. I’m such a terrible example at work: grouchy, irritable, gossiping, handling things the wrong way, complaining. So many I know have it much worse than me. It used to be easier to let God’s Holy Spirit work through me. Another aircraft carrier I need to let God turn around for me.

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