It’s Not About You; It’s About Them

By Patrick McNerthney 

Like most of us, I’ve had all kinds of bosses, which means I’ve complained about all kinds of bosses. Tyrants, hucksters, disorganized messes, panic-mongers, “I’m in charge-ers,” egomaniacs (wait, is that the same thing…?. In any case, I’ve whined and bored friends and colleagues for hours on end, regailing them with the injustices I’ve suffered. 

Ah, but I was also a boss once. And I’m certain I was perfect. All of my staff who quit because I was intolerable? Well, I’m sure they realized their mistake years later.  

In fact, it took me a long time before  I could look back at these men and women I submitted to with any kind of empathy. One guy was just trying to make ends meet for his business, another was scared all the time and only wanted to hide his fear, and that woman? She was extremely intelligent, I mean to the point she just didn’t understand that not EVERYONE is that smart, so she had a hard time relating to us normals.

(She could solve this in like 22 seconds.)

None of this was my bosses’ fault. It’s just how they rolled, probably some combination of nature and nurture. 

The other thing I realized as I got older is that 1) I willingly chose to follow these “bad” bosses, so it’s silly to blame them for my poor decision-making and 2) it’s way easier to complain about bad behavior than it is to compliment and celebrate good behavior.

So decades – and I mean decades – later, I notice the number one subject my friends (I still have friends, I swear) constantly discuss is dissatisfaction at work. And within that, the biggest complaint is a lack of control over time and decisions, i.e. what we actually do, what we make, every day. 

Nobody likes being a cog in a wheel. People like to be seen.

(Although, given a choice here, I’d be the green one—not the little green one that says “Progress” (rah-rah!)but the BIG green one, lurking in the back.) 

But work has changed a lot – organizations are finding having a “horizontal” structure of trusting teams who are free to take action, make decisions, and contribute create far more value than a bunch of robots “doing what the boss says to do.” Which brings up a new challenge: autonomy, responsibility, the chance to have a voice and to act based on what we think MIGHT work, then OWN the success or failure. 

Which brings up a new dilemma: it’s way easier to not think and just do what we’re told, then complain about it later (and deny responsibility), than to be on the hook.

But here’s the solution to feeling trepidation and vulnerability for being on the hook — it’s not about you, it’s about them. The client, the customer, and YOUR residents or loved ones. Good Samaritan laws exist across the country to protect people who try and save victims of heart attacks, accidents, and other emergencies: you can’t get in trouble for trying to save somebody. And it’s time to apply your own Good Samaritan law to your work as a caregiver.

Fine Art Miracles (FAM) knows creative expression lifts the elderly, and children and adults with challenges out of the quagmire of social isolation – that place where anxiety and depression abound. That’s why they offer Art Therapy, Music Therapy, ART2GO packages (May’s featured lesson is Van Gogh’s Starry Nights!), Drama Therapy, Drumming & Exercise Therapy, and specifically for YOU to use in service of THEM. 

The act of simply making connects THEM to emotions and feelings they literally need to survive: confidence, self-worth, a sense of mastery, joy, pride, control over their own lives, and relevance to their own community and the “outside world.” 

And when it comes to being on the hook, trying something that “might not work,” just remember to apply your own Good Samaritan law to yourself. You can’t get in trouble for trying to make things better. And THEY deserve your efforts, no matter the outcome.

Sooooooo what are you waiting for? Give Fine Art Miracles a try! Reach out now, they’re happy to help

Well, there’s one boss who’s telling me to do some stuff right now so I better get going. Something about switching the laundry or some such nonsense? She’s definitely an “I’m-in-charge” type, but I rarely complain.  She’s my wife.


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