Not my circus, but my monkey behavior

There are many times that I’m not proud of my behavior. At worst, I try to justify it. At best, I decide to do something about it.

I did that last year in a work situation. My building merged with a staff from another building. All of the sudden, where there used to be familiar, smiling faces around the corners there were uncomfortable side glances from strangers. A merger of this type would be difficult in most circumstances, but I was one of the leaders of the building. So, I was in charge of leading a group of unfamiliar staff that didn’t reflect the work ethic of the previous staff I worked with.

I had issues with some of the more lax of these new co-workers. I didn’t have any respect for them. Unfortunately, I let that show in my behavior. It didn’t help that I was saddled with an exhaustive schedule. The combination nurtured an unhappy creature within me that wasn’t congenial to these newcomers. Also, I didn’t like the way things were being handled and I had no control over it. That frustration led me to be a human being I wasn’t proud to look at in the mirror by the end of the year.

This year I decided to treat the two people I treated coldly last year more kindly. I chose to engage in friendly conversation and even do that crazy thing called smiling at them in the hallways. It was a conscious choice not to be an asshole. I also learned the epiphanic phrase, “not my circus, not my monkeys.” Their lack of work ethic was not my responsibility. I had no right to treat them poorly based on their work performance.

The only other thing I could think of was to come clean with my poor behavior, but the thought of doing that made my insides gurgle. I am not sure how well this conversation would go, “Hi, I am sorry I was a jerk last year. That really isn’t the best possible me. I still don’t have a whole lot of respect for you, but it isn’t my problem so I am going to be kinder to you.” I don’t think that would have proved beneficial for a serene work environment.

Yesterday I overheard that one of the above mentioned people found out that his father was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. I automatically knew I would pray for his family, but another thought nagged at me. If I was going to make amends for my poor behavior last year, I should extend myself now. God pressed me to offer my prayers in person and to offer any help that he may need.

I didn’t want to do it. I still don’t have a huge amount of respect for this person. But, God has a wonderful way of asking people to step outside of their comfort zones. Actually, it is what He does best. So, I did it. I didn’t want to disobey God.

It was an uncomfortable exchange. I am pretty sure he doesn’t really like me either, but we are warming up to each other. At least he knows I care, and that I am not the grumpy woman he encountered last year, but a kinder, more compassionate one. He smiled and said he was thankful for my prayers and my offer for help.

So even though it isn’t my circus, I am one of the monkeys. Better to be a cooperative, kind monkey rather than a grouchy one.


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