Monday, February 27, 2012

Persistence vs Meddling

The past few years, the more I’ve become an adult, the more I’ve struggled with the concept of balance and drawing the line. It has taken up most of my “self reflection” time as I ponder how to make better decisions. Growing up in two different countries that are exactly the opposite, I have opposing views on how one should execute decisions and even how to think about a situation.

My cultural background is very dichotomous. One culture emphasizes never sticking out, not being different, nor going out on your own. The other believes being an individual, strong willed, and promoting yourself. While it may seem ideal to be well-rounded, it also makes it more difficult to figure out what to do and more importantly, when.

When I was growing up, my dad always voiced the importance of being persistence to the point of almost being annoying. He was always speaking about career and business. As a girl and growing up in two countries with the above ideals, I shied away from it sometimes because over time, it won’t make you any new friends and it will just get you written off even faster. Either a company has an opening or it doesn’t. They call you back or they don’t. No matter how persistence you are, a job won’t magically appear.

In my personal life, the idea of persistence gets a bit more tricky. With loved ones and friends, there a bit more room for negotiation since it’s not about a job or money. It’s about intangible things such as quality time, growing the relationship, or taking into consideration different perspectives, emotions, and thoughts. The chance for compromise is greater and requires more patience. And herein lies, my dilemma.

At what point does persistence just become meddling or asking for something that someone else doesn’t want to give you? It could be anything big or small - let’s go to the movies, plan a vacation, or take the next step. A part of me feels that in asking for something, if the other person hasn’t already asked as well or thought of it, it most likely isn’t important to them or it’s not a priority or they are not ready. The other part of me believes maybe they just hadn’t thought of it either and it could be a great idea. I also believe if someone is smart and focused, they are already a person of action, have a plan, and don’t want to be distracted on one more thing they have to make a decision on.

Since no two situations are the same, I’ve always approached my life with a take one step and see what happens. If the other person seems eager, great, they reciprocate and we go back and forth in a discussion of sorts. If not, I let it drop. The harder part is when they’ve initiated the discussion then sort of drop the ball in some way - whether they got busy, something came up, a change of priorities, take longer to respond, or radio silence. Often, the reason is unknown and partly because you are interested you do the first follow up hoping to ignite discussions again or to get a final answer.

When things don’t go as I hoped, I wonder if I’ve meddled and just drew out the process longer when I should have just left things completely alone. When things go well, I’m glad I took the one step of initiative to re-energize the conversation and get us back on track. In an ideal world, none of us would ever be too busy and we’d always follow thru exactly as we planned, and things would go how they should. Since this is not the case, when taking initiative or allowing things to fade - are we taking action at the wrong time?

I constantly struggle with two messages. 1) I can only control my thoughts, reactions, and behaviors so I should focus on what I can do or change. And 2) No man is an island. How you interact with others also positively and negatively affects them. When we are frustrated we lament how we’ve done everything we could think of and nothing has changed. When things are going really well it’s obvious the credit doesn’t belong to one sole person.

Assessing situations as they really are can be difficult. One is given the false impression how much change they can really affect and can’t. Problem solving becomes a misleading term in one’s personal life because most problems don’t go away. One just becomes stronger, smarter, and better at handling life’s tribulations. And in taking the time to assess a situation, if gone on too long it becomes a weakness. Not making a decision becomes the decision. Not taking action gives you less choice and power to affect the outcome.

In all of this, perhaps it is best to make a decision, even if it may be the wrong one. You did what you could with all the information you had then. If you had more information you would have chosen a different path. The goal is to learn, refine, and execute. Be strong and make a decision. Be true to yourself. Know yourself. Intention is not the same as action. Carpe Diem!

All cruelty springs from weakness.
Lucius Annaeus Seneca


  1. Hey...
    i really like how you came to your conclusion... it is so true that no action is a decision... usually a fearfilled one.
    For me, I find comfort that if I do my best with all the info I have, my "mess" can become a great message and with God's help, it'll reach out to lots of non-perfect people like me...!
    ...a bit like your ending sentences, I would say that INTENTION IS NOT ACTION... :) You're a great journaler/blogger... :)

    1. The Muser at Musings of a High Level Executive AssistantMay 31, 2013 at 3:15 PM

      Just wanted to say a random hello! Hello all readers! :)