Sunday, December 23, 2007

Finding Balance

Last night at work I was criticized by one of my co-workers for being inflexible and judgmental of other staff. We were able to discuss this, and the situation that sparked her comments. We also talked about the differing perspectives we bring to our work- She tends to be more aware of the bigger picture of what we're doing here, while I tend to be more aware of the details. (Hey, that's why a big part of my work is with data management!) Both viewpoints are valuable and needed, and I think we each recognize that. Also, with such divergent viewpoints it's probably not surprising that conflict will arise between us at times.

We talk a lot about boundaries where I work- holding boundaries, having healthy boundaries with the youth we work with... it's important. The image below is one I drew and posted one night at work, about a year ago, after the kids had been testing me on some of the boundaries set into the program structure.

I've tended to be fairly firm on following the rules (as they are actually written, not as I choose to interpret them), while some other staff are far more flexible. Their leniency can make the job more difficult for those of us who hold firmly to the rules. The kids, obviously, prefer the staff who are more easy going. I like the clarity of knowing what is expected from me, from other staff, and from the youth. Sometimes that makes me too rigid, and perhaps makes things more difficult than they actually have to be. Being too casual around the expectations also leads to problems later on. It doesn't work to be a total authoritative 'cop' enforcer type, nor does it work to try and be a 'friend' to the youth. They need adult guidance and support from staff, not cops or friends.

There is a middle road, a place of BALANCE, which is probably best for all involved. This provides the needed structure, but without being so anal about it... allowing for compromise when the situation calls for it. But it is easy to wander off that middle road. Its location can shift from moment to moment. One of my goals for the future is to keep myself more often ON that middle road of balance, and also to be more aware of when I've veered off it. This may push me outside my comfort zone, and force me to examine some of my beliefs which I'd just as soon not examine. But I can see it is for the overall good of both staff and youth, and will contribute to a more harmonius workplace.

Here's to 2008

the year I find my center of balance!



Anonymous said...

The one word that always pops into my mind when I think of you Jaya IS
balance. I think you are already there. One might even use you as an example of balance. I know I do.

Anonymous said...

Fulchrums, balance...tightropes.

What you wrote could have been written by a very good parent which is what I feel you are with these kids. Oh, not the everyday, let's have pudding, do your homework kind of parent. But that "I care about you enough to tap dance for years to changing tunes."

Much as I'd like to have things stay in place a bit, I'm afraid the world is moving under our feet as we speak and like logrollers we gotta keep jumping and dancing.

You're beautiful, Jaya.