Or Maybe Not
I was raised to believe that I could do anything I wanted to do – and I am grateful for that! To approach life believing I could overcome obstacles… that I could face adversity…. that my abilities were enough. This was all good. (This may also be a lie too but that is for another day!).
But for me this came to be “I can fix anything.” A person is broken, wounded, dysfunctional, etc. – I can fix that! An organization is broken or failing or myopic? I can fix that! A system doesn’t work as it ought – I can tweak it, adjust it, repair it. I can fix that! Nearly fifty years of living and leading (and being led and coached) have helped me see the lie.
To believe I can fix “it” means taking responsibility that isn’t mine. Even as a leader, when all is said and done I can only take responsibility for me. I cannot make people do what they won’t. I cannot force what is not freely taken. My own sense of responsibility may even rob another – person or organizations – of its opportunity to take responsibility for the nest steps. And for life and health — and for the consequences.
And to assume a power that is beyond me. There are things that no human power can repair. There are things that are so broken that the best result is an end rather than a limping, gasping continuation. Even people – not that they should give up and die. But their brokenness is beyond my ability to help, heal or even bear.
There is so much more here to unpack but the lie “I can fix it” is a spiritual one. To believe I can fix things, systems, and people is to nudge God off the throne of the universe and, as people are wont to do, ease myself into the seat. Only God can create new life. Only God can heal in an ultimate way.
More painfully, the desire to fix others and other things is a way to avoid fixing me. To focus on the brokenness of others? Means I don’t have to look in the spiritual and psychological mirror. To bring my magic elixir to fix a system or structure? I don’t have to ask how I contribute to this system’s dysfunction. Or how I am blinded by things that are simply different from the things others in the organization cannot see.
I can do my part – I can offer what I know and have experienced. i can take responsibility for myself and my faults and my place in a system or group. I can even offer my “fix.” But I can’t do it all. And some things I cannot – and should not – do at all.