I'm not getting old. Really I'm not. But today made me wonder.
My wife has provided me with a technological marvel called Tile. Tile is a little 1 inch square doohickey that you can attach to anything. (I've got one on each of my key chains, one in my wallet, and one in my sun glasses case). This little device is amazingly helpful to me. I have a problem. I leak stuff. My stuff falls out of my pockets and gets wedged in chairs. I leave stuff on tables. I drop things in the car. Essentially my stuff leaks out everywhere.
The tile is sync'd with your cell phone. Through bluetooth it keeps track of the last place your cell phone "saw" it. If another phone with the tile app on it gets close enough to a Tile, it will transmit the location to the Tile network. Finally to top it all off, if you are close to your stuff, but still can't find it, you can push a button on the tile application. The Tile will play out music helping guide you to whatever you lost. It saves time and worrry. For example, I commute almost an hour to work and there have been countless times I can't find my sunglasses. I sit there and wonder, did I leave them at the office or somewhere around here. Now, a glance at my app tells me.
Which brings me to my story. I overslept this morning and hurried to my car. I dumped my stuff in the car and realized I didn't have my sunglasses. I paused for a long moment. Shall I lose yet more time? Or leave and arrive at work with a headache brought on by the blazing sun in my eyes? Not much of a choice. And besides, maybe I actually left my sun glasses at work.
I whipped out my phone and checked my Tile app. Nope. The phone is here.
I walked back up to the second story of the house and pushed the find button. Immediately the music sounded. But it sounded like it was coming from downstairs.
How odd, did it fall out of my pocket downstairs? It was hard to tell, sometimes the music is indistinct. I turned to listen better. My son, who was watching me, said he thought it was coming from the kitchen. I went to the kitchen. It sounded the same. I traversed the whole of the living room and couldn't ascertain the location. I looked helplessly at my wife.
"I can't figure it out." I said. "Just can't isolate it."
"Hold on a sec," She said and walked over to me. She shook her head. "How odd. It sounds like it's right around here."
I looked around again and then started to walk away.
She stopped me and said, "Honey, it's getting quieter as you walk away from me."
I raised my eyebrows. "I don't understand."
Her eyes twinkled as she said, "Is it in your pocket?"
Now I know I checked my pockets down in the garage but there it was.
"Well how about that," I said.
My son burst out laughing and my wife smiled. I shrugged, kissed her, thanked her, and was on my way.
The experience got me thinking. Not about how old and distracted I must be to make that mistake. Instead my mind dwelt on the impact of perspective and how hard it is to understand your own issues.
People who act as mirrors in your life are invaluable. Some of us luckily have spouses who help with this. Spouses and children are our clearest mirrors. But I think there is a lot of value to also having a less biased perspective. It's helpful to be able to share your deepest heart with others outside your immediate family.
As a guy, I find it difficult to share deeply with others. As a manager, it's even harder. There are two major interrelated barriers: Risk and Weight.
Deep issues are generally about flaws or weakness in ourselves. The flaws are attitudes or thoughts or actions that we aren't proud of. Things we have a hard time processing and understanding but we know aren't right. Weakness are sorrows. Pains that come from some loss or tragic event or even an ongoing struggle. As we expose those flaws or weaknesses to someone else, we are risking the loss of their respect and regard. Further we are risking this for a nebulous gain. How valuable is sharing really? What is the the payoff for this risk? Is it worth it?
The other barrier is weight. Our flaws and weaknesses are a real, almost physical weight upon us. What right do we have to burden another with that weight. It is our issue, our flaw, our failure. Shouldn't the burden remain with us.
I think this is why "anonymous" groups work. It mitigates risk and everyone who is there has agreed to share the burden.
As a manager these issues are intensified. Respect is critical to what you do. You cannot afford to lose it. And if I am the boss, is it fair to share my burdens on those I'm supposed to be leading? I am supposed to be helping them to carry their burden, not hand them mine. I imagine this is intensified again for pastors.
It is difficult to give advice on this issue. I am like most men. I only have a few confidants and even with those men, I am rarely entirely free with my thoughts. But, consider this: The issue of risk may be an illusion. Those close to you may know or strongly suspect your burdens already. Your words and actions come from the overflow of your deepest heart. In your heart is where those burdens live. As to the weight, I find that the burdens of others are rarely as heavy as my own. One of the important and most difficult lessons to learn as a manager is that no matter how good you are, you can't do everything. You can't bear every burden and it is important to share those burdens. To enlist more minds, more hearts, and more backs to carry those burdens. There is a kind of synergistic power in sharing work. Two threads are stronger than one, three makes an unbeatable bond. Burdens are much the same.