Friday, September 19, 2008

Appreciating is Hard to Do

I worked a lot of hours, along with a dedicated team of student employees (who had much more fun things to be doing) to get some computer systems ready for the first day of school at the university.

In spite of my best efforts, late nights, early mornings, and much running around the campus, we had a high profile system fail to perform properly in a few classrooms during the first two weeks of school.

The CIO, Academic Vice President, and others in my up line got an angry email. The professor complained in effect, "Why can't the IT shop respect the hard work of the professors and make an effort to have working systems for them. Don't they know we're relying on these systems to teach?"


I was frustrated that my colleague had chosen to criticize us for our failure. Didn't he know how much work we'd put in? Didn't he recognize the huge majority of things that worked right?

Yes, apparently he did. He sent a nice thank you note later, reconsidering his earlier remarks.


[One day later.]

Tonight was the stake roadshow. Our ward has been pretty scattered in getting our performance together. Rehearsals ended up taking more time from my family than I would have liked during an already very busy time. Somehow, we managed to make it to the opening night.

The stake had set up really fancy lights, had boys manning the curtain ropes, people manning the sound system, microphones hung. A stage manager explained to our ward, who was first up, that we'd have reserved seats in the audience to sit in after our performance to watch the other wards perform.

Things didn't go perfectly. The sound system wasn't loud enough. The curtain boys didn't pull it at the right moments. Fans on the stage were too loud to allow the performers to hear the audience much. After our performance, our seats had been taken. We could stand in the back with three restless kids. We left early, in a bit of frustration, without watching the other performances.

Walking out to the car, I rattled off a list of the things that the stake people had failed to do to make the plays a success. Why didn't they make the microphones louder? Why didn't they police our reserved seats a little better? Why didn't the curtain boys follow along on the script?

Then I realized what I was doing.

I was so wrapped up in my ability to perform--so centered on ME--that I failed to appreciate all the hard work by others that had gone into supporting my performance. I had made the same mistake as the grumbling professor. I followed his example and repented quickly.

Hopefully, I can be more appreciate in the future of all the hard work that goes into making the ordinary things around us.

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