So, how do you solve a problem like Maria?

When I’m with her I’m confused
Out of focus and bemused
And I never know exactly where I am
Unpredictable as weather
She’s as flighty as a feather
She’s a darling! She’s a demon! She’s a lamb!

She’d outpester any pest
Drive a hornet from its nest
She could throw a whirling dervish out of whirl
She is gentle! She is wild!
She’s a riddle! She’s a child!
She’s a headache! She’s an angel!
She’s a girl!

How do you solve a problem like Maria?
How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?
How do you find a word that means Maria?
A flibbertijibbet! A will-o’-the wisp! A clown!

I do feel like Maria on most days. Like I’m particularly hard to handle because I’m very complex and unpredictable. There are days when I’m gentle, and days when I’m not. I’ve been thinking and reflecting on this for quite some time. As you read this blog, you will see that I’ve been writing a lot about the things I’m discovering about myself as I handle our business. Nothing much on the technical side of the business, but mostly, on the personal challenges and struggles that come with managing people. I thought I knew myself well but when I entered into business, I saw different sides of me that I never knew existed.

For example, I didn’t know that I could be very frank and straightforward with people. (Wasn’t Maria like that as well? She got herself in trouble for being so outspoken). I guess that comes now with authority. I see that especially when I handle interviews of applicants. Because I don’t want to waste precious time asking very generic questions, I go straight to the point and ask them things that will make it easier for me to decide if I should get them or not. There was one applicant who came in with a very extensive resume and to say I was overwhelmed was an understatement. I thought she was overqualified for the position we were hiring. Other people might say that’s good, but it’s always a case to case basis. If we’re only hiring for a rank and file employee, pretty soon this girl with her excellent credentials will get bored on the job and probably not even stay long. The offer we were giving was also less than what she was currently getting so when I asked her why she would jump ship and settle for this position, she couldn’t give me a straight answer. When I delved deeper, I found out she was unhappy with her current job as she didn’t get the promotion she thought was hers. You know, company politics. So I told her directly, “If you’re quitting your job because you didn’t get promoted, then I could tell you right now that there’s a big chance you won’t get promotions with us as well. Why? Because there will only be two personnel in the office: me and the secretary (which would be you). Our business is small so prospects of career promotion, at this point in time, are bleak. Hopefully, like all businesses, we will expand and our personnel will, as well. We will get into that when the time is right. That said, you are overqualified for this position and I wouldn’t want to hold you back for any career advancement plans you have for yourself.”

She never called back, which was what I had hoped for.

Something else I learned about myself was my stubborn inability to accept people’s shortcomings. (Where Maria and I differ, sadly). This is the ugly part that I’m trying to address at the moment. As much as I want to be forgiving and considerate because people’s learning curves might be slower, my natural tendency is to get frustrated at the repeated mistakes made by our staff. It happens a lot. We recently changed secretaries (the last one lasted a year but decided to change jobs) so for the past couple of months, I was retraining our new secretary. She’s much slower in picking things up and the thing that annoys me even more is her forgetfulness and short memory recall. I can’t get myself to be accepting of that especially when I’m already helping her address these gaps: I’ll write down a list of things to do so it’ll be easier to remember; I’ll google calendar all important reminders and events; I’ll also post the deadlines on her desk. Despite all these, her forgetfulness shocks me. Jem always tells me to lower my expectations. No employee is perfect and a better manager would be someone who would work through these limitations and train them well. What makes it harder for me is that I’m very detailed. It spells disaster for a person with such high scrutiny to details to encounter people with grave neglect to details. Or, it could just be my personality.

Writing this makes me realize that there’s a lot of work to be done in me. A lot of self-introspection and confessing and asking for forgiveness. More, the need for humility. If I am hard on people and fail to accept their weaknesses and shortcomings, God would have a bigger cause to judge me on that. Didn’t He forgive me even when I repeatedly made mistakes? Remember all your past sins, KZ, and remember that God did not hold you accountable for that and where you deserved punishment, you were given mercy and grace. He kept no record of wrongs. He was patient, and kind, compassionate and forgiving. He gave many, many second chances. You now stand forgiven on account of Jesus’ perfect sacrifice on the Cross. Because He bore your sins, you have been made free. Can’t you be gentler then, more considerate, loving and patient? Ask God for wisdom when you need a better way to address a mistake. That would make Jesus happier and it would also set you free from all your anxieties and worries. When you manage people on the foundation of God’s everlasting love, forgiving (and accepting flaws) shouldn’t be hard.

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