Security. And safety. And choices. (And life.)

I have a very clear visual of how learning happens to me.  “Things to be known” float around my head like stars.  Sometimes they’re brighter and then they fade.  Sometimes they’re suddenly in my face after being far away for a while.  Ephiphanies connect the things and over time, the web of known things — and their interrelationship — get closer, wrapped around me like a force field or protective force even as they contract and expand depending on what I’m knowing right now.

/hippie talk

So three things were floating around in my head as I drove home from lunch: this post about security and safety in structures; my frustration at lacking structures (different definition) at work; this comment from Christine about choices (which reminded me of this comment of mine a while back).

Havi’s use of the word “structure” was very different than mine.  She means a structure that surrounds you and offers safety.  I mean a mechanism for getting people together to make decisions.

But then I realized that her structure and my structure might be the same.

I find great comfort in knowing when the appropriate time for specific topics will be.  “We talk about this thing in this place with these people at this time.”  Chalk it up to my discomfort at asking things of people, but knowing when is appropriate is very important to me.  I like to think that’s the case for most people; at least, I hope so, because that’s the direction I’m taking my business at work.

I’d been thinking about structure as a way to be certain a discussion is appropriate.  That’s safety!  And the “mechanism” to which I refer can also be called a “ritual” if one is so inclined.  Maybe it would be helpful for me to think of the structure of an operating mechanism as a physical structure with attributes that protect the teams and decisions within.

Along with those thoughts came the idea of religion (or spirituality, perhaps).  The guy on talk radio was sharing these pithy rules of some sort (1. There is a sovereign being in the world. 2. That being is not you.  3. He doesn’t need you.  4. Something I don’t remember) and I was struck by the level of comfort to be found in the rules-kind-of-structure.

Knowing what you must do frees you to worry about what you should be doing.  The Dave Ramsey “Baby Steps” work by giving you permission to focus on step 1 before step 2 without worrying about whether you should be doing step 3 at the same time.

Permission to rescind control in one area to focus on another.

Again, this is all tied up in what I’m doing at work: trying to get the right teams of people together to make decisions on a schedule that everyone knows about with defined rules about what’s important in the hopes that the stress of “am I doing the right thing?” goes away.

Life is work is life.  Safety is structure is safety.  Freedom is rule-bound is freedom.  And choice? All interwoven, but like a Chinese finger puzzle, where releasing control in one area allows for more in another.

(That’s all.  No great conclusion, just thoughts.)


One thought on “Security. And safety. And choices. (And life.)

  1. Heh. I love that I was linked in your post (and that yet again we shared the same brain for a few minutes). Have you read much on organizational communication? Structures, rituals, symbols all help establish the norms of an organization’s culture. You’ve nailed that structure is a personal guide to appropriateness for you, but that doesn’t necessarily mean others will see it that way (just like that radio evangelist’s rules). I can totally relate to the “structure is safety” way of thinking–although I hate too much structure in contexts where I feel confident, productive and capable, I absolutely demand them in situations where group decision-making or collaboration is NOT working through informal means. In short, I call in structure when I fee l unsafe! Thanks for today’s lightbulb moment:-)

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