I first read Edwin Friedman’s book, A failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix, in the fall of 2009. I didn’t realize just how much I learned from this book until I picked it up again. His thoughts on self-differentiation changed the way that I lead and interact with people in my family and in the church that I serve. The area in which this book has helped me the most is in this area of differentiation… it’s the idea that not everything is personal or has to be personal. It’s ok to have people disagree with you. It’s ok to have people change and argue with you. It’s the nature of the position; it’s not personal unless I make it personal. However, as a woman, I know that many things are personal… I have conversations and opposition simply because I’m a woman. In situations like that, the way that I differentiate is by telling myself that this would happen to any woman in my position. Again, it’s not me; it’s my position that is causing so much strife. If I don’t think this way, then the burden is too heavy for me to carry. It’s too difficult. I’m interested to know what you all think about this way of differentiating?
There are two quotes that stood out to me this time around… it has nothing to do with self-differentiation, but important nonetheless. First, “more learning will not, on it’s own, automatically change the way people see things or think. There must be first a shift in the emotional process of that institution (person).” (P31) Why haven’t I thought of this before? I think that this is the reason that I struggle with church so much. People come and learn, but nothing seems to change in the way that they do life. How do we get people to have this emotional shift? Or, is that not my job?
Second, “most of the decisions we make in life turn out to be right or wrong not because we were prescient about the future- which after all does not exist yet- but because of what we do after we make the decision.” (P61) As Christians, we are so consumed with doing “God’s will.” We invoke “God’s will” more than anything ales… but what if God’s will is broader than we think… and what if God cares about the follow-up and the follow-through more than he cares about that initial decision. What if God cares more about my integrity rather then if I go to Costco today or tomorrow? We tend to focus so much on the initial decision that we forget the journey that will get us to the end. The journey is harder than the decision.