Day 340 – Able But Unwilling

This is a very hard person with whom to work. Yesterday, we discussed the importance of attitude. In a crisis situation, there is nothing as maddening as having someone who is able to do what needs to be done, but is unwilling to do it. It all comes down to motivation. If you find yourself in this situation, you may have be creative or even devious in order to get this person to do what you need them to do. Some people freeze. Some people run away. Some people lapse into a selfishness that causes them to look out for number one and totally disregard the needs of others.

Years ago, I was babysitting my three year old nephew for a few days as his baby brother was being born. When his mom, dad, and brother headed home from the hospital, I initiated some clean up of the guest room, in which he had been staying, so that I could take him home. I put his bedding in the laundry and, when it was dry, I had him go with me to put the bed back together. I thought it was only fair, since he had been the one using it. I grabbed a pillow and a pillowcase, handed them to him, and asked him if he would like to help me by putting the pillow into the pillow case. He simply said, “No.” as he stood there, holding them. I was surprised and asked him why. In an innocent, three year old kind of a way, he looked me straight in the eye and said, “I don’t want to do the work.” I had to smile at how unapologetically he said something like that. I nodded and took them out of his hands and said, “Well, I appreciate your honesty, if not your intentions.”

I have never forgotten that encounter. It made a deep impression upon me. Adults will rarely be so direct and will most likely not admit to being lazy or selfish or even scared. However, that may be what you are confronting when a person is able but unwilling. In a crisis situation, when lives are on the line, you may have to begin barking out strongly worded orders to get their cooperation. I am sure we all agree that, in routine life when nothing is facing imminent destruction, we should be patient and kind and gentle as we try to motivate an unwilling person. However, in a crisis, you will not have that luxury. As you prepare your battle space in advance, you will need to figure out if you have it within you to take charge and offer that kind of strong leadership.

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