The dilemma of being needed


Like many people, I’ve taken away a lot of lessons from my working life.

One of the first ones I learned was the more work you do, the more you get. My elder niece is struggling with that realization these days.

Another one I learned came later in my career: having all the answers (or appearing to) does not always work to your advantage.

I’ve written about how I appear to know things and then there are things that I actually do know, so between the two, I had a pretty confident air about me at work.

Which can be annoying to others. Even more if it turns out I’m right.

One of my bosses pointed out to me that solving a problem quickly in Corporate America can backfire in a group. He tried to get me to lead others to the solution I already knew, rather than just solve the issue right away.

That always seemed bizarre to me, which is probably why I failed at his request so often (and likely why I had less fans than I could have).

Thankfully, that’s all behind me now and I live a quiet life of serenity and success due to my (apparently) sound investing decisions over the past 8 years or so. These days, it appears I’ve got everything figured out and thus have a level of equanimity that would startle my former co-workers.

I take a simple, realistic and positive outlook towards life in general and my life in particular. Nothing much seems to disturb me in my limited exposure to the real world.

Of course, I still retain my illusion of omniscience and that gets me into plenty of trouble.

To wit, my family seems to hone in on me as the only unstressed out member of the group and thus I must have all the answers to the family problems. Ha!

Despite my declarations to the contrary (see link above), I continue to get called upon by my Dad or Stepmom or Sister or niecelings for advice, interdiction, solutions or upper body parts (shoulders, ears, etc.).

I try my best, I really do. But I know I don’t have all the answers (some, actually, but nowhere near enough). I try not to give advice, but simply create discussion.

It either does or doesn’t work; even I can’t tell. Most times it appears no one even listens to what I’m saying (at least based upon their eventual decisions).

I’m absolutely flattered by my family’s belief in my ability to “solve” their issues. I take their questions and conversations seriously and to the heart. And, if there’s any stress in my life, it’s only when the issues don’t get resolved and my family is unhappy.

But that’s the dilemma of being needed. It’s the source of my greatest pride and my greatest angst that my family puts so much trust in (and demand on) my judgement.

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