In the car on the way to work, I was thinking through a demanding e-mail that I received. The sender or nature of the e-mail is not so important. We all get them occasionally. Someone wants something from you, and you start thinking about how to satisfy them, to give them what they desire, to soothe the irritant. (If you’re a teacher, this someone is often a student.) Why that impulse to bend?? Is it only to make peace? Maybe a certain kind of peace, which is more like resignation, is overrated.
I pulled into the parking lot. As I walked across campus, this insight emerged from the murk of my thoughts:
Another person’s ambition, especially when it aligns with conventional values (e.g., more money is desirable, rewards are necessary), can unproductively set a team or community’s agenda.
It’s good to know one’s own agenda. Protect it, not out of vanity, but because it may be fragile, and it needs you. And the team — or even the world — may need it too.
Thank you to my 30-minute commute.