Tip-toeing close to curmudgeon territory

by  Jane Perdue  |  Leadership Development

I left Corporate America while I still had a little soul. I wanted to rebuild my “soul account” by serving, helping, making a difference. And, for the most part, life has been good. I like to say I’m living the tee shirt.


(Rarely does anything positive follow use of the word “but” and this isn’t going to be an exception!)

I’m feeling grumpy after a string of recent experiences, wondering where character, compassion and connection have gone.

A group of volunteers banded together to raise money for a small nonprofit. The volunteers worked their butts off while the paid staffers were missing in action. When questioned about their lack of involvement, the staffers’ response was, “Hey, the help and the money always come from someplace.” What happens when others care as little as they do?

Having moved to Charleston, SC from San Francisco, I bear the local label of being “from off.” Several of us folks “from off” were on a steering committee for a local conference. The new lead person told us he wanted to retain our talent but we would have to step off the steering committee because we didn’t know the right people in town. When will inclusion and passion trump cronyism?

A social media acquaintance asked if I would review their book. I agreed, investing a number of hours doing so. The author’s one word response? Thanks. I know I should be thankful for the thanks, but it felt like it arrived via autopilot. When did people become disposable?

“I’m inviting you to join this exclusive group because I believe you’re perfect to join my network and help me build my book of business.” Wow, what an opening line. If I was supposed to feel special, it didn’t work. Has reciprocity gone out of style?

The candle of character and compassion does burn brightly in many. I’ve just had the misfortune of several downer experiences in quick succession.

Just need to be patient…those affirming encounters are coming. And coming with them will be the opportunity to use these teachable moments both for myself and for others.


Image source (before quote):  Pixelperfect

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About The Author

Articles By jane-perdue
Jane is a leadership futurist and well-mannered maverick who challenges stereotypes, sacred cows, gender bias & how we think about power. She loves chocolate, TED, writing, kindness, paradox and shoes.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

Mary C Schaefer  |  10 Sep 2013  |  Reply

Jane, thank you so much for sharing those stories, and your concern about tip-toeing toward curmudgeon territory.

I have had a series or equivalent experiences over the past few years that have left me anywhere from hurt to befuddled. I was going to speculate about what could be going on, but your post and my reflection make me realize I need to get a handle on myself, and like you, encourage my faith that those holding candles of compassion and character are on their way. (What great phrasing, Jane!)


Jane Perdue  |  10 Sep 2013  |  Reply

Thanks so much, Mary, for your kind words and for sharing that I’m not alone! It’s so easy to point fingers. The core of the matter that I had to find is that I’m in charge of how I react to others. Can’t control much more than that!

Mary C Schaefer  |  11 Sep 2013  | 

Jane, you know you’ve produced a good post when people keep thinking about it…

I later found myself reminded of the “Paradoxical Commandments” by Dr. Kent M. Keith.

The first one in particular is my lesson, “People are illogical, unreasonable and self-centered. Love them anyway.” (Of course, this applies to me being illogical too, and forgiving myself…)

For reference you can find all of these “commandments” here:

Again, great job.

Todd MacPherson  |  10 Sep 2013  |  Reply

Thank you for you transparency. It is a good call to me to be conscious of my character and attitude towards others. Thank you Jane.

Jane Perdue  |  10 Sep 2013  |  Reply

Todd — I keep telling myself it all begins with me, it all begins with me! Thank you for weighing in and sharing.

Mike Henry  |  10 Sep 2013  |  Reply

Great post Jane. I hope to remind you there are great people out there. This website has become a wonderful gathering place for those folks. I had a great breakfast with a new friend. New friends challenge me to not become careless and make some of the mistakes above. Even at our best, we can have a bad day, be short with a Thank You or interact with the world like we think we’re in the center of it.

I hope you can continue to model the behavior we all long for. I’m grateful for the people in this community and in my life who live the change we’d like to see in the world. There will always be the examples you saw above, but I hope by searching out all of the memories that are before the “but”, you can get re-energized. Thanks for being part of Lead Change and for the great post. Mike…

Jonena Relth  |  11 Sep 2013  |  Reply

Jane, Thanks for sharing from your heart. I’m guessing that many of us have had similar things happen in our personal and work lives. Working with volunteers most of my life, I’ve been frustrated, offended, thankful, appreciative, elated and back to frustrated. I think it goes with the territory. One comfort though is that we can control our responses to everything around us. Mama always says: “It’s easiest to catch that fly with honey.” Have a great day knowing that your intentions are worth the whole bee hive!

Chery Gegelman  |  12 Sep 2013  |  Reply

Jane, This was such a real post, filled with truth, and sprinkled with laughter and covered in grace. Thank you for planting food for thought and serving it with a spoonful of sugar!

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