The climbing of "Something's Amiss" Mountain.
I'm pretty sure you want to take a moment and enjoy the classy graphic I made for this post, so I'll wait before I get started.
My friend and I enjoy watching the TV show "American Greed." (If anyone promises you 12% or greater return, run away.) Something we've often commented on is how good people in a company allow corruption to go on and don't do anything about it, only to mourn at the end of it all, in their interviews on camera, that they realized what was going on and should have said something.
"Why didn't you say something?!" I might holler at the screen.
Or, yet another scandal breaks about a leader in politics or at a church or some charitable organization who was found to have taken loads of money and in the ensuing investigation you find office workers and board members and all kinds of people weeping out mea culpas and bemoaning the failure of their fiduciary duty.
"Why didn't you say something?!" we might holler.
It's pretty clear at the end of it all what the problem was, and maybe even when the best time would have been to speak up, but would you have hollered that a year earlier?
The lobster in the boiling pot doesn't know when to crawl out until it's too late. It seems like it's getting hotter but maybe it's just a hot tub, and then maybe, I don't know, I guess it's not so bad, and suddenly it's not OK dead.
Imagine this scenario, if it helps clarify the mountain post graphic above, and how it fits with this idea.
- Something seems off. It doesn't seem like a big deal. But it seems off. You let it go.
- Another thing seems off. Again, it's probably nothing. You let it go.
- Something seems off. You start to feel anxiety because you wonder if there's a pattern here. You aren't sure, though, so you let it go.
- Another thing seems off. You start to feel frustrated because you're pretty sure there's a pattern, but you're second-guessing yourself and assuming no one would listen to you anyway.
- Again, another moment where something happens. You try to hint or tell someone in a way that won't get anyone in trouble, just in case you're wrong. Nothing happens.
- Another thing seems off. Few, if anyone else, can see what's going on. You feel trapped and it makes you angry at leaders who should notice the pattern, as well as at yourself for not being sure if what you're seeing is a legitimate problem. I mean, if it were, surely the leaders would say something?
- (Repeat X amount of times until...))
- A situation occurs that is related to the pattern but is probably minor in and of itself; yet you absolutely explode because you know that somewhere, in all of this, you should have spoken up and something should have been done. And now your entire protestation is dismissed because people mistakenly think it's about the singular incident and not a history of related incidents.
This is what happens.
This is why it is difficult for people who are not in power positions to report questionable behavior or troublesome patterns.
The system, self-doubt, and the assumption that leadership would have noticed before little ol' you did -- this is why things go unreported.
And this is why resolution is difficult because the big explosion of a response has a history, and the solution isn't even about the explosion.
I'm not sure at which of those red dot moments you draw a line, put your foot down, go tell someone something. I'm not sure who you tell it to if you have no system that gives your voice any power. I don't know how you do it if you're a woman and (sorry guys) some men tend to dismiss non-specific non-earth-shattering concerns as little more than ladies' feelings.
I really don't.
"Just the facts, ma'am."
"Well, there's this moment, this example, this story, something was off here, I see a pattern of this behavior and it concerns me..."
"Dates and times, please. With the specific measurable negative outcome."
In front of you is a mountain named "something's amiss" and all you're gonna do is climb it to the peak where everything erupts and then what.