Lesson from the BRING ME A ROCK SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT, or how to turn annoying into absurd into awesome.
Have you ever done business with someone who wants something from you but they don’t tell you what it is? They clearly want you to do something for them, and they know what it is, but are unable to or don’t want to explain it, so it’s on you to figure it out. Maddening.
Here’s what it’s like to be in relationship with said person.
I’ll call you YOU.
Your friend/boss/colleague/relative is THEM.
THEM: Bring me a rock.
YOU: What kind of rock?
THEM: Just bring me a rock.
So you go and get a pretty, smooth rock and bring it to THEM. You think you are done, but they respond like this:
THEM: Not that rock, you idiot. Go get me a different rock.
YOU: What kind of rock?
THEM: Something different.
YOU: I don’t know what you want.
THEM: Just bring me a rock.
YOU are trying to read their mind, sense what THEY want between their words, grasping for any hint. But there are none. YOU are clueless. What was wrong with the rock YOU just brought? It was smooth and pretty and colorful, but apparently, it was the wrong kind of rock. So you set off to find a different looking rock. This must be what THEY wanted.
THEM: Not that rock, you idiot. I said, bring me a rock. Don’t you know what a rock is?!
YOU: I have no idea what kind of rock you want. Can you be more specific?
THEM: I’m just reaching out to you to see if you want to go get me a rock. I’m just trying to help you. (huh? WTF.)
So off YOU go again, in search of whatever THEY might be hinting at wanting. YOU feel like you have been asking for clarification because you have no fricking idea what THEY have in mind.
YOU make up a story in your mind that THEY think they are being clear (I’m actually not sure about this part. I think THEY might have an unconscious habit of being manipulative and sending you off on a wild good chase because you trotting around like a puppy trying to do the right thing for them makes them feel powerful and important, partly because it makes you feel disempowered and stupid.)
It seems to you like THEY have a definite idea of what THEY want and YOU are missing the mark because you are a complete and utter moron.
THEIR desire is crystal clear to THEM and completely obscure to YOU. You are asking for details and getting radio silence. You are starting to feel like a doormat, because you are acting like one.
Nonetheless, you slink off into the woods a third time. You actually prefer being in the woods, because it’s refreshing and calm and quiet, and it’s far from the insanity of THEM and their infuriating way of communicating with you.
You lug back a huge boulder. It’s awesome. Heart-shaped. Orange. So heavy it takes two hands to carry it. You’ve nailed it. You are positive this time.
THEM: You are such an idiot!! What about “rock” DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND?
YOU are silent.
YOU have been obediently fetching rocks all day for this bitch and now YOU are being yelled at for your service.
YOU have been doing your best. YOU’d like to be appreciated for trying.
YOU’d like to be acknowledged for playing on the team. But instead, THEY spew their poison all over YOU. Yuck. Gross. Awful.
YOU press pause on the situation. YOU inhale deep (even though at this point it feels like you can barely breathe) and cannonball exhale your exasperation out.
YOU do not know how to deal with THEM.
No matter what YOU do, it’s wrong.
This feels crappy. Stupid. It’s a waste of your time and precious energy. YOU have asked for clear, specific, detailed instructions. YOU have asked politely more than once. Yet, YOU have not given up. YOU have requested more details around what exact steps YOU can take that will satisfy THEM.
It’s exhausting. It’s all so familiar. YOU jumping when THEY say jump. THEY saying jump higher and YOU do. It’s a losing battle. A never-ending cycle of not-enoughness despite your devotion to their desire. THEY are not forthcoming and never will be. And as long as YOU are slave to their desire, YOU will never find the right rock.
YOU feel shame. Anger. Frustration. Resentment. Chagrin. Desire to help. Desire not to piss THEM off. Desire to do the right thing. Desire to disappear. Desire for THEM to be satisfied. Desire for THEM to f*cK off.
YOU are clear that YOU don’t work for THEM. And more importantly, YOU realize that YOU and THEY are on the same team. It’s YOU vs. THEM. It’s YOU and THEM.
And it’s simply this: THEIR communication style does not work for YOU. YOU being a doormat does not work for YOU. And it’s not working for THEM, either. Which illuminates everything. What YOU have been searching for is actually right under your nose.
You have found YOUR rock. YOUR groundedness. YOUR truth. Finally, your search for the perfect rock is done. YOU are your rock.
You wonder if that, in fact, has been the whole point. It’s not about the rock. It was never about the rock. It’s not about THEM telling you what to do. It’s about YOU standing in your power, and finding yourself. Discovering that YOU are enough. Discovering that your idea of what constitutes a rock is just as valid as theirs. YOU have found your rock. You are done chasing after it.
YOU reply at last: I understand. Go get your own damn rock.
THEY are stunned. YOU are free.