Recent statements of value said to me

The following don’t deserve an entire column all on their own, so I’m sticking them all into this one.

These are statements people have said to me recently that had an impact on me. Maybe if they have had an impact on me, they can impact you, as well.

“I’m glad I went to the event this morning. Every now and then I get these confirmations that I don’t have ridiculous ideas, I’ve just been surrounded by the wrong people.”

Yes! The woman who said this is absolutely right. Surrounding ourselves with supportive, uplifting, honest people is important to our happiness, well-being and success. Get rid of people (from your life, not permanently, please) who don’t add value to your life. We aren’t like everyone else, so why would we expect to jive with everyone else?

“The picture of a church, that would explain why you’re so judgmental. I can’t wait to see you guys wipe each other out with your hate and bias.”

The story? I had received a private note via social media that was misinformed, vulgar, and discriminatory. I shared the post on my personal Facebook page, using it as an example of how sad it makes me that we often resort to disrespect instead of respectful dialogue about controversial topics. The quote is one response I received regarding my post. For your understanding, the photo of the church he was referring to is the cover photo on my Facebook account. It is from a funeral and was taken inside of a church. Maybe I am in the minority about this, but I am tired of people being afraid to hold others accountable for their words. The message I received was disgusting. Had the author not wanted anyone else to know about his ugly words, maybe he should not have said them. Accountability is good for us. I’ve been held called out and held accountable before. It’s not fun, but I deserved it, and each experience was an opportunity to learn.

This one really irks me. I am in the middle of a rotten situation involving a certain state department in Lansing. Twice now, I have talked to department employees who have said to me, “My opinion doesn’t matter, I am just following the rules.” That makes me sad. Those employees don’t feel like they have the authority to make independent decisions, or to challenge the system to make it more efficient. They don’t feel that they can practice integrity in their roles and do what is right instead of what is handed to them. Their statements make me grateful I have the career I do, and that I am not a pawn in someone’s system.

It also makes me want to remind everyone that if you aren’t happy where you work, you have a choice to make a change.

The statement also makes me think of management. If you are a manager who likes to keep your thumb on employees, you may want to rethink your strategy. Happy employees with the ability to make independent decisions means happier customers. Maybe people who work in a controlling bureaucracy are happy and it’s just my personality that would never allow me to happily work in that environment. The thought that they are OK in that environment also makes me sad, though, because it means our systems aren’t as efficient and effective as they could — and should — be.

The last statement I will share today is, “You dictate what happens. Let the chips fall where they may.”

Someone said this to me when I was maxed out on stress. What he meant was that I get to dictate what I choose to spend my time on, and I should not worry about how that might impact others if I am doing what I need to do for myself. I am too often concerned with letting others down, and then I become overwhelmed and stressed about getting everything done or having no time for myself. It was such a good reminder, it is worth sharing. I cannot possibly be the only person who lands in those thought patterns. You get to decide how you spend your time. Choose wisely, don’t feel bad, and don’t apologize for doing what’s best for you.

The things people say to me often carry a lot of weight. Their words teach lessons and give me valuable perspectives. Communication is such a valuable tool. I wish our society wasn’t moving away from constructive communication and was instead further embracing the power and value of it.

Jackie Krawczak is president/CEO of the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce. Her column runs biweekly on Thursdays. Follow Jackie on Twitter @jkrawczak.