I had a great conversation with my uncle today while in the car on the way to my appointment at the social security office. He told me that most performance errors are not the fault of any individual; they are the fault of the system. He told me a story that he had heard: It seemed that a small post office was having a major problem with misfiled letters. They identified a single employee who appeared to be at fault. Almost all of the misfile mistakes happened during her shifts. So what was the post office to do? (this is where you chime in and say, “well fire the woman, duh!”) It seems logical that if this employee is the cause of the problem, you ought to fire her and be done with it, right…?
However, the people in this postal service were smart. They decided to investigate further. It was learned, after an inspection of the office, that the labels on the bins into which the mail was filed were the problem. The bins were labeled in such a way that the ones on the top level were completely readable….as long as you were over a certain height. However, anyone shorter than that would be completely unable to read any of the bins on the upper level. Guess who the only employee in the office shorter than that critical height was? Yeah, of course. The woman who was causing the problem.
She wasn’t failing the system. The system failed her. The post office re-labeled the bins and the problem went away. A much simpler, cheaper solution than firing an experienced employee and hiring someone else and training them to replace her.
My uncle brought this up in conversation about what I dealt with at the pharmacy yesterday. He thought there might be some sort of systemic failure in the pharmacy that was causing all the problems I’d been experiencing there. (if you haven’t read my last post How to Harmonize, take a look – I describe my pharmacy problems in detail there)
But his story got me thinking along a whole different track. If I think about myself: body, mind, and spirit – my whole being…. if I think about me as a system, how does this idea of systemic failure apply?
Because I am a system. I am a network of interlocking cells made up of molecules made up of atoms made up of subatomic particles made up of (theoretically) vibrating strings of energy. I am a system of firing neurons, chemical changes, hormonal balance and imbalance, spiritual light and darkness – I am energy in all its forms woven together to create a being that is much more than the mere fabric of my body. I am a system of grace and beauty. I am not cobbled together from spare parts that the universe has discarded – no, I am made of the same stuff that is all around me, yet the creative life force designed me with infinite care, giving me self-awareness, intelligence, and a small part of itself: the ability to create and to destroy.
While systems created by us, by humans, who are, ourselves, a product of the universal creative life energy, are always destined to have failures from time to time, I think that nothing about me is a failure.
I am, always have been, and always will be a system of perfect design.
I’m not saying that I don’t make mistakes, cause I sure as hell make them all the time. But I don’t think I am a mistake. I firmly believe that I am here on this earth in this form at this time for a damn good reason. I don’t know what that is yet, but perhaps the more that I open myself and all parts of my “system” to the world around me…well, perhaps I will begin to learn what role I play in the enormous system of this fantastic universe.
What do you think? Who are you, what are you, and what part are you playing in our cosmic theater?
I’d love to hear some responses. It doesn’t matter if what you think is that I’m full of sh%&. I’m still interested to know what your story is.