I am a micromanager. You can’t believe how much I micromanage. I will almost never let anyone do anything because I am positive that I can do it better and quicker.
Which means that I have a habit of correcting my wife. Which she LOVES. Because we know that all women love to be corrected. She is brimming with gratitude that I suggested a different way of loading the dishwasher or putting the milk back in the fridge or driving to the movie theater. LOVES it.
I do the same thing with the kids, of course.
Liz is naturally good at letting the kids make their own mistakes. Let them mess up, she says. What’s the worst that can happen? Which, I know, makes sense. And still, I try to make brownies with them and I just can’t let go.
“Can I pour that in?” Lucy asks.
“I’ll do that, honey.”
“Can I use the mixer?” Finn says. “I’ve done it before.”
“Lemme do that, buddy.”
Liz watches me. She sees how on edge I get. She has reminded me, lovingly, that making brownies with the kids is supposed to be fun. And yet I seem to be radiating out tension like a Chernobyl reactor.
That’s just making brownies. Can you imagine how annoying this is for the kids? Very. More importantly, it stunts their development, makes them less confident, and probably a heap of other negative things.
That’s on me. When it comes to my kids, I have a hard time letting go of the wheel.
So I have a New Years Resolution. Now, this Resolution feels impossible to me, so I’m praying that Jesus zaps me with some serious power on this front, which the Bible says He can do.
Here is my Resolution:
I am Going to Change My View of Failure.
Micromanaging is rooted in my fear of being out of control.And my fear of being out of control is my fear that I will fail. So the answer, clearly, is to try to control EVERYTHING and EVERYONE around me.
Making a New Years Resolution is usually an exercise in thrilling and excitable futility. (We can rebuild him. Make him better than before. Stronger, faster…) The Resolution lasts about a day and then I am once again sitting in a big puddle of disaster juice.
So this year is different. I’m making a strategy. Here it is:
Three Steps to Changing My View of Failure
1.) Let My Kids Fail.
Who cares if they spill water when they’re getting a glass of water for themselves? Water is literally the easiest thing in the world to clean up. You use water to clean things! It’s GOOD if they spill water! They’re not transporting the Mona Lisa. It’s fine.
2.) Let My Wife Fail.
Now, in fairness, I’m not sure Liz would agree that the way she puts spoons in the dishwasher is technically a failure. But peek behind the curtain of Conor’s brain and you’ll see that that is exactly what I am thinking. This, despite the fact that the spoons come out clean every time. I’m going to try to let that go, the spoon in the dishwasher thing. We have more spoons. And Liz is smart and seems pretty confident about how she’s doing it. So…yeah. I’m going to really try to be okay with that in 2018.
3.) Let Myself Fail.
This part of the plan, I’m not crazy about.
I’ll be honest – my original resolution was different. It was to do new, creative things. But I found myself immediately self-correcting on this. I began shutting down any idea that I thought might fail, even if I loved the idea.
Which drew me to the conclusion that I knew all along but that I was dreading saying aloud.
It isn’t that I hate failing. It’s that I hate failing in front of people. I am afraid of shame and I am afraid of humiliation. I am afraid of people being disappointed in me. I am afraid of not being who my wife thinks I am, or who my kids think I am, who my friends think I am, or who people that have read my book think I am, or who my pastor thinks I am, or who my colleagues think I am.
I am afraid of these things and I don’t want to be.
And if I want to change, then I have to find a way to be okay with who God created me to be. Which means, in turn, that I have to be okay with failing. Which means, in turn, that I have to be okay with giving up control. Which means, in turn, that I have to try to stop micromanaging.
I’ve already failed at this in the first days of 2018, as Liz and the kids will tell you. But I’m not giving up this time. So get ready, people. It’s fail time.