I Wanted to Quit: When Supports are a Hindrance

Oct 30 - when supports

I wanted to quit. I had exhausted all I had in me.

My knees felt like they were going to give out. How much longer could I continue to hike down this mountain? When would I make it to camp? I couldn’t see it for sure, but there were buildings in the distance? Was that it? We started to play games like let’s agree camp is around the corner until we learn otherwise – and we kept going one step at a time. I’d fallen 3 times already that day and on the 4th fall I couldn’t get up with help. I had to find a different way because my right knee could not bear my weight to get me up.

It was only day 2 of my 5-day trek to Machu Picchu, Peru.

I was appropriately outfitted – with well-fitted knapsack with a large water bladder, the winter (yes winter) sleeping bag, walking poles and hiking boots. I had my trustworthy guides, Edwin and Efe, from the trekking company. All the supports a person could want to make a successful trek. Yet, one of these “supports” was causing me great difficulty – and as I was told it would help me, I never thought to question it.

It was the walking poles! Once I realized that the walking poles distracted my focus from ensuring a good foothold and I stopped using them, I magically stopped falling. What was set up as a support for all had failed me.

How many “supports” does your organization have in place that might act as a hindrance for some team members?

For example, one organization I worked with would hold potluck lunches. However, some of the workers who were working in more remote areas could rarely, if ever, take part. While it may be a social support, it may also be a policy that was set out that to create fairness, yet when it gets implemented, it lacks equality for all. Perhaps it’s the type of supervision that you offer – while it works really well for some, are you playing to everyone’s strengths and needs?

Have you asked your team members how they are experiencing the supports that have been in place? Or during a one-on-one meeting, ask each team member what is working and what could be even better for them.

What is working? What is not working? What do we need to start to implement and what do we need to stop doing?

Taking time to reflect on the systemic supports and how they are working every few years is an opportunity to ensure that you are truly supporting your employees, vs. using a technique from another time or organization that doesn’t help your employees get their solid foothold on their work.