Daily Archives: August 5, 2010

RESPECT: Just a Little Bit!

Do you ever have those days, weeks, or months where life just gets you down? Too many projects to juggle. Too many battles too fight. Too many bills to pay. Not enough hours in the day.

Do you ever feel like this?

He looks how I feel sometimes...

My self-portrait!

The last few weeks have been rough. Getting my daughter Steph graduated and packed for Africa consumed much of my energy and emotion. I haven’t recharged yet. I can see it daily, as I allow typical bureaucratic in-fighting to get under my skin. Normally I’m more resilient. Now, I just feel flat.

Doing the right thing can be hard...I received lots of TWencouragement from tweeps. Like this tweet from Gordon Vaughn @aeroG of Houston, Texas:

Tweet: Doing right thing is about long-term perspective.What’s been really hard lately (for a career government employee who despises paperwork of any kind — except a paycheck, and those are electronic now) is putting in place legal documents to enable a 5-year exhibit contract, a never-been-done-before technology concept to capture innovative thought-processes, and partnerships to propel forward our next LAUNCH sustainability forum.

Bow Wave by artist Edouard Kamhi

Bow Wave by artist Edouard Kamhi

Think about a power boat slicing the water in forward progress. What’s left behind? A bow wave. The water has to go somewhere, and it’s powerful enough to swamp another boat.

If you travel through the air, you create a shock wave. The point is: with forward movement, you displace what was once there and shift it somewhere else.

It’s the same in the government. You can push forward and make significant progress, but at some point, the paperwork catches up with you. It’s simply a given…

The cost of doing business with the government: paperwork.

But in the midst of all the scrambling the past few weeks to make sure we document the cool things we’re doing at NASA, a colleague made this comment to me:

“What’s different about you, Beth, is that you respect the bureaucracy.”

Ok, I’ve got to admit. I was horrified. I abhor bureaucracy. It’s the bane of my existence. When I asked what she meant, she explained. Though I push the envelop and make people crazy with my new ideas, I respect that legal documents make everything work.

I had to admit. She’s right. What I’ve learned through 25 years getting smacked around by the goverment: the law is the law. We can argue interpretation of the law (and I’m pretty good at arguing for flexibility), but we need our lawyers to bless our forward progress.

If our lawyers are with us, who can be against us…if you know what I mean.

I learned something new about myself in the midst of this crazy, chaotic, bureaucratic nightmare I’m in the middle of:

I really DO respect the difference between doing my own thing, and doing the right thing. Hopefully, they’ll always be the same thing.

Where’s Aretha when I need her? I feel like singing...R.E.S.P.E.C.T…just a little bit…!

Crosspost on GovLoop.com.

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Filed under culture, federal government, Gov 2.0, leadership, NASA, social media