Being a husband, a father, and someone who does shift work, I tend to do most of my writing/thinking at night. Perhaps I should change the name of my blog to Roger’s midnight ramblings. Of course, many of the people who probably read this blog (after publishing their grids, of course!) also do shift work. Tonight’s ramblings revolve around navigating through the various passions in our field.
Being passionate is great and, in my opinion, an integral part of what we do. While we probably all share some common passions, there is also diversity in what drives us and that is ok. If everyone in an office/company/TV station is passionate about severe weather, what happens when the next snowstorm comes around? If everyone in research only cared about winter weather, what good is that for severe weather? Diversity in passions is healthy.
Lately, though, I’ve come to see that, if unchecked, passions can be unhealthy at times. See, out of our passions come strong opinions/beliefs. Diversity in passions is a beautiful thing, but it means we don’t all agree on everything. Someone who isn’t as passionate about severe weather may not feel as strongly about certain severe weather-related things as someone who is passionate in that area. Or, maybe you have a case of two people who are passionate about severe weather, but hold very strong and opposing opinions within that passion. It’s these opposing, strong viewpoints that I’ve wrestled with more recently.
I don’t know if this is a part of my personality or not, but I have always struggled with seeing the good in any opposing viewpoint. Not a good place to be! The last two years in the NWS have taught me, more than any other time in my life, that I simply cannot live this way. Realizing this has been an important step for me personally, but putting it into action? Now that’s a whole other ballgame. Keeping an open mind is tough and requires some painstaking effort at times (or, at least, it does for me anyway). Even with this new mindset, there are still certain things that for the life of me I cannot understand how someone could see it differently. In a church, a pastor might ask for an “amen” here, but since this is a blog, can I get a “write on!”?
But here’s the thing. In my experience, some of the things I have felt very strongly about turned out not to be as big of a deal as I made them out to be, or simply misplaced, after actually listening to the opposing side. Man, some of those times I really didn’t want to change my mind. Now, before people start questioning every opinion they hold dear, let me be clear. I do think there are things worth fighting for. Countless people throughout history stood up for what they believed in and positive change came about from it. What the past two years have taught me, though, is that I have to pick my battles.
I’m not saying we need to put all of our opinions under a microscope, but I do think it is worth taking some time to think through those strongly-held opinions to see what our motives might be, what facts support (or disprove) our beliefs, etc. This is a big reason why I blog. Even if no one else reads these, writing helps me to think through issues. Maybe that works for you, maybe it doesn’t. Perhaps sharing things with co-workers or posting your opinion in 160 characters or less works. Maybe it’s thinking on the car ride home. It won’t always be easy, but in my experience it has helped me to figure out which battles are worth fighting and which aren’t. It has also helped me to figure out what things I am probably way off on and which things I might be on to something.
You can probably all think of that person who seems to always pick every…single…little…battle. Perhaps you have been that person. I know I have before! Looking back, I don’t know what I was thinking. When we pick every battle, we run the risk of becoming white noise…a clanging cymbal that people don’t want to hear or don’t take a seriously. In our field, there are a lot of things worth fighting for in my opinion. But, there is a time and place for everything and, in some cases, it just might be that a battle simply isn’t worth fighting at all. I struggle with the idea of letting go of some battles. And, gosh, where do you even start on deciding which to let go of? Perhaps letting go of one or two here and there will help bring about change in those things that are even more important. I can’t tell you what battles you should fight and which you shouldn’t. That is just a part of the sportiness of this whole process. Heck, some things worth fighting for in one company or office may not be worth it in another.
On a quick side not here, in this whole process of picking my battles, I’ve been reminded to show a little grace when others pick every battle. I’ve done it before and maybe many of you have as well. Perhaps you’ve got the picking your battles thing all figured out, but that’s not the case for all of us. It may be annoying when others do this, but try to cut them some slack. You might even be able to help them work through what is important and what isn’t. Several in my office have helped me work through some battles and I am better for it. Whatever you do or wherever you work, there’s a good chance you are part of a team. If we work together through our weaknesses and show a little grace, we are probably all better off for it.
In this struggle of picking our battles, it may be easy to lose a little passion in the process. Don’t let that happen! About 6 months into my career with the NWS, I let this happen and, boy, do I regret it. Just because you may have to back off on some things, doesn’t mean the passion for the job should as well. I think the key is to find that balance of when to stand up and when to back off a bit. Plus, think of it this way. If on the flipside you do pick every battle, you’re probably going to get burnt out. What good does that do you or anyone else? I love seeing people find their niche/their passion. I equally hate seeing people lose their passion. If I can stress anything, please don’t lose that passion! Keep it in check and healthy, but don’t lose it. In the words of Leslie Nielsen, “We’re all counting on you”.