Confession: I’m Ashamed of This

We’ve had an unresolved bug floating around for the past few months.  Last week, an affected Client asked me to intervene.

At least half a dozen smart people have tried to nail it down, and while we’ve made some progress, it’s certainly not closed from the Client’s perspective (nor mine).  It continues to hang around.

It irks me that we haven’t been able to put the sucker to rest.

Yesterday, I’ve asked one of our team members to own the problem.  As we sat down to discuss next steps, I felt compelled to share the following:

  1. I begin endeavors with the belief that if there’s a will, there’s a way.  I shared this because I wanted to make sure he believed it was possible to solve the problem.   (If you think something is impossible, it most likely will be…)
  2. I am driven towards taking on challenges others have failed to solve.  If someone tells me a task is impossible, something ignites inside me, and I go berserk as I set my mind to the problem.  In the case of this bug, I could feel my switch turning on.

I’m OK with #1.

What I think is unhealthy about #2 is why I feel compelled to take on the challenge: I do it not only to address the issue, but to show the other person that I can (and implicitly, that they couldn’t).

I confess that solving a challenge others have failed at feeds my ego.

Don’t get me wrong: at times, this trait has come in handy (when it is channeled in a productive way).  But I’m worried that this feeling reflects something darker about my personality … something icky I’m not proud of.

Question: Is this behavior unhealthy? Why or why not?  Why do we sometimes feel the need to show our superiority over others?  Leave me your thoughts in the comments.

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About David Rosendahl
Husband, father, co-founder of MindFireInc, two-time Inc500 software company. I love building things.

13 Responses to Confession: I’m Ashamed of This

  1. Renee Turner says:

    Are you certain it’s a superiority over another person that motivates you? I find it’s the “win” over the issue – it’s an addictive thing when the “wins” are so hard. And yes – I think it is potentially very unhealthy!

    • Hey Renee, it is really hard for me to answer this. Unfortunately, I think I like winning … maybe a little too much in some situations. I’d like to say that it is only winning over the issue, which certainly is very motivating, but I think there’s a bit more there too. Thanks for the comment and hopefully I’ll gain some deeper understanding.

  2. Katie says:

    Yes this behavior is unhealthy, I know because I often get a slight high and bits of “joy” when I experience the same thing in my job. When co-workers are faced with students who display daunting behaviors or are a challenge, I feel so fulfilled when I am the one who is able to deal with them. I think it is our sin nature to seek glorification and feel a sense of accomplishment through our own means.

    • Hey Katie, thanks for the comment. I know what you mean by the “high” — that’s a good way to describe it 🙂 How long have you been aware of feeling this way?

  3. Renee Turner says:

    Hi Katie – I see what you’re saying completely. I just wonder, if our accomplishments are guided by divinity, then the outcome of those accomplishments are the manifestation of divinity aren’t they? Obviously, the accomplishment must fall into the parameters of ones’ Faith to be deemed an “accomplishment” in terms of correlation with our nature. Do you think?

  4. Ryan Schulte says:

    I’m not so sure I would say the behavior is unhealthy, but perhaps a reflection of a broken part of the soul (of all mankind)? It certainly is common. I have seen myself and many men I know draw security from an accomplishment such as the one you described. Accomplishments, especially ones that many others have failed at, have a funny way of making us feel good about ourselves. Which isn’t necessarily bad, unless it is the only thing that makes us feel secure. Paul seemed aware of this Phil 3:3-11. If the accomplishment means more to you than knowing Christ, you should thank God for the behavior. It may be alerting you to a misplaced priority in your soul. This has been the case in my own life many times before. Thanks for the post.

    • Hey Ryan, thanks for stopping by and leaving your thoughts. I’m glad to hear that this may be more common than I thought. You raise a good question about how much the accomplishment means to me, relative to my true priorities. I need to think about that and reflect.

      By the way, is Peter your brother?

      • Ryan Schulte says:

        I’m glad I found your post. I saw this on linked-in and your title caught my eye. I’ve actually been pondering the idea of starting a blog myself on similar topics.

        I don’t have a brother named Peter. “Schulte” seems like an obscure name but as it turns out there’s quite a few of them.

        • Hi Ryan,

          Thanks! If you ever want to chat about the process of blogging on similar topics, or have questions, let me know — happy to share what I’ve learned in the process.

          It takes discipline, but I have found numerous benefits.

          Sorry for the confusion on “Peter” — I knew someone with a similar last name, and I thought perhaps you were related (although I think the spelling is different).

          Take care,
          -dr-

          • Ryan says:

            No problem. I’ll keep your offer in mind. I may take you up on that because I in fact started a blog. http://rschulte70.wordpress.com/ I’m still figuring out how all of this stuff works so we’ll see how it goes.

            • Ryan, any time — seriously. Happy to help! Contact me here or via email (daver@mindfireinc.com) and we can set up a time to chat. Take care.

              • Ryan says:

                Thanks Dave. Will do.

  5. Pingback: Blog Traffic Monthly Report: January 2013 « Akathisia: Life In Motion — David Rosendahl

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