Thu. Dec 1st, 2022

I’m curious how many readers heard Annie Lennox sing that blogpost title in their head. She sang it in mine when I was trying to figure out what to title these thoughts that came into my head on my first night post-surgery.

Everybody’s Least Favorite Friend

Everyone has that friend that walk into the room or pops up on the phone screen and makes them pause and ask, “What is it this time?” The friend who tells you what you don’t want to hear and is often right but sometimes very wrong. Pain, is that friend.

What’s interesting is we usually think of pain in a physical sense, much like the pain keeping me awake. We also think of it in an emotional sense. Less often pain is thought of spiritually. As Christians, we can feel a spiritual pain when we are not feeling close to God. Rarely do many people think of pain as organizational. Organizational pain manifests itself in poor performance, turnover, inability to find creative solutions to persistent problems, etc.

Not Always What You Think it is

Referred Physical Pain

Many years ago, I learned a rough lesson about nerve pain. I had a wisdom tooth on the left side of my face that was, unbeknownst to me, causing me to sleep with my jaw out of alignment. It initially manifested as a slight discomfort on the right side of jaw. I’d rub it a bit throughout the day and go on. Eventually, that constant pressure on that nerve overloaded it and the pain transferred to the Trigeminal Nerve. Trigeminal Neuralgia is known as the “Suicide Disease.” I can understand.

After several nights of sleeplessness and several days of waiting to get in to see my doc, I finally got some needed relief. When the doctor heard about how, a possibly potent mix of beer and sleeping medication, he scolded me. I told him I knew it was dangerous but at that point death would have been better than the pain I was experiencing.

Transference of Emotional Pain

Transference is something that isn’t always negative but can be. When it is, painful experiences from our past can be triggered by a familiar situation, mannerisms of a person, or even by a person’s looks. We can find ourselves led astray about the root cause of our current emotional pain because we think the solution lies in figuring out how to address our current situation which actually doesn’t need fixing. It’s not always bad, but that’s the aspect considered here for this blogpost.

Spiritual Pain Not Always Obvious

In our walk with God, we (or at least I) can find ourselves feeling distant from Him. It might be that our prayers feel powerless. It might be that we find it difficult to take time to read The Word. It may just be that we don’t really feel connected in any way.

I’ve had that happen and thought, “I’m just going to read my Bible even harder!” I do. Still, God seems distant and I feel maybe I’ve been rejected. What is usually revealed to me, when I quit trying to solve it myself, is I’ve let some sin sneak in, bitterness toward another, jealousy, pride, etc. and God’s giving me some discipline. But I attributed it to something else because surely I can’t be doing anything wrong!

Organizational Pain

Can an organization really feel pain? Well, not always as a personal experience. Individuals throughout the organization can experience emotional distress due to organizational pain. It might be leaders unable to improve performance. It might be employees who are constantly fighting unnecessary internal or externals battles.

I included this section because one of the phrases I heard over and over again while pursuing my Public Administration degree was this, “Government does an excellent job at coming up with great solutions to the wrong problem.” I’ve worked in government for 35 years now in multiple agencies in many different roles and can attest to the truth of this statement.

So what is organizational pain? It is an emotional pain that drives employees crazy when broken or nonexistent work processes make their jobs difficult and frustrating. Organizational pain causes:
Anxiety in the workplace (dread of work activity);
Negative impact on the company’s daily operations and its capital projects (cost, schedule, quality, safety, risk, and morale);
Addition of extra time to work on tasks because they know it “always takes longer to get done”

Understanding and Removing Organizational Pain

Stopping the Pain

Fortunately, I know the source of the physical pain keeping me up and inspiring me to write this. Unfortunately, too often in other areas of our lives we end up treating the symptoms and not the cause. As a result, we end up continuing to battle pain long-term when we don’t need to.

If you’re dealing with one of these types of pain, pause, assess your situation honestly and with outside input. Work to find the cause and fix that.

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By Derek

Father of three. Married to my best friend. Follower of Jesus Christ. Love the outdoors.

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