As I was passing, I noticed Anne looking out the window. You may have noted as I have that she stands at her window when reflecting on something interesting; so, I poked my head in to see if she was available to chat.
Anne smiled as she turned and invited me in. “What’s got you thinking?” I asked as we both sat down.
“I was thinking that the lesson will be repeated until it is learned.”
When I raised my eyebrows, Anne continued, “I was looking at the newly mowed lawn and noticing that the plants need watering. It looks like Jason forgot to do the watering, again, and it’s my fault.
“Remember when we first hired him, and I walked around the property pointing out what I would like him to be responsible for over the summer months? And when I went out to inspect the work, I found that he had forgotten to do several of the tasks?”
I nodded, vaguely remembering.
“I decided to prepare a list for him and again, walked the property pointing out each task.
“There was one extra thing I noticed as we walked by and asked him to take care of. When I went out to inspect the work, I noticed that everything on the list was completed but the additional task was not. I pointed this out and he willingly took care of it.
“This happened twice before I remembered to carry a pen so I could add items to the list as we went around.
“I am sure you are wondering why I put up with this apparent level of incompetence.
“Jason is not a professional gardener; he is a handyman (or do I have to say handyperson?) who knows how to do a little of everything and willingly takes on whatever tasks are assigned. He has the right attitude, and I am willing to work with him to expand his range of skills.
“I suspect that he has an acquired brain injury that compromises his ability to remember. He learns and remembers how to do new tasks, but he doesn’t remember to do them the next time.
“This week, I was away from the office while he was here. I sent him a text with the list of tasks; however, that doesn’t seem to have worked. When I wasn’t here to inspect and remind him, the plants did not get watered.”
I asked, “So what will you do now?”
“First of all, I will accept responsibility for deviating from the process that was working. I “changed the rules” and while most people would be able to make that adjustment, Jason cannot.
“Secondly, I will water the plants myself.”
“Why don’t you call him to come back and finish the job?” I asked.
“I know that Jason has limitations and I have chosen to work with him. We had a system that was working for both of us, and I changed it, without any conversation with him.
“For him to be called back would not be fair, it would appear that he was being punished for something that is not his fault.
“This is a lesson for me, and it falls into the category of “the lesson will be repeated until it is learned.” I was given several chances to learn how to communicate with Jason and I didn’t. He works best with a list of tasks, written on paper; lists written in text (digital form) do not work for him.
“From now on, I will be sure to write a complete list on paper. And if I forget something, I will continue to take responsibility for it not being done.”
This story made me think about what Albert Einstein said about doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome.
Are there lessons in your life that are being repeated until learned?