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I don’t remember when I started noticing the friction between the social justice committee and the rest of the church, but it had to have been before I was 12. I was one of those kids that always ran around with the grownups, so when the grownups were being weird I noticed. And what I noticed was that the social justice people pretty much always got side-eye from the leaders of the congregation. Sometimes one of them would get on the board, but generally they were the slightly-outcasts, the tolerated, the recipients of not-so-subtle eyerolls and exasperation at their “unrealistic” expectations.
(I was ALSO the kid who came home from school and did a sociological breakdown of all the cliques at school for my overwhelmed mother, so this is hardly surprising.)
So I knew, as surely as I knew that I had to stay invisible at school to avoid being bullied, that I needed to not be *too much* about my idealism and justice. I wanted the adults to like me and trust me. I wanted approval. I wanted support. So I toned it down.
And here’s the kicker–it worked. I hate that it worked, but it worked.
For middle school and high school I developed a public persona that was passionate about the right things in the right ways, and not too vehement in public about anything else. I learned to demure and prevaricate and generally avoid pissing anyone off, especially if they were being supportive of my increasingly large scale projects in the church. And I never forgot what could happen if I strayed too far from that center line, because the church was my lifeline. It saved me over and over again. It also (ironically) helped me figure out who I am, helped my intensiveness come to the fore.
And then I let it out a little more than was acceptable, I became a minister with opinions and…I do consulting now for a reason. It turns out opinions work best either in small doses over a long period of time, or in a large dose but then you have to go away so they don’t overdose, and I chose option two.
But I still never forgot the dynamic with the social justice committee. And when I developed the SIEF model, I knew immediately how it could help with that. Because social justice committees are usually composed mostly of intensives, and teams with a lot of intensives are a LOT.
And that, I have learned, is not just about churches. It’s about everyone. And when the intensives have to work with expansives, well…
I was going to say it’s asking for trouble, but it’s not asking for trouble unless everyone has been trained to have contempt for everyone else. Unfortunately, our culture trains us in that particular contempt practically from day one. Intensives are “too much”, “a lot”, “irresponsible”, “flaky”, “unrealistic”. Expansives are “boring”, “slow”, “lack vision”, “lack empathy”, “unimaginative”.
So imagine for a moment a world where we loved each other.
The minute the intensive founder of a company understands that her expansive company president or team lead or COO or administrator is her dream colleague is the minute that about eighty five tons of weight comes off of both their shoulders. Their eyes light up. The ideas start flowing. “Oh you mean I don’t have to do this spreadsheet because she loves it? And I don’t have to feel guilty for giving it to her?”
No. You don’t. Not because you’re paying her but because *she loves it*.
And also, she’s going to set some boundaries so she can handle the absolute flood of brilliance that you pour on her head every morning without warning. And you’re in charge of all the ideas, so she doesn’t have to be.
And then the rest of the team is busy passing work around, because the expansive just wants to get everyone organized and the intensive just wants to churn out creative content all day and why not? That’s how they work best. They can better predict each other’s needs and feelings and communicate better and share better and…
And resentment is down. Contempt is down. Productivity is up. Retention is up.
Ethics are stronger.
And everyone’s needs get met–including yours.
And the bottom line, because that matters too.