(Or, notes on the part of the work that will not be written in your accomplishment report)
Administrative work shouldn’t be too difficult if it were just a matter of implementing a program and keeping house (or pushing paper to keep the office running).
But it isn’t just that — that isn’t even the hard part of it.
It’s about managing conflicts and presiding over clashing interests, which for your own safety you should able to identify early on because some of the proponents of those interests want to destroy everything in its way, even you.
There are individuals who cause unnecessary conflicts.
Unnecessary, because their forms of “aggression” are meant only to advance their own interests and not any program that would benefit others. They sow intrigue and spread lies because they are dissatisfied with the efforts made to support their “careers”, or their properties, or their vast holdings, or their ambitions. They have a sense of entitlement. That is the phrase you’re looking for. They’ve been granted the most — and they want more. And they will start to publicly blame you in the hope that that would undermine everything. Fortunately, they don’t have any support, and enjoy no credibility. Be alert and deprive them of whatever capability they have left to do more harm, peacefully and legally.
There are those who want to use you as a tool to whack at someone, their “enemy”, so they could promote themselves or members of their group. If it were up to them, they would give you no peace until they are able to wrench the lifeblood out of their “enemy” by using you. They know no rest and want you to feel the same. You have to secure a perimeter around yourself in dealing with these people.
You have to know how to manage conflicts – and for your own health, you have to put designated hours for it. At the end of those hours, messages, statements, and other forms of pressure should not be allowed to have any effect on you, unless the lives of a large number of people, or their well-being, are on the line. (Woe unto you if all your messages involve the safety of large numbers of people all the time – you should have shifts.)
There are conflicts that are necessary – those deserve your time and energy. Disagreements over substance, and even form, disagreements over matters that involve public safety, or law-enforcement and killings, or corruption and governance – disagreements whether it is even politically correct to blame the victims for getting killed, blaming fishermen for drowning during a storm or blaming children of poor families for being caught in floods, blaming reporters and media organizations for the government’s incompetence in containing hostage-taking situations, or blaming murdered journalists for getting killed because they did not observe ethics perfectly.
Those are worth fighting over, or fighting for.
You have to identify the petty and the pompous — and put a limit to what they can do.
Pay attention to the significant and the substantial.
And finally, the best way to handle the hostilities being fomented by the imperial and self-important is to unify the people around you by convincing them that the plan that had been agreed upon is the better way. This takes time and patience, many hours of consultations and conversations and walking and writing and listening to everyone.
Unfortunately, this difficult aspect of the work is the part that doesn’t go into the accomplishment report.
A young policy-maker we met a couple of months ago said: “We should not be attached to the offices and posts that we hold. No matter how big or small. These institutions will outlive us. They’ll have to continue long after we are gone. We can make them better, then be prepared to leave them in better state to those next, after us, when it is time.”
There’s a crass version of the quote from, of all places, a Hollywood blockbuster action movie. (You know i’m a sucker for bubblegum, fast-paced formula-based, well-filmed action movies, don’t you). The villain-character, a dysfunctional, criminal physicist, threw back a line at his billionaire-patron:
In his Rusian accent, in between his gold-plated teeth, he said:
“Duwnt (don’t)…. geet (get) attached… to theengs (things).”
“Leearrn (learn) tuh (to)… liet (let) guh (go)…”
But… don’t you get it?
For the obsessed, letting go requires, ironically, a lot of discipline. For the insatiable and the power-hungry, letting go, when the end is near, requires grace.