Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Don't let the "service users" grind you down.

I have observed that:
1) Prison would be great if it weren't for the prisoners.
2) Schools would be great if it weren't for the pupils.
3) The health service would be great if it weren't for sick people.
4) Churches would be great if it weren't for the churchgoers.
5) Public transport would be great if it weren't for the public.
6) Police work would be great if it weren't for the MOPs (Members of the Public).
7) Family life would be great if it weren't for the kids. NO cancel that. Too far, anyway they might read this one day.

Shiny new institutions are set up, or old institutions get new direction and purpose, and everything starts out great. All those working in them are signed up to the vision and really believe they can make a difference. The training helps them to feel equipped and ready to serve. There is a great sense that the world can be a better place.

And then along come the "service users" and reality kicks them in the butt, hard. The service users are not overcome with gratitude. The service users are not playing by the rules and following the path it was envisaged they would follow. The service users are, goodness me, critical. They moan and whine and complain, so far from the expected gratitude are they.

And the service deliverers?

Do they/we rise above it?
Do they/we turn the other cheek?
Do they/we hang onto the vision of what we're about, through thick and thin?
Do they/we resist bitterness and cynicism, knowing that all that that will achieve is an exacerbation of the problem?
Do they/we encourage each other to keep our chin up and our head down (however those things are simultaneously achieved!)?
Do they/we resist the urge to start squabbling amongst ourselves, department against department within the institution?
I know the answer to those questions that should be, is, a lot of the time, not the answer that is. I know that prisoners, pupils, patients, church members, the public, may manipulate us and try our patience to its limit, but... BUT, if we can keep our head when all about are losing theirs, and keep the faith, and keep the vision, and aim high (even when all evidence points to the contrary and people laugh at our naivete) I think we'll be prouder looking back on our "careers" than if we give up and just endure the working day for the sake of the pay and the pension.

IF you can keep your head, when all about you
are losing theirs - and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself, when all men doubt you,
but make allowances for their doubting too;

If you can wait, and not be tired by waiting,
or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
and yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise.

If you can dream, and not make dreams your master;
if you can think, and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet triumph and disaster,
and treat those two imposters just the same.

If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken,
twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
and stoop and build them up with worn-out tools.

If you can make one heap of all your winnings,
and risk it all in one turn of pitch and toss -
and lose, and start again, at your beginnings,
and never breathe a word about your loss.

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew,
to serve your turn long after they are gone,
and so hold on when there is nothing in you,
except the will which says to them - "Hold On".

If you can do all this and more -
you'll be a man, by son, you'll be a man.



Fred Shope said...

The only thing I would say differently is that schools would be great if it weren't for the parents. :)

Sage said...

I love Rudyard Kipling and particularly that poem... I find it very moving and quite apt for today's world.