So after last night’s debacle and the media and social media aftermath last night and today, I find it to be incredibly appropriate to re-post this on Jay Cutler and his affect on people.
So my wife after reading my blog post on Jay Cutler yesterday and after reading some of what’s out there online said the following line to me today, “It’s pretty evident that a lot of people really want something from him that he’s not able to give.” She’s genius always, but really loved her assessment of what’s been blowing up in the sports world the last couple of days.
When I think about the most intense conflict situations on teams that I’ve been a part of or on teams that I’ve mediated, this same dynamic is almost always at work. People are wanting something from some one and often what people are wanting is just not there to be experienced. What someone is wanting is just not a part of the skill set or capacity of the person that it is wanted from. This creates a tough dynamic and actually a more reactionary cycle.
Here’s how it goes. There’s some type of legitimate need or desire. It doesn’t get met or reciprocated. The original desire transforms into a demand through lack of reflection and self-control amidst increasing anxiety. Resistance increases in defensiveness and anxiety-in-kind. Demands with more anxiety and lack of response or solution turn into demonization and everything becomes personal and so on and so on.
If one steps back from the Jay Cutler saga you see millions of people, fans, athletes all fairly strongly demanding certain types of behavior from Jay Cutler: smile more, be more encouraging, be more involved, be nicer in public, be more passionate on the sidelines, be tougher, be more skilled, be more clutch, be more available, be more authentic…basically, be somebody else.
If you are in a anxious situation on your team or in your family or in your community, maybe somebody is doing this to you or maybe you’re doing this to someone else. I’ve wanted things from people that they didn’t have it in them to give before. Other people have wanted things from me before that I didn’t have it in me to give them. So what do you do? Talk louder? Ask more clearly? Demand stronger?
Communication can be a beautiful thing so healthy interactions always start with open and honest attempts at dialogue. But sometimes you run into brick walls and limitations. Sometimes people want things that just aren’t there to be given back to them.
My suggestion – after trying to communicate through it as adults and honestly expressing desires and preferences and if it’s still not working – just be sad about it and figure out what you need to do next to steward what you do have control of. To keep demanding what’s not there is insane and only ends up fueling an increasingly toxic environment. So learn to be sad and accept people’s limitations, while also learning how to own your own feelings and disappointments.
That is one of the top 2 or 3 leadership and life lessons that I’ve learned in the past 15 years of ministry and leadership.
The more people try to get Jay Cutler to be someone he is not or be at a certain level of maturity or relational capacity that he is not at yet, the more anxiety will build and result in more extreme reactions. Certain people will sucked into Jay being scapegoated and become unabashed Jay supporters defending him from the world. Others will be unable to see Jay’s humanity or give him the benefit of the doubt or see his positive attributes. For systems fans, this would the be fusion / cut-off dynamic.
Differentiated people can critique Jay for what he does not do well (and there are several things here) and they can also maintain an open mind to see positives when they are there (and there are several positives). They can be learners too. It’s the same on teams, families, and whatever system you might be in. Differentiated people can recognize limitations without demonizing and placing demands. They can see a greater range of choices for themselves, while immature and anxious people typically feel bound to their situation and feel trapped without choices.
So think about a relationship that you might have that you are demanding something that just might not be there. What are your choices? What are the limitations? How might you respond in a way that focuses on your own mature functioning rather than trying to change someone that might not have the capacity to change (or change fast enough for you)?