The Peter Principle vs. Peter's Principles and The Tale of Two Katies
The last few days have been very interesting. In a few short weeks my day job has gone from being a venue that I dealt with confidently (annual and container plantings for a large development company) to the huge learning curve job of overseeing the company’s entire landscape and irrigation installation department. I look in the eyes of those I work with and see “but she’s just the ‘the flower lady’” and almost hear their heads rattle as they shake them in dismay. The term ‘the Peter Principle’ seems to be on everyone’s lips.
Was this a position I sought and fought for? No.
Is this a position I embrace. Of course. It never occurred to me that I couldn’t do this job. My only concern has been, “How long until I can do this job with excellence,” and “will I be given the tools to learn my job well.” I tend to ignore the Peter Principle, which is the idea that in business, people are promoted into jobs with duties they cannot fulfill, and hope my focus is more on Peter’s principles.
You may have heard of Peter – he was fisherman who became a disciple of Christ, who was always sticking his foot in his mouth, who seemed to act first and think later, yet Christ chose him to be the person to help build his church. And Peter wrote two letters, the first of which spoke some of how I should handle my responsibilities as an employee (I Peter 2:13-21) by showing respect to all those around me, to do good in all I do, and to serve diligently those I serve. Peter’s life was about hard work, having a teachable spirit, and not being afraid to face his mistakes and learn from them. His influence was felt more deeply because he knew he needed the help of others.
The more I thought about living out Peter’s principles, the more I thought about the stories I have followed over the last few years of two very different Katie’s. Katie deSwanville has a blog called NorCalKatie and I enjoy her thought provoking post and perspective on life and gardening. I gained keen interest in her writing, though, when I read that she had been stricken with spinal meningitis and hovered near death for months. She faced an obstacle that destroys many lives, yet the moxie that I enjoyed in her pre-meningitis days when she would face life’s obstacles and proclaim, “Bring it!” seemed to be her subconscious battle cry in her long recovery. There are no skills for battling death, there is only a passion to live. This is a gal who seems almost polar opposite to most of what I believe socially, politically, and spiritually. But her mantra is “Be not afraid of death.
Be afraid of the unlived life.” The learning curve seems to be her mode of operation.
The other Katie is another 20 something who left for Uganda at age 18 for a year of mission work and has ended up being foster mother to 15 young women and starting a mission to educate and care for hundreds of orphans in this war ravaged country. Katie Davis had no formal skills to do what she did (you MUST read her book, Kisses From Katie), but she had plenty of passion. Her young life has inspired and influenced more lives than most folks ever will, and the thought, "Can I do this?" never seems to part of her forward motion.
So I’m thinking that as I plan to stay away from ‘The Peter Principle’ and follow Peter’s Principles, I might just start saying I’m using the Katie Principle – to look at what is set before me, to use the passion that has driven me to this industry (what a great way to ‘Cultivate a Culture of Gardening’ by setting an example of good gardening principles in landscape installment!), and look that learning curve in the eye and proclaim, “Bring it!”.
Labels: Not Necessarily About Plants