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The Consequences of Not Cooperating

Today I had to face the reality that not everyone is like me. This awareness happened as I was discussing a current project I’m working on. The goal was to recruit a number of people to pursue their goals. Excuse me for being general, but I have to protect the privacy of the individuals here.

So what happened is that these select group of people signed on to a project. The goal was that they continue working until they’ve completed their requirements and were commended for their work. Well, one of the deadlines came up today and I’ve been working to reach the candidates so we can discuss next steps. Two of these individuals decided not to cooperate. One of them offered to call me back when she had finished up whatever she was doing, but never did, and the other decided to ignore all my communications.

I went through several levels of feelings: frustration, judgment, anger, and finally disappointment. All these two folks had to do was get back to me and say, hey, I’ve changed my mind and I’m dropping out. Instead, they chose to ignore me and leave me to make an important decision for them that would impact their lives over the next two years. Let’s just say this decision was going to either make or break them. It’s an awful place to leave someone at, frankly. I mean, who wants to be the administrator of someone else’s fate?

At this point, I was confused. This was an opportunity for these individuals to finally meet their life-long goals. Not only were they not cooperating, but they were leaving that critical decision in my hands, and boy was I furious.

I thought back to my own life and the opportunities I was so fortunate to have had, and obviously taken. I thought about how responsible I’ve always been about being taken serious as a responsible and reliable person. I thought about how important character and honor was always important to me. Then I received an awakening.

“Well,” my dear therapist reminded me, “not everyone can be you”. First of all, this pissed me off because it was as valid and true a statement as it was pure and simple. “Of course I don’t expect everyone to be like me,” I muttered desperately. But my words and actions did not reflect that sentiment at all. I was upset because it felt as I had let these women down.

At this point in time, the emotional me was replaced by the professional one. I had a choice: to try and contact these women one more time and give them another chance to do the right thing, or penalize them. By the time I reached my laptop, I decided on the latter. It occurred to me by this time that my continuous attempts to reach out to them would not teach them anything. That life is about hard lessons, and since they apparently didn’t care, why should I continue to try? So, I did it. I took no action on their accounts and now they’re going to face some tough consequences.

Was I mean? Maybe. Was I justified? Absolutely. You can’t go through life expecting people to go out of their way to provide you with opportunities and you disregard them. There are consequences for giving up – on yourself, your opportunities, on chance encounters that can change your life.

Frankly, I have no regrets. I did everything possible to give these women a hand up. In fact, I went out of my way. The least they could have done was return my calls and emails. They didn’t, eventually robbing two other candidates from ever realizing their goals. And I hope they learn their lesson.


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