Keeping My Side of the Street Clean

Keeping My Side of the Street Clean

Street“In my early profession years I was asking the question: How can I treat, or cure, or change this person? Now I would phrase the question in this way: How can I provide a relationship which this person may use for his own personal growth?”

Carl Rogers


The rooms of 12 step programs are bursting with wisdom. You can’t make it out of an hour meeting without some pithy saying urging and reminding you to keep focused on what you can control – which is simply you.

Jim was always reminding me to stay on my side of the street. “Keep your side clean and let the other person worry about her side of the street,” he would counsel me. I have overwhelming urges to cross the street. Sometimes I clean up the messes I find and sometimes I yell at the other person to clean it up themselves.

No matter what, I wonder how the heck I crossed the street without even realizing it! I’m afraid my street crossing is a bit like sleep walking – I’m not always aware of it when I’m doing it.

As a supervisor, it is my job to keep the whole street clean. So how do you know when you’ve crossed over to the dark side? Here’s a hint – when you are trying to change someone or make them change you are in the “other side of the street” territory. Stay focused on changing your own behavior, like getting better at delivering feedback, holding people accountable or coaching someone for skill development.

Notice your street this week. When needed, clean up your side. If you street cross, get back to your own side.

I’m wondering how many street crossers are out there. Am I the only one?