Please let me start by giving you little insight into my career. I have never held a job for more than five years. I have never been fired but was ‘down-sized’ out of a company once which closed it’s doors shortly afterward. I know I’ve always had a big impact on the companies I worked with, and my departure was usually met with some level of disappointment for having lost me. I remember being frustrated numerous times thinking “why didn’t they tell me how much they appreciated me BEFORE I quit”.
I really can’t complain as I’ve had some really incredible positions & opportunities over the years. I’ve worked in numerous industry sectors including government, aviation, retail and financial. Over the years, I’ve had plenty of good performance reviews, raises, and promotions. I did once get a bad performance review which I can now see came at a time I was disgruntled and on my way out. So perhaps it was reflecting what was true.
I’d jump into an organization and start working really hard. I’d get to know their way of working, then start to providing leadership and trying to contribute in bigger and bigger ways. In some cases, I worked a shit-load of hours in the name of success. If I had a dollar for every time I worked until 2am I’d be wealthy now.
Then on a fairly consistent basis a pattern emerged. After a couple years I would start to be disillusioned, impatient, and just generally unhappy with the job I was in. I would then start making some moves to correct this by going after more. I’d push for a promotion, or a raise or some other kind of notoriety. This would go on for a period of time, and eventually I’d give up as I couldn’t get want I wanted. So I’d move into a mental state of quit. Being in quit is a mental state we use to protect our emotional selves.
Here comes the insanity part
Finally after having given up on the current job I would start job hunting. I’ve always been fortunate as it hasn’t taken me overly long to find the next job. I would get excited about the opportunity, and what it was going to offer me in my career. I remember saying to Rosie numerous times; “this is the one, I feel I could retire from this job! It’s going to be different this time!” Then off I’d go with confidence into the new job and the cycle would start all over again.
Einstein coined the definition of insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result”. Yup … that’s me!
I am not enough
What I’ve come to realize is I have been working from a mindset of “I am not enough”. It meant I was always trying to get validation from what I have. When I talk about having I’m talking about my position, salary, notoriety, leadership, or just simply the goto person. Having is also as simple as getting a pat on the back and those simple acknowledgments. The problem with being in this mindset of wanting in order to be something is I was never happy. It never felt as if I could have enough to allow me to be what I wanted.
Over the years, I remember numerous times in which I’d express how I was feeling. I wanted to correct the situation as I believed I remember feelings of being dismissed. People didn’t understand why I felt this way, and they’d assure me I was doing a great job and my contributions were valued. This didn’t seem like enough, though, and eventually as I’ve already told you I would quit. I would stop caring and eventually go somewhere else in search of having what I needed to be what I want.
I am enough
What I know now is my disillusionment, unhappiness, and impatience over the years was something I was creating. The way I was showing up is always trying to prove something, always seeking attention, never really appreciating, always thinking I had to have more. What I know is this starts with me, and being in a mindset of I am not enough meant people would respond to me in this way.
The truth is I know I am enough. My intention going forward is to always be what I want. I want to always have freedom. Freedom of choice. Freedom to have fun. Freedom to be happy. More important than all the others is the freedom to just be me.
Leading for Change
There’s plenty of work out there talking about the states of being, doing, and having. What I can see in many organizations is the cultures are based on doing and having. At it’s most extreme I know several which actively discourage the being part of this.
If your culture is focused on doing and having first, you likely see things like power silos, bonus systems, formalized performance review processes, solving people problems with process, and strict PMO & Governance structures. In doing this, it’s totally possible a large majority of the people never believe they can really be what they are at work. It could explain why no-one really seems to care about results.
If you want lasting change, it’s time to shift the culture to one which actively encourages and supports people being first. I believe most people long to be respected, appreciated and valued. They want to be the best at what they do. When organizations impose strict structures around how things are done and tell people how to work they loose this sense of being.
Life is a journey
I love every step I’m taking on this journey of life. With each passing day I feel more freedom than I could have imagined. It’s not always easy or comfortable, but I love where this is heading.
I’ve said it before in a post, and I’m sure I’ll be saying it again … I know:
I am enough