Several months ago something significant changed for me. As a result of my activities in coaching I’ve learned to be present with parts of myself I have been neglecting or possibly denying for a very long time. Vulnerability is certainly one of them as was evident by my post several weeks ago. Intimacy with those around me whether it’s my wife, boys, family, friends or the people I work with. My values and priorities have become very clear to me now. And so much more.
I just learned something over the week-end when being coached. The topic isn’t overly important, but in that space I was placing my work ahead of my family life. My goal is to build a successful coaching business allowing me choice in how I spend my time. The most important thing is I have space for my family, without worrying about paying the mortgage.
Over the past month things have been very busy for me in business (in a good way), so I was not getting the time I love to connect with family. I started wrestling with this and what developed was a strong impatience for making progress on the business.
Imagine standing in the middle of a big room. Going off in all directions are bungie cords tying you to the walls around you. At the end of each bungie cord is a sign stating one of your values. If you start moving to one side of the room the other cords will tighten up. The tighter you make them the harder you will have to work to remain where you are. This is what was happening for me as I was moving closer to my values around a successful business.
During my past lives working with companies I can think of several times I was working hard against my values. I can also think of many places I’ve been witness to this happening for others. The impact can be significant for the people involved.
I know of one company where moving up the corporate ladder required sacrifice. To move upward on the ladder you must be willing to work very extensive hours on an on-going basis. It seems the reward for doing good work and working long hours is more work to do. For me this would have meant career advancement which is good, but required putting aside my strong values around family. In other words I couldn’t move ahead in this company AND live the life I wanted.
In another company management responded to problems by adding process. When quality was low they added more testing processes. When there were design problems they added another sign-off to the list (more than 20 sign-offs were required at one point). When coding standards weren’t be followed they added more rigorous code reviews. If a person had strong values around continually making things better they quickly became frustrated and left the organization. They weren’t being asked to tap into their complete self.
“There is no place for emotions at work.” Have you heard this before? What are emotions to you? For me they are the most beautiful sign of something important to the person, specifically their values. For example: Tears used to make me uncomfortable and I would give the other person a kleenex to help them control the tears. When I would do that though I was telling them I didn’t approve of what was surfacing. I was asking them to not bring their values to our discussion. I was telling them not to bring their whole self! I was asking them to work against some values.
There are so many ways I’ve witnessed companies asking people to not bring their whole self to work. Our values are what define us and it’s not possible to leave some of them at home every day. That’s what makes each of us human, and that’s what makes each of us beautiful! Maybe it’s time to start embracing our humanity rather than working against it.
Let everyone bring their whole self to work … it’s the only thing possible!