How much do you think you compromise on a day-to-day basis? Do you do it in work, in your relationships, in the stories you tell yourself about the choices you do and don’t have? Where did you learn those notions, those stories you tell yourself are ‘the one right way’? And is it easier to justify the justifying because you’re surrounded by people who are doing the exact same thing?
If any of this sounds familiar to you, you’re not alone!. I’ve had some extraordinary conversations this week with successful directors in choice corporate positions. Some of the cultural assumptions I’m hearing include:
- I don’t have a choice really, that’s where the company’s headed, everyone’s in the same boat
- Although I dread work sometimes, I’m lucky really … loads of people I know would love to have this job
- I couldn’t set up on my own – it would take years to match this salary and my family are depending on me
- If I stepped up to a more senior role I’d be more accountable and that means more hours
- Noone has conversations about ‘purpose’ or ‘meaning’ here – it’s just not done – I’d be laughed at
Without transparent conversation everyone thinks they’re the only one who’s not living the dream, the only one who’s compromising and the only one who’s frustrated that today is SO predictably similar to yesterday and, god forbid, tomorrow too! The truth is that most of your colleagues are aspiring to evolve, to have real conversations about real things and to start to live as authentically in their place of work as they do outside.
So where do you start with something as significant as playing a bigger game? It’s a step-at-a-time kind of process, but start today and you’ll be telling some entirely different stories in a short month’s time. Here are some suggestions:
- Once a day, say something genuine (a compliment, an observation, a personal thought) that stretches you out of your comfort zone: ‘I liked the way you spoke to that client. You’re very sincere. I find it challenging to shift my mind away from corporate targets and relate so openly.’
- Ask at least 1 question (beyond ‘how are you, fine?’!!) of each person you speak with in a day that’s not work-related
- Genuinely listen to what’s being said and ask yourself (and others) – ‘how could we add more meaning to this’
- Talk to your customers, readers, viewers, listeners and ask them how what’s good could be better
- Commit to personal & professional mastery and do one thing each day that makes your life richer
Ultimately a company is as successful as those who are leading it, holding the vision, and connecting the purpose of their culture, product & service to the relevance of their customers lives. When you step out of the intellect and engage with ‘meaning’ you let go the effort of up-stream and start to move with the current.
When you say ‘I messed up’,it’s real & people can relate. When you say ‘I don’t know, can we figure it out together’ there’s shared purpose. When you speak out that ‘Let’s hold an intention that in 6 months time we’ll all be working less, earning more and in our freed up time be doing more sport, playing more music and hanging out more with our partners … let’s make that happen’, you’re tapping into an energy that has the power to engage massive creativity & solutions.
Playing BIG is an arena where justifications are replace by opportunities. Only YOU know your heart (and if you’re not 100% clear, then 2 hours in a quiet room with a blank piece of paper and this question ‘What do I really want’ – work, romance, finances, health, recreation, family & friends, personal growth, service to others – will get you significantly closer to your answer). Only YOU know how this part of your career fits with your biggest purpose.
Playing BIG is not rocket science. You DO have to separate yourself from the ‘nay sayers’. You DO have to develop a process of conscious observation of your own limited thinking. You DO have to be bold, say yes … and leap.
The opposite of courage is not cowardice, it’s conformity!