Posts Tagged ‘Dilemmas’

Being in business, regardless of the position or title, brings us face to face with choice points. It’s nonstop! Exploring what it is that has us choose what we choose gets us closer to what it is that motivates us to be who we be and do what we do. It clarifies why our professional and personal life is what it is and not something different. It explains why, regardless of our ambition, education and experience, we just aren’t getting ahead.

If there was only one thing I’d like to get across to all of my corporate clients it’s that the personal is the professional and the professional is the personal. How we be in our personhood, our humanity and life in general is how we be in our professional world as well – always and everywhere.

Within any organization’s walls, how one chooses what they choose to choose is most likely how they choose to choose in every other context of their lives. Though the content may be different the process by which they choose is consistent across the board.

We choose based on some fundamental principles, though these principles will differ from person to person. We choose based on:

  • “This is how it’s always been done so that’s what I’m choosing to choose now.” Limiting parameters limit our ability to choose to think outside the box. We can’t choose differently because we don’t know that there is something else to choose; that there is a box to think ourselves out of.
  • What we are afraid others may find out or decide about us. More people than you can imagine operate from this principle. We source our identity from a decision we made a long time ago – perhaps when we were only four years old, when we found ourselves inadequate to bring about conditions we saw necessary, given the context of our little lives. With this assessment of our limitations comes the fear that we will be found unworthy and unlovable, humiliated and rejected. At this point, we begin cultivating survival strategies that have us avoid being humiliated or rejected by listening for what other people want and need. Based on our own interpretations (as a four year old) we go about fulfilling those needs and wants. Again, more people than you can imagine limit their professional development because they are operating from an immature emotional guidance system, which keeps them choosing based on fear. People with greater degrees of emotional intelligence choose based on the needs of the organizations, not based on fear.

If I continue to choose from a fear-based model, which I developed when I was four years old, I know I’ll remain safe and invulnerable to attack. The consequence of this choice is that I also can’t have what I want, because I’m limiting how I will choose to choose what I choose. If I choose differently I open myself up to vulnerability; however, I’m more likely to cultivate the capacity to be with attacks – not being devastated by them, as I always imagined it to be. I can’t grow myself professionally and I can’t grow the company if I continue to operate from a belief that I made up as a child.

 

  • It’s all about me! It’s not uncommon to hear clients say: “Though I said I was a team player and joined this company to further its growth, I’m really only in it for my own personal gain. I choose to choose based on what will bring about the highest visibility of my efforts and will get me the promotions I’m seeking.”
  • I choose to be a team player, listening for what others want. I don’t contribute any new ideas for fear of being found out that I’m inadequate. I hate to be ridiculed, so I avoid any possibility for that happening, even if it means not getting promoted.

Frankly, we are all in it for personal gain; however, this can mean different things to different people. Personal gain can be related to security, stability and safety, to gaining recognition and rewards, to gaining freedom, fun and flexibility. We never know until we begin to distinguish what it is we are wanting from our life in general and our professional life, specifically.

  • What’s in the best interest of the organization?  A client may say: “I can see my own limitations and inadequacies, and based on the fear of being found out I can hide out in other peoples vision, and limit the fulfillment of my personal and professional vision. Inevitably, I limit the fulfillment of the organization’s vision. At the same time I know that there are ways of being that will advance the initiatives I believe in. In alignment with those initiatives I ‘m willing to be open to possibility, though this may mean being open to ridicule; I will be assertive with my opinions and ideas, though this may mean someone asserting that I’m inadequate; I’m willing to be expansive in cultivating my repertoire of possibility, though this may lead to being found out as silly, ungrounded and unstable.

What needs to be in place in order to support a breakthrough of this dilemma? Trust!

Trust is foundational to any change process. If you don’t trust the organization, your execs and managers, even those who are your peers, you won’t choose to choose differently – it’s too risky! If you don’t trust yourself to have what it takes – an adequate amount of skills, experience, knowledge, and most importantly, self-trust, you won’t take even baby steps toward your desired goal.

Just as an experiment, notice where there is a similar choice making process occurring in your personal life and professional life. Perhaps, for example, you’ll notice that how you speak to your direct reports is the same way you speak to your children or your partner. This can be a fascinating exploration; one that will contribute to your capacity to choose differently and more in alignment with what you really want.

Harvey, a client of mine for over four years, lives and works in LA in the television industry. Brilliant, creative and kind, he makes everyone feel appreciated by his character and presence. Harvey has finally arrived at his dream. Not only does he have the dream job for himself, he’s also getting paid what he’s worth. He is in the groove!

Harvey grew up in the bible belt of Texas. Allowing himself to be worthy of a salary that reflects all of what he brings to his career was a huge undertaking since it went against the primary tenets that money is evil, and that we shouldn’t want material comforts. The underlying conflict between being spiritual and making enough money to thrive has been an underpinning of Harvey’s financial demise for all of his adult life. Now, in his mid-forties, he’s taken the steps required to receive the full benefits and reap the rewards of all he brings to his work life. Success!

This all within the past two months; so Harvey has been adjusting to a whole new reality – money, prestige, a new BMW motorcycle and more. And …

What I love about Harvey is that he is very much awake when it comes to seeing that having arrived at his desired destination doesn’t mean the journey is over; he knows that in many ways, a new journey has just begun.

I was unsure what would show up in this coaching conversation once Harvey fully owned his worth, asked for a raise, got it and so much more. What did arise had me breathe a sigh of relief; for what Harvey brought to light was the realization that the money, the position and the motorcycle does not bring an individual to a sense of fulfillment but for just a few brief ecstatic moments.

To see that the striving for more money, prestige and power as just that, takes a breaking through of a reality that we believe to be the only reality. To see the striving as a spiritual practice changes the attachment to the outcome to something that is accumulative and builds something greater over time; we find ourselves with more wisdom, clarity and strength.

It’s not the destination but the journey

Harvey certainly wanted to enjoy the increase in income, prestige and position, as we all do; but the significance was what he had to shift in himself in order to bring this level of success to fruition. He had to dig deep beyond bible belt beliefs and family circumstances in order to truly honor his gifts. It required him to recognize all of what he brings to the workplace – just as he’s always wanted and provided for others. He had to reframe spiritual tenets to see that it’s not about the money or about worthiness; it’s about breaking through belief systems that don’t serve one’s awakening. He had to think outside the box of a very seductive context in order to realize himself more fully.

Now that he has come to this part of the journey he asks: “What do I have to do to feel comfort and security? I don’t see it as a possibility for myself.”

I wanted to ask: “Why did you get this raise and position if it wasn’t for the comfort and security that comes along with it?” It wasn’t a question to be asked out loud, not yet, because to Harvey, there was so much more going on.

Up until this moment, the edge of Harvey’s comfort zone had been receiving equal payment for the value that he brings to his work. Now that he has expanded his comfort zone to include this he is now, once again on the edge of his comfort zone – how do I allow myself to actually enjoy my life, experiencing the comfort and security I’ve created for myself. This is a whole new world he is opening up to, because he was able to get the value/worth dilemma complete – at least to this point.

There’s a point where one realizes that there is no end or finish line. Those who pretend this is so tend to mask the physical discomforts that arise when living inside a box that will consistently feel smaller and smaller. What’s the point if we never arrive at our final destination – we never get to fully reap the rewards of our labor? Why not just settle for less – less stress, less effort, less personal abuse …?

The questions lead us to ask: What is success? What is fulfillment? What’s it all about? If it’s not about stuff and winning, then what’s worth the effort?

For many people, especially men, the crisis in the mid-life crisis means coming to the edge of one’s reality, peering over, and saying “there’s nothing there!” Illnesses, job loss, collapses of the economy all bring us to these same moments of realization that reveal there’s no security, there’s no money, there’s only nothing! What’s that about?

Big dilemma!

Go forward – there’s nothing.

Stop  – and there’s nothing.

The reason so many of us choose to not choose is because, whatever dilemma we face, choosing to choose brings us to the edge of our comfort zones. It requires that we be uncomfortable, that we be open to seeing ourselves and our reality different and that we be willing to explore and experiment with the countless facets of the achievement we’ve come to be, already, in this life. The edge of nothing is the same edge as thing. The practice of walking both sides of this edge, fearlessly, well, it’s pretty darn scary.

Harvey has gone forward, found that it’s not about the money, about winning or about things. He’s now onto his next big adventure, knowing that whatever he finds, it won’t be about that either. Fortunately he sees the humor in it all and we both laugh our heads off. Being in business is a very fun venture!

You and a colleague, Harry are up for a promotion. You know you are the better person for the job, but Harry got the position. He’s pompous, arrogant and doesn’t have the leadership skills that inspire you to generate, well, anything. You scratch your head in disbelief that he was chosen over you.

Part of you, perhaps wants to sabotage Harry’s efforts and do whatever you can to expose him for the inadequate, incompetent individual that you see him to be; however, that goes against your integrity, and you may end up looking bad and feeling worse in the end.

For some reason, even though the whole office knows of Harry’s incompetence, no one seems to take action. He’s that one rotten apple that spoils the whole barrel.

There are a lot of Harry’s and Harriets in the business world. As an administrative assistant, manager or whatever your position, you know you are smarter than your boss. You deserve his salary and every perk that goes along with his position, because you are working your butt off and he’s the one that is looking good! AAARRRGGHH!

If you go above Harry’s head to his boss, Glenda, you might be not only aggravate Harry but also be making it clear to Glenda that she may have made a choice that is creating negative consequences far beyond any expectations. She’s already regretting her choice and knows there’s nothing she can do.

This scenario is not uncommon. Probably 30% of my business clients are struggling with at least one particular individual that is a thorn in their side. They question their own sanity and the sanity of those who put the Harrys of the world in those positions. What do you do?

It’s a dilemma.

Do you stay or do you go? Do you ask to get transferred? Do you stay and suck it up, because you need the job? Do you try to go around Harry, or do you do what you do best and ignore what Harry wants from you?

My job as a transformational coach is not to fix, heal or convert clients, so they’ll have the answers to problems that they face. My job is to be a thinking partner, empowering clients to unravel all of the complexities that are bringing him or her to this dilemma and this choice-point.

Our businesses systems are no different than our family systems, in that they are generated and driven by survival mechanisms that most likely operate from a fear-based paradigm. They have been cultivated through generations of personal relationships based on cultural, religious, gender and racial factors. Too often wisdom and common sense do not enter into the equation when it comes to how a business or family is operating. We take for granted and assume intelligence and maturity would be foundational to choosing directors, managers and leaders, but trust me, and you may know from your own experience, most people running businesses, departments and corporations function, to some degree, from the emotional intelligence of an adolescent. It makes sense that you are going to think you are smarter than your boss; in some ways you probably are; in other ways you probably aren’t.

Notice the Pattern

The trick is to notice this pattern of operating. When you’re feeling smarter than – what’s the quality of the experience? Are you feeling righteous and arrogant, contemptuous and condescending? Do you feel frustrated and discouraged? What actions are you likely to take from righteous, condescending, frustrated and discouraged? What do you do to compensate for feeling this way? How do you avoid, distract, ignore or deny your own part in this dysfunctional process? By the way, we are all participating in having the Harry’s of the world be where they are.

The questions funnel down to just one:

What is it you are here to learn that has Harry be in your life, in this time, in this way?

Answer this question and you’ll understand what it is you need to shift in order to facilitate the learning. I guarantee that while doing what’s required in order to make the shift, you’ll notice that Harry will either change or go away! It’s fascinating to observe what changes within our environment once we get our part in maintaining it as it has been.

Entangled and embroiled in the cauldron of complexity of our work environment, its challenging to see all of this without a thinking partner or coach who can hold the bigger picture and who also holds you accountable for your participation in the unfolding of your life within this bigger picture. No coach or thinking partner? That’s okay. Just be willing to be truthful in answering the questions above. This alone will create a positive shift for you; and the Harry’s of the world will go POOF!

By the way, some of the Harry’s of the world are my clients too. Given an opportunity to look at what has them choose to choose to be how they be, they, too, willingly shift in support of a larger, more fulfilling outcome. Yey for us all!