As I mention in my writing from time to time, knowledge is often not the missing element in us getting in action toward achieving our goals. It is helpful to learn new concepts, or be reminded of what we already know, but the true culprit is almost always the inspiration and inclination to be straight with ourselves about what is holding us back from acting on our insights. Think of any area of your career or life that is not going as well as you would like it and do an honest assessment of yourself against the habits I describe to determine which apply to you. We all know the theory behind what it takes to be successful and fulfilled, but we rarely take a hard look at ourselves to see why we don’t actually operate that way. That is what this episode is about.
America once again celebrated its independence this week, so I decided to base this week’s post on the same topic. Just as a sovereign nation becoming independent of foreign rule is something to be celebrated, each of us individually must also strive for and indeed celebrate our independence. Although we all sooner or later find ourselves declaring our independence from those who raised us, as we develop the ability to care for ourselves, our success and fulfillment in life is often hindered because we remain dependent on hidden factors that rob us of our right to exercise “the last of the human freedoms” as Victor Frankl put it. This freedom, he said, was “to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way” no matter what was happening.
After publishing my blog post titled “The 13 Destructive Behaviors of Toxic Bosses” a couple of weeks ago, I received several inquiries about how one might go about surviving these bosses, which prompted me to publish this post. I hope that the suggestions here will be useful and beneficial to the unfortunately large number of people out there who are working for bosses who have no clue how to be leaders. Most workplaces put a great deal of emphasis on hiring the best talent out there and bringing in extraordinary people, only to make them feel less than ordinary by relegating them to toil under an unqualified, toxic boss. Great organizations ensure that their leadership team is enlightened because they know that great leaders can take even seemingly “ordinary” people and bring out the extraordinary in them.
Years ago, I discovered that the joy of a fancy family vacation at an exotic location could be very quickly nullified by aggravation and frustration over the hesitation to pay $15 for a $2 toy at an amusement park or tourist trap. Over time, I decided that it was worth more to enjoy the whole vacation experience than to try in vain to save a few dollars on an overpriced souvenir and sour the mood for the rest of the trip. After all, I reasoned, a few extra bucks was a small price to pay to get the most out of the thousands of dollars we had already spent.
If you have been following my work for any significant amount of time, you know that I am not one to dwell on the negative behavior of others. My focus is on introspection and building resilience and developing transformative insight in the face of adversity. I believe in taking responsibility for not only my own actions, but also for my responses to other people’s actions. As a leader, no matter where you are on the organizational chart, you always benefit from declaring yourself “The One” and being pro-active rather than reacting to other circumstances or people. This is especially true for those of us who have to deal with toxic bosses.