It happens to the best of us. From time to time, we feel stuck and our strength to move forward depends on the level of clarity we have about the causes and potential effects of our current circumstances. That clarity doesn’t always come, and so we aren’t always sure what to do next. Dwelling on potential causes of the setbacks we experience generates regret about our own actions and/or resentment toward others. Letting our imagination get the best of us relative to all the bad things that are going to possibly happen creates worry and fear. And trying to let the past go or trying not to worry, although well-intentioned, do not carry the day unless we find a way to gain clarity and look at our current circumstances through an objective lens.
I believe we all have a “superpower.” Another way to put it might be that we all have one or two unique gifts or exceptional strengths, something that we excel at with little practice or effort on our part. Our superpower is that character trait or innate ability that comes natural to us and makes us a stronger achiever and contributor because we seem to have an inherent knack for it. I also believe that any strength taken to the extreme that becomes a weakness, and so we must learn to use our superpowers with discretion.
I remember interviewing someone for a key leadership position at my operation in Thailand, and halfway through the conversation, as he was telling me about his qualifications, he announced, with much pride, that he was an alcoholic and had a lot of passion for what he did. Startled at this revelation and puzzled as to why he would so freely divulge this information and wear it as a badge of honor, I circled back to the comment and asked him to elaborate a little. He went on to mention a few more times that he had been an alcoholic for as long as he could remember and that his job always came first. Upon further questioning, the poor fellow realized that he had been saying “alcoholic” when he meant to be saying “workaholic!”
There is overwhelming data that consistently shows 80% of employees are not engaged in their work, and their lack of satisfaction and enthusiasm about the work they do impacts not only their productivity, but just as importantly, their health and well-being and the quality of their relationships. Sadly, I know from my experience over the decades, having worked with thousands of people across four continents, most have accepted this monumental epidemic as the “way it’s always going to be.” They have come to believe that work is not supposed to be fun and it is normal to be stressed out and unmotivated. This is why Fridays are so celebrated while Mondays are loathed. As a society, we have simply accepted that work will always be a burden and there is nothing any of us can do to change that.
It occurred to me this week, as I was doing the final preparations for a client visit, that most of what I speak on and write about has to do with what is commonly referred to as “change management,” yet I hardly ever use that phrase. I think the reason for this is two-fold. First of all, I have no desire to jump on some bandwagon and be lumped together with all the “Change Management Experts” out there, who may or may not have ever personally led any kind of transformation at all, and secondly, I believe the term “change management” perpetuates an entirely false connotation. I believe the greatest issue with change management has to do with failure to recognize that “change” is rarely the problem, and “management” is rarely the solution!