A recent blog post by Mitch Joel, author of the excellent book Six Pixels of Separation and a keen observer of social trends in business, touches on an issue that has a lot in common with Up Your Impact. Namely, who is responsible for your career? Turns out it’s not your boss, your company’s culture or those jerks in your department who you’re forced to work with.
If you’re unhappy or unfulfilled in your job, it’s you.
“As a business owner, I’ve seen people be unhappy. It’s never pleasant. Odds are that you know several people – right at this exact moment in time – that are struggling with their work. They’re not fulfilled, they’re not happy and they’re simply not achieving. Who is to blame? This is the tough part, but it’s the cold hard truth: the business will rarely change to align with your value-system. If you feel like you’re not able to accomplish something because of your teammates, your supervisor, the boss, the clients or whatever, guess what? It’s not them… it’s you.”
According to Joel, if you want things to be better, you need to work on yourself.
As I explain in Up Your Impact, you need to change your mindset, your attitude toward contribution and compensation, and your focus from doing what you’re told to becoming a problem solver, a creative force in your department. In Joel’s mind, we all deserve to thrive in our jobs. If we’re not thriving, then something’s wrong:
“Are you thriving? What will it take for you to thrive? These are core questions that will shift the focus from the work and the supervisors to you… and only you. Personally, the minute my professional career and trajectory changed and become that much more positive (in all aspects of it) was when I shifted my mindset from it being about the work and my bosses, to me and my personal responsibility – instead of whining about my lot in life.”
Reducing the “drag” on your life
Joel implies that the whining, complaining and worrying created a lot of “drag” in his life, in much the same way that flaps or air brakes jut out into the airstream, cause turbulence to slow down an aircraft. Examples of drag at work may include corrosive coworkers, negative talk around the water cooler and seemingly arbitrary management and leadership decisions that leave us wondering, “What the hell were they thinking?”
It’s easy to blame other people, circumstances and decisions for our woes, to play Monday morning quarterback, analyzing and criticizing the company and its many challenges. This type of “drag” in the workplace leaves you with little energy to contribute, solve and create. And that leaves you at risk of becoming redundant, expendable, replaceable.
Where should you start?
The alternative, which I explore in Up Your Impact, is to make a commitment to be of service to others, to create new value, to suggest new solutions and be a “go-giver” rather than helping your coworkers to suck the energy out of the workplace. Whether you’re in a leadership position or not, you CAN be a positive force for change with your coworkers, customers and clients.
Ironically, when you make the decision to be remarkable and contribute at a higher level, the “drag” in your lift is greatly reduced or eliminated. This enables you to “soar,” to invest greater passion and energy in doing your work in an exceptional way, at a level you never before thought was possible.
That’s assuming, of course, that the culture in which you work supports your change in mindset. If it doesn’t, Joel concludes that it’s time to make a change:
“People often take work for the wrong reasons (a lot of it has to do a self-perceived desperation): more money, trying to pad a resume, a feeling like they have no other options, etc… It’s very hard (and intense) work to figure out what you really want to get out of life. Sadly, most people think that a job’s main raison d’être is to keep them out of poverty, and that becomes the main focal point: survival. I’ve seen people perform very poorly in one environment, change jobs and work for a similar company (in a similar position) and they thrive like never before.”
So what about you? Are you thriving? If not, why not? What would you need to change to enable you to thrive? Life is short. You deserve nothing less. You have unique gifts to share with the world. It’s time to make an impact, no matter what kind of work you do!