“Not enough time,” “Not enough support from others,” and “Lack of ideas” topped the list for my survey question: “What is in your way of a more satisfying career?” It would have been great if somehow these external factors of time and support were resolved so you and I could flourish. But alas, as the Greek philosopher Epictetus said, “We cannot (always) choose our external circumstances…”.
In algebra, we learned that we need to work on the variable part if something is constant. Epictetus added, “…but we can always choose how we respond to them.” Our choice to respond is the variable part! You may wonder what makes Epictetus the authority who lived 2000 years ago. He had no clue what you are I are dealing with – the insensitive boss, the rude co-worker, the workplace politics, and not to mention the pandemic and the tough job market. Let’s look into an example from someone we can relate to.
Tom, a senior technical director in Silicon Valley, was denied a promotion last year. He blamed some of his peers whose negative feedback cost him the promotion. So when he came to me, I empathized with him and let him process it first. And then I asked, “What motivates you intrinsically about your work”? “What lights up your heart”? It took him a few iterations, and he started speaking from his passion. He talked about leading a team of talented individuals, helping them grow, and solving deep technical challenges for their clients. His whole demeanor became more grounded and energized. Through this exercise, he reconnected with his essence and core values. It led to designing intentional behavior and actions that would honor his essence every day. He and I also devised a mindfulness practice he followed twice a day and sometimes before critical meetings. As a result, his approach shifted from reactive to creative, from fighting defensively to collaborating openly. He started seeing his team more positively and felt much calmer in his interactions.
Eventually, others noticed his change; his manager saw the impact on the results. Finally, promotion and recognition followed. All these happened within 6-7 months.
Tom shifted the outcome by choosing a positive mindset connected with his essence and core values.
Recently I asked the same question, “What is in your way” to a room full of hard-core engineers and tech professionals. A young woman raised her hand. In a soft but deliberate voice, she uttered, “I am; I am in my way. My limiting perspective is blocking me from a more satisfying career.” I could tell she was ready for a more fulfilling journey ahead.
The featured Image is by Dennis Larsen from Pixabay