With Halloween upon us, I thought this title was appropriate for an issue many of us encounter everyday:
Do you work in a culture where you feel that everyone is there to suck you dry every day? Your inbox is full of emails asking for something. Whether it is a report, or a document, or data, or your leaders asking you to take on double your capacity in work load; it feels like everyone around you is there to suck the life right out of you, and all you can do is survive to the end of the day so you can go home, and try to re-charge enough to take it all again the next day. You spend your time during your commute in to work preparing your defenses, so you can minimize the damage you will encounter throughout the day. This is no way to live. In fact, it's not living at all. That is no culture that anyone wants to be a part of.
What if YOU could change all that? What changes are you willing to make in order to make each day better for yourself? Because here's the shocking realization; in a culture where you feel you're surrounded by vampires, you're also seen by others as a vampire in their lives. You may very well be someone who someone else is mentally preparing themselves for on their way in to work. Others may owe you a report, document, or data, and know you'll be asking them for it. Or, it's the people who report to you. So, you see, you need to start with changing yourself if you want to change your environment, instead of hoping your environment will change for you. You are contributing to a culture that is feeding on itself.
Become a Vampire Slayer
It takes quite a shift in mentality to do this, but you must do this for your own sanity. Stop acting like prey in the office. We live in a world where the weak are the hunted. If you walk through your place of occupation and your body language is screaming "Don't eat me!" Well, you're going to get eaten. You are making yourself a target of opportunity. When you have a poor attitude, and you project that attitude in how you carry yourself, and the tone of your voice, and the words you choose you are feeding the very mentality you are trying to protect yourself from.
We all have walked into a DMV and have experienced that person behind the desk who is rude and is always having a bad day, and feels they have been given the power of God to make lives miserable. Have you ever tried to be truly polite to that person and witness their entire demeanor shift? I have, and I do it all the time. The key is to never stop being polite, even if they are determined to remain rude. You will break their shield down. This goes for your place of work as well. The attitude you bring to the office will be the attitude you receive at the office. You are manifesting your working environment during that commute in. Instead of manifesting a negative environment from negative thinking, have the discipline to think and imagine the positives, and manifest them in your day. The tough part of doing this is not the actual imagining; it’s the sticking with it when you encounter the negative that is always tough. You cannot surrender this mentality at the first encounter of negativity, you must battle through it.
Mother Teresa’s poem, “Do It Anyway” is what I refer to when I speak to people about having the right attitude. If you have never read this poem, I highly suggest it.
Storm the Castle
Once you have decided to bring a positive attitude to the table, and you’ve harnessed the discipline to maintain that attitude through opposition, now it’s time to step it up. Change is leadership and leaders challenge the status quo by creating change. I love doing this. I love shocking the system, and I love the reactions I receive, and they’re not always positive, but I “Do It Anyway.”
Challenge the processes and the procedures, especially if they are unwritten, and more of the “we’ve always done it that way” mentality. At the very least, challenging processes and procedures is an offensive mind-set vs. always being on the defensive from accepting the status quo. Ironically, challenging the status quo can often times be a return to the basics of following the original processes and procedures that have long since been abandoned. Far too often, we see processes and procedures sacrificed in an attempt to "Just Get Things Done." Have the courage to dial in on the basics, and hold those around you accountable to the same.
Bring solutions to the table; identify people who support what you are trying to do, negotiate for wiggle room in order to test a solution, and my favorite: ask for forgiveness instead of permission. One of the greatest traits of any leader is courage. You must possess the courage to trust yourself, trust your intuition, and have the courage to commit to a solution you have placed into motion. Have the courage to rock the boat. Above all, have the courage to make mistakes, learn from them, and move forward. From a place of ethics, morals, and a dedication to your employer and your fellow co-workers, inflict your will to make things better for yourself and those around you.
Escape From Transylvania
In John Maxwell’s “15 Invaluable Laws of Growth” there is the “Law of the Environment.” If you are not in an environment that is conducive to your growth, and if all your efforts to try to make changes in that environment fall short, you may need to consider finding other environments. Knowing your own limitations, strengths and weaknesses are key leadership principles. There are some organizational cultures that are too ingrained for you to change them, or thrive in. The culture has long since hired far too many “vampires” for you to create an impact. When that is a reality, the best thing is to take inventory of the type of culture you would thrive and grow in, and seek organizations that fit those criteria. Or, better yet, start your own organization. Many entrepreneurs have started their own businesses out of desire to create their own cultures. To remain in an environment that is sucking the life out of you is not healthy. It inflicts damage on your mental and physical health. If your take it home with you, it damages your family health as well. Have the awareness and the courage to find alternatives that allow you to live well.
Time is the most precious currency we have on this earth. Don’t waste it.
Agoge Leadership Development, LLC
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