Easter is on its way and Spring is well and truly here. For many this is a time of great celebration, symbolizing spiritual rebirth.
This makes me think of the mini-cycles of dying and rebirth throughout our careers and lives. The lumpy, unpredictable process of growing up and maturing where we gradually evolve into one of the “someones” we had the potential to be. A bit like unfolding weather systems, perhaps. At the end of each phase or significant event some old attitudes and behaviours die may away and new ones take hold. Whether those we take forward are healthy and good for us (and the people around us) can depend greatly on the choices we make and the influences upon us. Luckily, unlike the weather, the former are within our control. Ever wonder what choices you have – or have not – been making? Choices like what you studied, who you’ve spent time with, what you’ve read, how you’ve treated your body, who you’ve allow to influence you, what jobs you’ve taken. But then into the pot add the unexpected life events that make up our lives. There are so many variables. It’s not surprising that the person we used to think we were (and may never have been anyway) is very likely not to be who we in fact are now, or who we may need to be in times to come. If you follow me!
I sometimes see a mismatch between self-image and what our world needs from us when I work with clients who have been promoted and have not quite expanded their sense of self to fill the mantle they now wear. For example even for senior leaders when they reach Director level it can take time for them to grasp a couple of things that seem paradoxical. They may have far more positional power than ever before, and accordingly their boots may be heavier than they have ever been. Yet they are faced with a) quickly filling their boots with confidence and ease, while b) stepping carefully. Trying to remain “one of the lads or ladettes” can reveal that they don’t yet get that they’e now expected to act with more gravitas, along with detached ease and resilience in the face of potential unpopularity. Playful, sarcastic quips with their “mates” may have been harmless banter in the past, but can now cut like a knife. And remaining too close to the detail of the team’s work can deny their genuine need for the leader to look out and up, keeping them secure and on track. However painful, the leader needs to relinquish what prior need they had for chummy closeness. The successful transition will in fact ripen them as a leader. And, as with all change, it will be less painful if they understand what is in fact needed from them and they embrace, rather than resist, that responsibility.
So – we set ourselves up for making our best contribution if we tune in to what our current and future environment most needs from us. And that may shift unexpectedly, requiring us to shift. Exciting – and scary. But if we are too attached to our old self-image and/or our grasp of the needs around us are “off”, then we and those who depend upon us, could be at risk. Discomfort is surely a relatively small price to pay for the transition we re being invited to make. Of course it is not so simple for some, which is why caring support has huge benefit to offer. Remember the aphorism “If you are not busy being born you are busy dying”? This is not just an issue for work and economics, but also for relationships at work and in life.
So here are just a couple of eggs to crack over the break (much better for you than chocolate, I promise)!
- What space are you in now at this stage of your life? Notice how far you have moved from where you used to be. Acknowledge and celebrate that.
- Now, what place are you working towards that will address what your world is calling for? What might therefore be timely for you let go?
- What might you be resisting? What would it be like if you were to embrace it?