You know that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach before your first day back at work after the weekend. Maybe it starts to creep in on Sunday, sometimes in the afternoon, maybe in the evening as you prepare for the week ahead, or maybe it is Monday morning when the alarm goes off and you think that the time has almost come. You know that feeling? Did you have it recently? Have you asked yourself why?
Recently I was working on a project for an organisation and I started to notice pretty quickly that it was kind of dysfunctional. Most people had resigned to the fact that this was just the way it was, others were acting out and protecting themselves or their jobs at the cost of collaboration and the team. Most were unknowingly sabotaging even the people that worked with them not to mention anyone else that got in their way.
So why? Why do people operate like this at work? What is it that drives them to make choices that may compromise their own intrinsic values and what motivates and perpetuates this behaviour on a daily basis, making it almost too difficult to stop?
It's fear. We are all driven by fear to some degree. It is sometimes healthy and can make us step outside our comfort zone. Other times it can become toxic making us lash out out those who dare to get the closest. Fear is a horrible place to constantly operate from though. The fear of making a mistake stifles innovation and creativity. The fear of being wrong makes us keep quiet and not speak up even when we feel strongly about something we see happening. The fear of losing our jobs or being exposed in a job that might not actually be a good fit for us, makes us work against people even when they might be part of the same team or striving to achieve the same goals.
So how do we move from fear to courage? What can you do if you see yourself slipping in to the trap of acting and behaving like everyone around you?
1. You have to know yourself
Who are you? What drives you? What are your values. If you spend some time trying to understand yourself you will be better placed to make decisions tat are aligned to your core values and you will naturally tend to behave in a way that is aligned.
2. Find out what are you afraid of?
Dig deep. Really ask yourself what it is that you are afraid of. Losing your job? Being called out for being a fraud or not being good enough? Making a mistake? And then ask yourself why this fuels your fear so much. What are the worst things that could happen if these fears were to be realised? Ask yourself over and over again until you can't make a sensible reply without it sounding a bit silly.
3. Know how you want to show up in the world
Ask yourself who you want to be and how you want people to remember you and then do an gap assessment. Ask for some feedback if need be but usually you will have the answers already. Work out what's missing between the ideal you and the current you and make a list of all the things you could start doing or stop doing immediately to move closer to the ideal. It won't all be achievable in one hit but set yourself some goals, set some reminders or put some practices in place to change the behaviour and thought patterns.
4. Call the behaviour you see around you
If it is not working, call it. Ask your friends, family or colleagues if they can see the same as you and then work together to change it. Ask for people to hold you accountable and admit that you will make mistakes along the way. Take power from your vulnerability and know that it is ok to make mistakes, get it wrong and try again harder next time.