And that’s dangerous! It’s dangerous for you, for your career and for your employer. And it can even go beyond that!
Jokes aside, we all know that while we are closely focused on our work and our career, we spend most of our time in a problem-solving mode and we don’t bother thinking too much about other things. We don’t quote eastern Zen philosophers and tech gurus, and we don’t challenge ourselves to the very end of our own nerves.
Every time that I had stopped working for a while I ended up in trouble. But the trouble is that after a few years if I don’t stop – I’m in trouble as well.
Let’s discuss first trouble first.
While I was pushing for my career and the success of my business, I was satisfied, for the most part. Everything was good, I was recognized, business was more or less successful. And I had ideas, plans, aspirations… But, when something is wrong from the very beginning and you know it – then it’s wrong 3 or 4 years later, as well. When I switched jobs at one point and instead of managing 70 people I started being more of a consultant with more free time for thinking (both jobs in the same company) I immediately started questioning many fundamental things that were bothering me before as well, but they were never a priority. Because there was always a job to be done, there was always a person to be taken care of, there was always a meeting to attend… But then suddenly say out loud the biggest part of what I was thinking about. Have ideas but keep them to myself. It was a strange position when someone is paying you to, actually, not do your job. Sounds perfect in a way? I even got a promotion. Twice. But not as perfect for strange characters like myself.
So what was the outcome of my free time that I had for thinking:
- I wrote my first theatre play after almost 15 years. It will be staged in two months in a professional theatre.
- I realized that I simply can’t pretend I’m working. I need to make an impact and have a purpose.
- I quit my job.
While number 1 and number 3 are among the best things that I ever did in my life, number 2 is highly complex and dangerous.
Making an impact and having a purpose in the corporate world is a very hard thing to achieve. Of course you can get money, recognition and position. But if we are talking about a real impact – chances are very slim. Simply put, corporations are created to kill everyone who wants to make real impact. It’s like when the human body wants to push all foreign objects out. You need to take medications after they had transplanted an organ into you. You have to take them forever.
So I had to adjust my expectations and redefine the words impact and purpose which is a demanding process. Takes a lot of energy and emotion. Sometimes I feel like a deflated balloon or a sad clown.
Cut. Scene from another episode: I’m meeting by accident on the street a colleague from the job I quit, mentioned in point 3 of this article. He is saying to me: Wow, you are glowing! At that particular moment I was quite close to system shut down. That’s how exhausted I was. But his impression was that I was glowing. Amazing! And I’m not good at pretending.
So let’s move to the other trouble.
What if you don’t stop on time? Where are your limits?
Well obviously with the precondition that you are clear on definitions of impact and purpose limits can be quite high. You think you are at your wits end, but someone tells you that you look better than ever. You feel like you could sit and cry in a corner but then you give the best presentation ever in front of 300 people.
And just when I thought that I have defined my impact and purpose in the right way I was about to go to a business dinner in a fancy restaurant driving my fancy car. With fantastic people that I really like a lot. On the streets of my hometown many young people were starting protests trying to find their purpose and to make their impact. I had such a strong wish to join them. But I went to that business dinner. And I still feel sick about it.
Cheers to another round of redefining! The only drink that goes with this post is whiskey with Perier. After that, take one more whiskey with a beer.