It’s Not You – It’s me

When we don’t feel comfortable in a working environment we usually blame the environment. 

And in many cases, we have reasons to do so. 

So many people are going through very difficult situations: from unequal treatment or a minor misbehaviour of superiors or colleagues, to tough cases of mobbing and harassment. 

Sometimes it’s not about one individual event or situation, but about leadership culture and environment that has been growing in a certain company for years or decades.

During the times when I thought that my task is to change the world (or at least the part of the world where I live) my impulse was to fight against behaviors and culture that I do not support. 

For example, I was very much annoyed by people who were not investing themselves into the work they  did. The type of people who are doing their jobs only to a level of being OK. Average. Just below 100%. 

I was also frustrated by people who had low capabilities, but they compensated this with high ambition and they managed to succeed mostly due to the absence of home education. Because, being rude and ambitious is the winning combination in the corporate world. If your parents did a good job rising you, you have at least 20% of disadvantage in reaching the top of the corporate mountain. 

I always had a need, almost compulsion, to bring everything to the surface and to give it a proper name. You know those situations, when you’re doing something ridiculous fully aware that what you’re doing is total bullshit. But for some reason (usually the order from higher levels) we all participate. And everyone is pretending it is really important. I was ready to work, but I  always insisted to call what we were doing  the right name. Being fully aware that this would not change anything. Maybe it would just bring the same level of discomfort to other people who are not of the same character as I am. Simply, there are people who prefer to pretend. The truth  makes them nervous. 

But after a number of years and with some time distance from the events that were bothering me, I clearly see: it’s not about them – it’s about me. 

It’s not that those other people were wrong or that the company culture was wrong – I was. 

And while, when it comes to personal and romantic relationships, this sentence is usually used as an excuse said by the people who are not willing or capable to invest themselves into a certain romantic relationship, I would like to argue that in a business environment it can be a huge time and energy saver. 

Because work is an important part of your life, but it’s not your emotional partner!

Relationship between two people is (in most  cases) a relationship of two equal individuals. 

Relationship between an individual and a corporation is not. 

So, why bother? Just change it. 

And why don’t we change?

Well, I believe the  no. 1 reason is vanity. We don’t want to admit that we are not capable to change something into the direction that we believe is the right one.

No.2 – we see people similar to us working well in that kind of environment. This is tricky. Those people might share many of our values, so we start thinking: if he/she can manage, I should be able to deal with this as well. I’m not a sissy. This is very dangerous, because although we can share a lot of values and attitudes with some colleagues, we are also very different individuals with different triggers and touch points. 

No.3 – every change is tough. I had many posts about this topic. ( for example – Letting Go: Killing Your Vertical Ambition). Usually, we need a strong push to start the change. That’s why sometimes people are hoping to get fired in order to move and avoid quitting. 

I would like to underline once again the importance of good recruitment. If you are selecting people make sure that they fit to culture as well. Not just to job requirements (my favorite and most stupid one from job ads is: goal oriented). But, also if you are a candidate, don’t ask only about the salary and the benefits. Of course, there are many things you are not able to see before you start working somewhere. But, if you ask a couple of good questions during the interview, you can learn a lot. In the end, if you make a mistake – which must happen to everyone during their career – don’t wait too long to say: It’s not you – it’s me. And leave!


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