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Taking the steps you can

You are working for an organisation, but your boss doesn’t give you the space to do what you think is good for the business. E.g. you’re not to pursue other avenues that you think might lead to more business, or you are not encouraged to talk to colleagues in other departments in order to improve things together. 'Do as you are told and what you were hired to do.' How can you be a fearless monkey in such an environment?

Imagine you are holding a pen in your fist. When you open your hand the pen falls on the ground. Why? Obviously because of gravity. That is the answer I gave and most other people give. Is that all? No, it is not the only reason the pen falls. The other reason is that for the pen to fall you had to open your hand. This might sound trivial, but it is crucial. To try and resist gravity is pointless and a waste of energy. If you don’t want the pen to fall, holding on to it is the right strategy.

You surely understand why I give this example. In your own environment, don’t waste your time fighting ‘gravity’, occupy yourself with the things you can change.

From the outside an obvious fearless solution seems to be: just leave your environment. Most of the time that does indeed require courage, but it isn’t necessarily the wisest course of action either. You might end up in a worse place (no job) or you might miss out on a good opportunity to learn which matters belong to the 'gravity category.'

Changing your boss (or your spouse for that matter) might be possible over time, but I’m sure that there are easier steps to take. There are probably many things which you can influence and you should start there. Make sure you do at least what you’re asked to do and do that well before you go further. Maybe you have to do the extra stuff in overtime. Your boss and colleagues will not listen to you if they are not happy with your performance on the required tasks. Once they see that you deliver and see you as an asset, they will start to listen to your ideas for doing things even better. Then be fearless. Start with small suggestions and see how they work out. Nothing is so contagious and convincing as (small) successes.

See it as a game. Know the rules well, so you know how to bend them to your and the organisation’s advantage. Start with the small steps and don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t immediately turn out as you wish.

Although the leaders in the organisation we are talking about above might not always realise it, employees who think for themselves, for the sake of the whole, are the ones who will really make a difference. And, by the way, that attitude will help you in any environment.


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