Human potential is the same for all. Your feeling, “I am of no value”, is wrong. Absolutely wrong. You are deceiving yourself. We all have the power of thought – so what are you lacking? If you have willpower, then you can change anything. It is usually said that you are your own master. ~His Holiness The Dalai Lama
I was huddled over my desktop frantically emailing project updates before I had to leave to pick up my 4 month old.
My customer Rob walked up to my cube and spoke with disgust apparent in his voice. “What the f**k was that report you just sent me? All of you analysts are stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Do you have to be told every single thing? God, you almost ruined the whole f***ing project!”
I stood paralyzed unable to respond. I wished I could make a facetious retort. “Ha ha, I am sure you didn’t mean that, did you? Isn’t this what you do, toss curse words around threatening Doomsday to make it sound like what we are doing is rocket science or brain surgery? While in fact all we do is screw people over by getting them into more debt through yet another brilliant customer-centric strategy?”
Whether it was the utter exhaustion of being a new parent or whether I truly believed I had done something wrong, I don’t know. I just stood there stupefied.
I am sure Rob had valid concerns on his mind. But instead of voicing those concerns, he treated me like I was paid labor.
Instead of initiating a dialogue to clarify requirements, he persisted in unproductive name calling.
Over the next several weeks, nothing I said or did made a difference. He simply refused to VALUE me as a human being let alone as a partner.
It is still hard for me to fathom how someone can invalidate your existence… reduce your value to NOTHING in an instance. What kind of fear pushes a person towards mistreating another? Fear of a project running late, fear of a superior yelling at them?
“I expected something of you, what you delivered is not what I expected. Ergo, you are worthless! Why aren’t you at my beck and call? Don’t we pay your salary? I own your time, so I own you! OMG, she is going to f**k up my bonus.”
He didn’t quite say those words. But his actions spoke loud and clear.
Even though I was crushed by working with this customer, I had enough self confidence to not base my worth on that feedback alone. I was lucky enough to have managers and mentors who recognized my strengths and applauded my creativity. I was smart enough to gravitate away from that type of work into more fulfilling and meaningful work.
But not everyone is that lucky. Every day that I read a blog or pick up a book, I come across similar stories.
We must face it, the framework that runs many Fortune 500 companies is deeply flawed. Corporate America assumes that employees are not partners but pawns. Pieces that need to be prodded across the board to win their strategy games.
It is not surprising because many of these Corporate practices are based on Scientific Management principles formulated in the 19th century (by Frederick Winslow Taylor).
“Work consists mainly of simple, not particularly interesting, tasks. The only way to get people to do them is to incentivize them properly and monitor them carefully.” (Seriously?)
“It is only through enforced standardization of methods, enforced adoption of the best implements and working conditions, and enforced cooperation that this faster work can be assured. And the duty of enforcing the adoption of standards and enforcing this cooperation rests with management alone.” (Puh…lease!)
The problem with this philosophy is not just that it is outdated, but also that it doesn’t apply to the kind of knowledge work that most of us do today.
Whether you are building decisioning engines (like I used to), managing software teams or designing applications, the work that you do is NOT ROUTINE.
It is analytical, artistic, and creative. It requires empathy, connectedness and a capacity for broader vision.
And it is seldom run of the mill. It can’t be easily duplicated. Even though you may have the same skills as your peers, what you do is inherently different because of the value that you bring to it.
Work is not a chore. Work can be deeply satisfying. It can be the best part of your life. If you haven’t yet come across work that lights you up then something is awry, my friend.
Shouldn’t employees who perform such delicately nuanced work be given greater autonomy? Shouldn’t they be treated with respect rather than condescension? Shouldn’t they be considered partners rather than “resources”?
Yes, the corporate motivation system is broken. Yet we continue to rely exclusively on this framework to DEFINE OUR VALUE within society.
We wait around for others to dole out our daily ration of self worth.
If you are looking for your company to empower you, you will be waiting forever. True empowerment is not to be found in the empty words in your HR booklet but in the RESPECT and SUPPORT your team members, your managers and your customers SHOW you everyday.
You deserve autonomy. You deserve unconditional support. You deserve compassion and kindness. Above all you deserve to be treated with RESPECT. Every human being does.
If you are not receiving it, then its time you stood up for yourself. Hold your coworkers, your managers and your customers to higher expectations. Assert yourself and pave the way for greater control over your whom you work with, when and how. That’s the only way you will be able to do great work that is valuable and meaningful.
This is just one of the reasons, I am passionate about becoming a coach. As a manager I could only parrot the corporate mission… but as a creative coach I comprehend what motivates you; I can help you break through barriers to achieve your dreams. I can use creative techniques to unleash your hidden potential.
Know this to be the ABSOLUTE TRUTH, no matter who you are, and what you do, no one, I repeat no one can take away your intrinsic value. Your value is not determined by your looks, your strength, your income or your title. Your value is beyond measure.
Even when you face hardships in your career or life, your value does not diminish. Instead those very challenges serve to make you more resilient, augmenting your value in the long run.
The only way to know your self worth is to continuously explore, read and converse with others. Don’t just read about how to improve your skills, learn how to improve your situation so that you can put those same skills to better use.
Get a mentor. Get a coach. Don’t take others assessments at face value. Given the chance they might not even assign you any!
We know that human beings are not merely smaller, slower, better-smelling horses galloping after that day’s carrot. We know – if we spend time with young children or remember ourselves at our best – that we’re not destined to be passive and compliant. We’re designed to be active and engaged. And we know that the richest experiences in our lives aren’t when we’re clamoring for validation from others, but when we’re listening to our own voice – doing something that matters, doing it well, and doing it in the service of a cause larger than ourselves. ~ Daniel Pink
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