Career Conundrums

Career Conundrums

You’ve heard it said, “I just couldn’t get out of my own way.” There are times in our careers when we find ourselves stuck and stumbling we don’t know why. The conundrum of relationships, skills and know how collides in our careers daily. The secret to being agile and staying on top of our success is sincerely within the beliefs in our minds.

As a manager once upon a time, I had the fun of leading a big project and having responsibility for several new hires. I loved the work and the team, but the project was challenging. The more we chipped at it, the bigger the chunks which fell off. But, they weren’t what we needed. In retrospect, we needed new base material to carve upon. As we failed to reach milestones, I began to panic. I thought I believed in my team, and in the nature of the project. I thought I believed in myself too and took seriously my responsibility as a manager. Over time as we continued to fall short of the target, I began to take back responsibilities which had been appropriately delegated.  Eventually, I was the controlling manager I never wanted to be. Why? Because there was trashy noise in my head that the seeming failure was somehow my doing and only I could fix it. I was stumbling and didn’t recognize it.

However as I came to learn, the real fix was to let loose of the reins. I finally was frustrated enough and overwhelmed enough to throw up my hands and invite the creative process to take over, I invited the team to not only take back their responsibilities, but to seek additional channels in which to search for the raw materials.  In human resources terms, that meant finding other ponds in which to fish for fresh talent for our clients.  We then had superb success, but I had to confront and shift my belief in what I should be managing.

I had to get out of my own way. I had to realize that internal belief about my role in the process and the tight hold I had; my need to white knuckle, hyper-manage was contributing to our failure. I had an ill-defined sense of responsibility – I assumed it had to be me and mistakenly for a while – only me. But, applying my talents alone wasn’t going to get it done. This success was predicated on applying the talents of many. Subsequently ‘allowing’ the team to resume efforts using best practices returned the results we were seeking. So why was my assuming responsibility an example of flawed thinking? I held some beliefs which didn’t serve me or the team.  I believed that my responsibility for the project meant that I personally needed to be more hands-on which my schedule didn’t permit, which put us even more behind. What I really needed was to pull my hands out of the work and to allow the team’s magical conundrum of relationships, experience, skills and know how to feed the creative process.  That was the secret to success in that project and as I’ve come to learn in most all projects.

Beliefs are powerful. Especially, when they subconsciously direct us, we may find ourselves stumbling without knowing why. I believe the solution is clarity and that requires constant diligence.  Just like washing the front window of our car to keep it clear and free of ‘stuff’, we need to constantly be exploring our beliefs and seeking clarity about the motivation for our actions. So, if you find yourself stumbling and unable to get out of your own way……don’t hesitate to let go and invite a clearer thought to replace an old belief.


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