So, like you, I’ve been there before—frustrated, anxious, disappointed. Thankfully, I’ve spent plenty of time on the other side of those feelings, too. The normal ups and downs as an employee, boss, and consultant.
Yet it was a series of professional events in 2013 that surprised and overwhelmed me. I was confident and accomplished … and only after a tumultuous six months realized I was wholly unprepared for the job.
It was hard. Really hard. There was a time I felt pretty sorry for myself. That confidence I had? Nearly none of it was left. I trudged my way through it: implemented a few projects, failed to implement a few more, and saw the rest languish in a state somewhere between the two. You can read about it here. And if you’re going through anything similar, I created this especially for you.
Well, the other side of that spectrum is pretty obvious, and it’s where I found myself a year later thanks to some great people. It was a terrific job, I felt supported, and the project success rate was immensely greater.
Why—and this is the big question—did the same person flail so miserably in one setting yet contribute to out-sized success in another?
It gets you wondering, doesn’t it? It got me wondering! And since then I’ve been on a mission—as part of my day-to-day work and even in my leisure time—to understand the answers to the question: Why is it so difficult to make a meaningful contribution toward making change happen when change is what everyone is working toward?
I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of reflecting on my successes (plenty!), failures (plenty!), frustrations (many!), and challenges (even more…) and the thing of it is is that while my individual performance almost always had an effect on an outcome, the influence of the system around me was nearly always greater.
That’s what I’ve learned. It’s what the academic literature tells us, too.
We have the ability to influence outcomes and the responsibility to get better at what we do. We’re also operating inside complex systems and to be successful in that environment requires we think differently so that we can see differently and ultimately do differently.
I’ve talked with friends, colleagues, mentees, and administrators and they share similar stories. While emotions triggered my initial curiosity, it’s the cognitive effort in doing something about it that has led to Through the Work and the services I offer. Everything here centers on the question: “Why is work the way work is and how can we make it better?”
This is no hero’s journey, to be sure. For every lesson I’ve learned and applied from previous experience I’ve had to learn some more and apply again all in an effort to figure it out as I’ve gone along. That’s how we make our way through complexity. It’s how I help you make your way, too.