Some twenty years after his death, as I do work in intercultural and leadership coaching, I understand his life through a different lens. I see now that my father yearned to belong at work. He wanted to be more than just a systems specialist. He wanted more than to just clock in and bring home the check. For all the hours he spent at work, he wanted to be part of the community – sharing, talking, engaging – more than the perfunctory, “how was your weekend” pass-by glance. I look back and realize that my father’s work existence must have been quite lonely.
Over the years as a coach, observing myself and my clients, it’s become clear that passion can be misunderstood. We generally think of passion as overt, provocative, bigger than life. Somehow we believe our passion can consume us if we are not alert. It can lead us to wayward paths. It’s almost irresponsible. Yet I’ve observed passion to be deep, mature and patient.
Life is shared, whether at work or at home. Nothing can be done independently of others or our surroundings. So in this interconnected living, it’s plausible to put responsibilities on others when things get tough. At some point, things always get tough. Sometimes it’s the other person. Sometimes it’s shared. Sometimes it’s really ours to own. Question is, do we discern? Do we take the time to be present with what’s going on so we can process what happened and understand our emotional response to the situation? If you stay present to a situation, you will realize that taking responsibility is always an emotional choice.
My children happened upon the cartoon Cinderella last week. My mother and I were commenting about how darling it was…until the shoe fitting part. You know, the part where Cinderella’s foot glides into the shoe held by the prince. We women, who grew up in the US, have always celebrated Cinderella because she was the one chosen by the prince. We celebrated how she was saved by the “knight in shining armor”. As I watched that ending, I became increasingly perplexed by this concept that so many of us have bought into — the concept that we are worthy if and when we fit into somebody else’s model.
If you choose to become a leader in your life, whether in your internal world or external world, daring to face the struggle of the unknown is the “ticket for entry” for success. Struggle need not be a four-letter-word. Struggle can be respected, even if not welcomed, as you know it is the struggle that will teach you the requisite skills and necessary approaches to be effective in the new landscape.
You are imperfect. I am imperfect. That’s part of being human. There’s something so “old news” about it all. Yet it seems like we are all hiding with terror from this reality of not being perfect…Witnessing and accepting our imperfections isn’t weakness. It’s an act of love. It breeds freedom and acceptance within us. From there, we affect all who are in our circle of life.
So here you are in January, with 12 months ahead of you. Another opportunity for a fresh start. An opportunity to go within and ask, “what do I really want for my life in 2014?” Sure, you can do it anytime. But there is something magical about the beginning of the year to dream, plan …
I was watching the movie, Monsters University, with my kids recently. Through the laughs, I saw some realities for us adult folks. After years of living, each of us has come to own the one, two, or more things that scares the living bijiggers out of us. Like the movie, our minds have created these …
I was in seventh grade, at dinner at my friend’s house. At the table were her parents, my friend and me. It was a low key affair. We were having hamburgers. Across the table were tomatoes that I desperately wanted. My mind urged me to “just ask!”. But my body just wouldn’t respond. I couldn’t open my mouth. With hunger beckoning me on, the twelve year old ate my hamburger without the tomatoes…The only way to adapt to a new set of social etiquette is to do it. Just do it. There is no other way.
The reality for most of the power elite, especially the men who are married with children, is that this scenario is just not experienced by them and thus not understood by them. Thus, they may lack empathy for others who may have to deal with this. Understandably they can thus claim that their employees who are the ones dealing with these “distractions” (mainly women with children) are less focused and less efficient. It’s not explicitly said. It’s never said. It’s just understood by most of us who’s ever been in a corporate setting. But it’s a belief. It’s not a truth.