Have you ever felt you had to be a different person? At work, with friends, as a daughter, in the community, at church? People have certain expectations and perceptions of who we are and who they want us to be depending on the role we’re playing or what roof we’re under. I came to a place where I was so good at operating under those pressures and expectations of who I should be, that I had no idea who I really was. One day, my world changed so drastically that I had nothing to anchor to and in order to survive. I realized my attempt to control and protect was making me weak. I had to stop looking for answers out in the world and start looking for them inside. Eventually, I would realize that the complete surrender of my way of living was the only way to become resilient and to find peace.
I had so many misperceptions of who I was, and so many fears and limiting beliefs about who I could be…and for all these years I had no idea. I did some hard and intense work to strip away all those layers and face my fears to find out who I really was. I was surprised by how strong, adaptable, and caring I was, because the Lindsay I knew was scared, resistant, and angry. With this new foundation, I have experienced life more fully. I have been more confident, inspired, and resilient then I ever could have dreamed. Life is still hard, but there is a constant inner joy and peace that doesn’t quit.
Through it all I realized that the most difficult place for me to be me, and where I struggled the most to be myself, was in the workplace. Inside corporate constructs I’ve been asked to do things or be someone counter to who I am or what I believe. For example, many places of work are so focused on productivity and activity that when the quality of those things go down they don’t even notice. People are going through the motions and checking boxes, but measurable outcomes and impactful change are completely lost. More is not better when the more is not relevant.
I’ve watched people “fall in line” and go along with decisions and demands even when they know they aren’t right. We are too tired or too afraid of the repercussions of speaking up. Waste and corruption creep in. It is exhausting, and appears to leave many feeling hopeless. It seems, these constructs started back in elementary school and followed us into our professional lives. At times it feels like the confines and constructs are killing all creativity, curiosity, hope, and our ability to adapt.
I’ve been listening and studying. Listening to what employers really want and studying our organizational and educational structures. The dissonance between the traditional corporate and educational constructs and the types of students/workers/humans we want to have and develop is real. For instance, I hear and see the following sentiments on a regular basis:
- We want people who are curious and self-motivated, yet we tell them exactly what they need to do and how they need to do it in order to be rewarded.
- We want people who are courageous and creative, yet when they challenge the status quo or bring new ideas they are shut down or even shunned.
- We want honesty and adaptability but our leaders are defensive and unwilling to listen or change.
- We want diversity yet we haven’t figured out how to include and care for people most like us.
Foundational elements of how we live and how we work are changing, and it appears we are struggling to navigate that change and evolve. For me, I had to go all the way back to the basics to regain a sense of intention, inspiration, and resilience. Who am I? What do I care about? Believe in? Value? Hold true? How do I want to live? Make others feel? Spend my time?
Figuring this out is hard. It will require consistent focus, discipline, and the exploration of tough questions and difficult concepts. Instead of a sole focus on what we do, we need to evaluate how we do things. Because of the pace of change, it will be a never-ending battle and we need to start now.
Last night we watched the Netflix documentary American Factory. They shared a statistic that by 2030 as many as 375 million jobs could be automated. Whoa. Are we prepared for that? How are we helping people adapt and excel through that change? From what I can see, most companies and schools have been slow to evolve their learning and development methods and their culture to equip and empower individuals for that change.
If we continue to operate under these old rules, we will see more and more burnout and mental illness. Disruption and the rate of change are at an all time high. Gone are the days you could do the same thing the same way for 30 years. We need people who can think differently, adapt quickly, and remain resilient and centered as life gets increasingly chaotic and overwhelming.
I am going all in to help organizations and schools figure this out. We need to take a hard look at the way we live, the way we work, and the way we spend our time. It will require change. Simplification. Doing less and thinking more. Developing our character at the same rate we develop our skills. How do we support the development of characteristics like: honesty, openness, adaptability, resilience, creativity, curiosity, courage?
Many of us have lost our sense of self. Many of our organizations have lost our culture and sense of purpose. We have to anchor back to center to confidently navigate change. Until you understand who you are, you will not know what you are capable of.
I’m excited to announce more details about this work soon! If you are interested in exploring these concepts, get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.