"Environment is stronger than will." The first time I heard that, I didn't know what it meant.
Then I moved to California from the Midwest, spent 13 years giving all of my money to the Bay Area cost of living, and returned home to find myself waiting there, thrilled to be more myself, back in my home environment, and now very much aware of the meaning of that saying.
Its meaning is no different in being applied to traditional business; environment is stronger than will, stronger than creativity, stronger than personal drive. Change the environment, and you court the possibility of infusing your business with the oxygen of vision, inspiration and true cooperation.
The traditional top-down approach to business is parental, stifling, and absolutely what we are accustomed to following. It provides an enormous sense of security and control, which we understandably are drawn to. But there are other things we are drawn to; things like exploration, the unexpected discovery, intuition, meaning, personal development, and a very simple desire to do things differently than our great grandparents did them.
Every time we walk into a new job, a new business, we are filled with anticipation, that sense of newness that tells us that this time it can be different.
Well, what would it take for business, and our place in it, to actually be different? It requires a completely different mode of operation, a completely different environment.
Rather than the top-down look-for-the-problems type of setup, we would embrace modes of operating as teams of cross-"level" employees. We would let go of competition in favor of co-creation because we would set up modes of reward and mutual support instead of reward and punishment. We would create a system that allows the individual to self-define in terms of her strengths and her forward movement, and we would provide the systemic mentorships and checks necessary to help her take steps forward, moving from one group to the next, growing in her usefulness and contribution to the company's efforts as well as to her own personal growth needs.
Without that kind of risk, the roles are limited to the one that behaves, the one that fails, and the superstar. Businesses asking for "new" ideas and true leadership from within this kind of rigid structure will not find it, and will continue to solve for something that doesn't really exist.
What is needed is to break down some walls between levels, and to find the courage, the vision and the understanding necessary to change the roles, and the levels of success. Because the old model is limited, and we are all done with limitation.
For information and strategies related to changing your business environment, contact Lori Kirstein at support@GoodbyeGoodGirl.com.
Performance-Based Self-Expression Coach for Women Leaders
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