Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Be Your Own Hero - Nilofer Merchant

I am totally busted. At least that's the way I felt when I read Nilofer Merchant's blog entitled "Be Your Own Hero". In it she recommends that we define success according to our own terms. She makes the following statements to illustrate ways in which we define our own success.
  • I shall not obsess over others' success: not copying, idolizing, or mindlessly emulating.
  • I shall know my purpose and know why I'm doing something.
  • I shall ally myself to a tribe with a common purpose, though the tribe's members may work in vastly different fields and forms.
  • I will make ideas stronger by uniting with others to do great work, not by holding my ideas all to myself but releasing them into the wild.
  • I recognize the truth in the credo that the future is not created, the future is co-created and will do my part as a part of the whole.
I was completely convicted that once again I've lost track of my own goals and ideas of success in pursuit of something I thought I wanted because others said I should. Again. Dammit. If there's any doubt just read the post immediately prior to this one, "Here's Your Sign". What are my REAL goals? What do I really want?

Well, my real goals don't have a lot to do with my job and do have a lot to do with my life.

In my life my purpose is...
  • to feel healthy 
  • to be my husband's help-meet, his partner at his shoulder supporting and encouraging him as I value his creativity much higher than my own (and I like it that way) 
  • to be known as a Christian without repelling people by my church-y-ness 
  • to live in the moment and not ruin it with excessive consideration for tomorrow or yesterday experiencing the good and the bad and acknowledging the emotions of life
In my career my purpose is...
  • to serve my employer honorably bringing energy, ideas and a desire for excellence to every project
  • to respect the leadership and membership that I serve, striving to understand their needs and motives so that I can produce better products and services ultimately benefiting the industry I serve
  • to serve my staff, respecting their commitment and hard work, helping them develop new skills and advocating on their behalf to those who cannot know the effort my staff delivers every day
  • to not compromise myself by adding gradations of right and wrong, good and bad
At work very few have the luxury of allying himself to a tribe with a common purpose.  Even when we're all working for the same employer with the same mission statement our purposes seem to differ widely.  It has been so long since I've worked in the for-profit world that I can't remember what I believed my purpose was then.  Now, at work our purpose is pretty clearly stated: We serve our industry.  There is just so much variance in how we go about doing that that the purpose isn't very common.

It is Ms. Merchant's last two statements that I found... discouraging, I guess.  I work alone.  It isn't by choice.  I would love to collaborate with others on projects but our current structure is such that I can (and have) work an entire week without discussing a single project, idea, task or function with anyone other than those who report directly to me.

"I will make ideas stronger by uniting with others to do great work, not by holding my ideas all to myself but releasing them into the wild."

"I recognize the truth in the credo that the future is not created, the future is co-created and will do my part as a part of the whole"

I desire to be a contributing part of the whole but am not -- at least not at work.  No matter how fulfilling the rest of my life is, at work I'm not sharing ideas or collaborating.  I'm merely producing; therefore I think I'm failing.  The question is, what do I intend to do about it?  I like my work and admire the members I serve.

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