Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Finding Success at Work: A Business Coach's Perspective

Finding success at work is like that famous story about the lottery. A person is praying and praying – “Please, please, let me win the lottery! I’ve got four kids, sick parents to take care of and I’m working two jobs. Please!” After many months of this, a voice asks, “You really wanna win the lottery?” “Yes! Please!” “Try buying a ticket.”

Similarly, you can’t find success if you don’t know what it looks like. What is ‘success’ to you? How do you define it? You, not your spouse, your parents, siblings, friends, you. Sure, family and friends have a place in finding success, but your desire and passion, skills, talents and abilities, your style and constitution matter most.

How would success feel, taste and smell? Really get into it. What would you be doing, what would a typical day be like? How busy will you be? Are you working alone most of the time; in a team; supervising others? Will you be blazing trails and facing challenges or keeping things on a smooth and steady path? What kind of clothes are you wearing? What’s your work place like? What kind of customers are you serving? What are your coworkers like?

Objective self awareness, appreciation and analysis are also important because you, as you actually are – vast potential, dreams, skills, talents, warts and all, is what you bring to the job. The better you understand and appreciate what you bring to your work - can and can’t do - the more likely you are to ‘find’ success.

Finding, looking and seeking success – do these words seem a bit passive and hopeful, dreamy and wishy to you? People ‘find’ success in fairy tales. They ‘achieve’ it or ‘build’ it in real life. People take deliberate, strategic actions, based on who they are to achieve successes. No wandering around, trying this and trying that, hoping to ‘find’ success.

In my forty years of experience as a coach, a management development trainer and team building facilitator, the people who achieved success faster and more easily, were the ones who invested the most time in first understanding themselves deeply and fully – spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically, then matched who they were to the possibilities around them. Bottom line, you achieve success from the inside, out.

You can move forward without doing the inner work first, but true, richly rewarding and deeply satisfying success will elude you.
It’s quite normal to have an average career and life without being clear about who you really are – your values, passions, desires, talents, likes and dislikes. In fact, many people live this way.

They have some vague idea of who they are and what their hopes and dreams are, but they don’t take them seriously enough to commit to them, and think they can not be themselves at work. So they wall off their best talents, aspirations, and passion, denying them, down playing them or saving them for their personal time, and work just for the money.

This is so sad and so common. No one and no thing can stop you without your permission. You’re not a failure until you say you are. If God/Nature/the Universe gave you the desire and the vision, it has also made the means to realize them available. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Get your bloated nothingness out of the way of the divine circuits.”

Take the time to inquire deeply. Invest in yourself. Learn to accept yourself as the spiritual being you are, and claim your God given talents, passion and dreams. Know they are there inside you – as they are in everyone, and seek them out. Let this seeking be an adventure in faith, forgiveness, love and joy. Let this seeking develop the qualities of faith, forgiveness, love and joy within you. And as you develop them in yourself, for yourself, you’ll have them to share with others.

Of course there will be rough spots and difficulties, strains and struggles. Your bloated nothingness will not go quietly. Anticipate this, expect it and be kinder, gentler and more supportive. Remember, it is not for yourself alone that you do this. It is not being selfish, it’s nurturing and being responsible for a child of God. There is no higher calling.

As you nurture yourself and grow in kindness, patience, faith, passion, calm and clarity you bring these great gifts to life for those around you. They will take heart and inspiration from you. Seen in this light, achieving success at work is an inner spiritual adventure that begins within yourself and ends by benefiting you and everyone in your life.

Summary Bullets

• The idea of ‘finding’ success at work is too, passive; think in terms of achieving success
• Achieving success at work is best done from the inside-out
• Take stock of your talents, passions, strengths and weaknesses
• Have the courage to bring your passion to work, to use it on the job. Don’t fear expressing what matters most to you
• When you nurture yourself and come from passion, you’re not just empowering yourself or being selfish, you’re setting an example and inviting everyone in your life to do the same

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