Apr 2 2014, 4:34pm CDT | by Forbes
By Maria Gamb
When Stephanie started out in business oh so many moons ago, she was just a bright-eyed 20-something full of hope and promise for the future. She headed straight to corporate America ready to conquer the world.
It was an amazing career that’s for sure, one that afforded her the opportunity to work and live around the globe. Looking back on this time Stephanie, now in her late 40’s, has much more appreciation than regret, that’s for sure. “Maybe I’m just wiser now,” she laughs, despite the challenges she’s faced with some pretty strange forms of leadership over the years. Those examples served as a beacon of what she did not want to create for herself, her teams and the people she collaborated with. “I was pretty clear that some of the behaviors I witnessed were, shall we say, less than palatable. Any indication that I could fall into those roles or what I considered entrapments of being such an individual left me cold. I opted out from many opportunities for fear I could become just like them.”
Several years ago she started her own business. Entrepreneurship had a sexy lure with the promises of having lots of flextime, creating a schedule that worked for her life. However, that also meant a whole new set of challenges. Or, perhaps it meant some of the old ones resurfacing again.
Stephanie came to realize that in the process there was also one single nagging commonality in these two worlds that she and many others struggled with constantly. She wasn’t alone. It was another peek inside the choice many professionals are making: opting-out of advancing their careers and work. Much is made of women opting out to return to a traditional role, but this wasn’t about children.
Many types of businesses have similar dysfunctional leadership behaviors and business practices. Those situations have left many turned off completely and thinking, “Well, if that’s how I need to be in order to be successful then I’m out. I don’t want to be like them.” These same words are voiced time and again over the years by both men and women. They opt out.
However, what if the situation could be reframed? What if there was a way to see this as a course correction? Or even see this as a learning experience which delves into the real fear of a human being living in this imperfect world?
Insight #1 “Themness” Isn’t All There Is - When we limit ourselves by using the measure of “themness” which is often equated with being a wrongdoer, then we allow these entities too much power in our lives. We allow them to stop us before we even get going.
Insight #2 Be Willing to Show Up Regardless - If one stays in the shadows then there would never be more positive examples of how to be in business differently. Overcome the knee-jerk reaction to opt out. Take the first step, show up for yourself and see what happens. You might be surprised.
Insight #3 Get Real About the Self-Worth Aspect - This is the most important one. Who said you had to be like them? Why couldn’t you just be yourself? Furthermore, what the heck makes you think that being yourself isn’t right or enough? Believe that you can and do things differently.
You aren’t the only person who has faced this fear. For whatever it is that you don’t want to embody, or project, it’s your true self saying: “I want out of this box you put me in. Just let me be me and express myself in this world.” It’s just another form of trying to be a good girl, trapped in a box with someone else’s life and rules written on it.
null Be a change agent. It sounds so simple yet it is challenging because we all fear judgment.
Rather than recoiling from being like others, be yourself. Trust that you are a different person than “them” and that as you step into your power you will not be destructive (fill in the blank). That’s not who you really are. Once you get this on a deep level you can move forward in your advancement. Make the decision not to opt out. Instead, be a game changer where you are now.
Is opting out a choice you’d make? I’d love to hear your comments.
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.
blog comments powered by Disqus