What do you want to achieve in life? What will be your legacy? The average UK worker spends more than 12 years of their life at work, and most of us want more from that time than just to hold down a job, maintain the status quo, and simply take home a pay cheque. I know we want to be remembered for something more. Life is short, and we only live once.
Unfortunately, we live life constrained by expectations to conform. These expectations are pinned on us by family, work and even society. You have to constantly ask yourself — am I being myself or who others want me to be? If it’s others …then ask yourself why? Who are you living life for? Why are you not … you? After all, it’s a harder role playing someone else. Grasp opportunities, because they may not come again.
So what’s holding you back?
“Excuse Addiction”: the Rhetoric of Failure
Excuse addiction is a scourge of modern business life. Making excuses is easier and more convenient than accepting responsibility. Blaming other things or people makes lack of delivery easier. Why accept responsibility when you can place blame?
Low performers see barriers as excuses to fail, and excuse addiction becomes the language of failure.
High performers don’t use excuses. They see challenges as opportunities and barriers as obstacles to overcome. They seize victory from the jaws of defeat. If you want to do something, you will find a way. If you don’t really want to do it, you will find an excuse.
But delivery is not easy. Some people will always believe they know better than you, whether they have delivered and been successful or not!
Beware Judgement by the Commentariat
This is the curse of the commentariat: those who haven’t risked or achieved much of anything professionally but who pass judgement on others’ work to build their own brands.
Sound harsh? Take a look at their LinkedIn profiles and see what they have delivered and at what level. Notice how they rarely post their own work, but log a litany of negative comments against others who post their achievements and milestones. The commentariat sit on social media waiting to criticize others. That negativity is the oxygen that feeds the PR machine they need to build their own brand. Their vitriol discourages idea-sharing and honesty, as we fear the poisonous injection of their biting venom.
Imagine the commentariat at the time of the Wright Brothers making the first flights, Alexander Graham Bell inventing the telephone, James Watt revolutionizing the steam engine — lampooning them for their idiocy and “impossible” ideas. One person’s idiocy is another’s innovation and even genius. That’s why it’s important to be yourself.
There is an irony that those with the strongest opinions are too afraid to present their own ideas, preferring the adulation of their friends on their social media echo chamber, little realizing the damage they do to their own personal brand by the silent majority who watch intently but don’t comment. If you believe in something — go out into your community, go onto to social media, and show your true self, give your opinion, stand for election. Don’t bully others.
Don’t fear the commentariat. Leave them to their bitter views and go on and deliver and show what you can achieve. Talking the talk (especially on social media) is easy. Delivery is harder but where success lies. No one remembers a talker!
The Need for Workforce Activism
As people become more empowered to speak their views publicly, they feel free to be themselves, and not constrained by conformist expectations. They no longer fear bullying and they can empower and give rise to workforce activism.
Workforce activists are those who challenge the status quo, trying to make a real difference in their jobs, not just to cash a pay cheque. They strive to make a difference, break away from excuses, and become high performers. Workforce activism replacing social media activism is a game changer.
Make a Difference … Lead!
Recruitment needs more workforce activists. Too few challenge the status quo. In many cases, there is a game of recruitment chess that takes place as recruitment leaders switch between companies. The same faces seem to move between jobs every 12 to 18 months. Is it because they have delivered in that time, because they develop their mystique by switching jobs, or because they get found out for just blowing hot air? You decide. Is a great leader one who changes jobs every one to two years? What can truly be achieved in one to two years? Too many enjoy the benefits of leadership without doing anything with the job.
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Worryingly, too many people are also turning to consulting as a career path and not leading in corporations. Great leaders should have great networks, contacts, teams, people to ask, and they shouldn’t need consultants. If you always rely on consultants to deliver on your behalf, what makes you a leader? This is part of the excuse addiction — the desire to bring on someone else to correct a problem or to place the blame when things fail.
The key to leadership is not to fear failure. Failure brings learnings and is the path to success. We must all fail to win. We teach small children this but we forget this lesson as adults. When you fear failure, you are off the cutting edge. To never taste failure is to never have innovated (we’re talking about our own innovations in Minneapolis this fall).
Always believe in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself … why should anyone else?
Ultimately, you control your destiny. Don’t expect or wait to be spoon-fed success. It comes through hard work, talent, and risk. Never constrain yourself, Never let others opinions or force of personality bully you. Be yourself, and skip the excuses. Don’t judge others, encourage them. And if you need to judge … judge yourself. Do what you want, you own your career. Run with purpose. For every barrier, for every excuse, see opportunity. Look for ways to succeed and overcome barriers.
|I don’t have budget.||Make a business case. Convince others. Budgets are earned and not given. If your business case is that convincing, a business will find money.|
|I don’t have the resources.||Look at what can be done to achieve your goals. Can you use eager fresh grads, interns, students, people in other departments who believe in your goals?|
|I don’t have a team.||Use virtual resources. Inspire others to help deliver your goals.|
|I don’t have the time.||Break the cycle. If you don’t create time you will do things as you have always done.|
|I can’t.||… or won’t?|
|Our company is too small.||Scale it, make it appropriate.|
|It never worked in the past.||That does not mean it won’t work now.|
|My boss/my department doesn’t support me.||Build alliances outside of your boss. Sometimes working with others to convince your boss, or sometimes working around or over them if you are bold.
‘My Department …’: You are part of your department. Lead, convince your peers and leaders
|That’s marketing’s responsibility.||Help them realize the importance or you run with it.|
|I am a recent grad. I am too young to make an impact now.||Age is but a number. If you are good enough, you are old enough.|
|I can’t do it … get me a consultant quick.||Speak to leaders in other companies and learn from them. Use social media recruitment communities, even Google! Lead: it’s what you are paid to do.|