‘Commit or quit’
The material cost of Covid can be – sort of – measured; the emotional cost cannot. That it is big and highly significant nobody denies. But we do not know the full personal extent of it. Nor do we know if some of the problems people are finding were there long ago lurking in the shadows, waiting for an opportunity to emerge. Well, they‘ve emerged now along with the very real problems of classifying socialising as trivial, contact as optional and people as productivity puppets. Time after time I hear senior people privately admitting to a surprising loss of personal and corporate confidence, lack of awareness of change and an inability to comprehend how and why.
Some call it a loss of direction, some, an inability to keep up with the pace of change.
However you define it, it is a loss of purpose. Purpose is what drives us all – our company’s purpose, often; our own purpose, if we are sensible. We do not have to be determined to climb Everest, nor are we compelled to have a purpose of achievement of any kind, although most non-achievers end up regretting their lack of purpose.
It boils down to this. If you have a job but are not happy-ish in it, what are you going to do about it? You need the money, we all do. Getting another job would be a pain, and maybe very difficult. All the effort of job hunting might land you back in a very similar situation, mightn’t it? Then there’s the however-many years you have worked for the company. Every year is a bonus of goodwill towards you. They’d look after you if everything went to pot, wouldn’t they?
You are foolish to count on goodwill from a company. It does happen, but quite rarely these days. The Terms & Conditions don’t say it but in all honesty they should. “Perform or go” is the working model of most businesses. They might as well add “AI will take over your job quite soon”. Not a pretty picture. The first question you have to ask is “What are my assets?” That you have plenty is without question. But most people are more worried about their weaknesses. We all have weaknesses, many from birth or very early years when we didn’t realise that we were cultivating them. And most people spend their lives trying to iron out their weaknesses. Religious and commercial pressure combine to produce guilt, the most debilitating of corrective efforts.
Truth is we often find it difficult or impossible to correct our weaknesses so we are better spending our time and effort focusing on our strengths. It is key to our success that we know them, embellish them and use them to make our productivity top quality. Truth is, too, that we often don’t have a strategy. Thinking through what you want to make you happy in life is seen as some sort of child’s play, not really an adult occupation at all. But the questions you have to grapple with if you are to create a credible strategy are (i) Where do you want to get in your career? (ii) When do you want to get there? (iii) What actions must you take now to start reaching your goal?
There is an important aspect of this goal setting. To arrive at the happiness you seek you must think deeply about what you want and why you want it. There is an old saying that someone who buys a boat is happy on two days – the day he gets it and the day he gets rid of it. It isn’t true, of course. Most boat owners are happy for longer than that. However, there is an element of truth in that saying – and one that can be applied to most possessions. ‘Think before you want’ is a very good maxim.
And here’s another thought for your strategic time. Once you have a direction and a goal, commit to it. During this pandemic, commitment has often been rightly diverted to emergencies for individuals, businesses and economies. The heavy toll on hospitality, transport, sports and medical businesses has been gruelling for those trying to treat their employees fairly while remaining commercially viable. These urgent compellers have stripped from many people the time and personal resource needed to pay attention to others.
All this is very understandable. The time to correct the damage that has been done to the structure of the business or organisation has arrived. And only the people who are determined to see the phase through are going to survive the structure review. I believe a great many more than will survive it could do so but for one thing. They don’t have the commitment. They continue to “look around”, a phrase that classifies them perfectly. Looking around prevents focus.
In spite of the fact that it’s a hard world, there are many jobs for those who can demonstrate commitment. Those who can’t show it where they are should quit their jobs, sort out their lives and careers and join somewhere where they can throw the whole weight of their knowledge and experience to make a stunning success.
That’s why we call it “Commit or quit”.
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