Most of us have have had the experience at work of not saying what is on our mind because the environment demands that we stay in the box, yet we are expected to think out of the box. Sometimes we feel inadequate because we don’t fit the mold. We conform or adapt to what we think is the norm in order fit into a corporate culture, a team, or an idealized vision of a leader.
Our institutions, from universities to Boardrooms, are fundamentally competitive and individualized. We compare ourselves to others and whether we are students or executives, we are made to feel inadequate if we are not labeled “A players.” Business school students are taught that their “soft skills” (creativity) that are less valuable than their “hard skills” (analytics). Women are told they need to “toughen up” in order to lead.
We think we have to act according to how we feel. We might intellectually understand the value of celebrating mistakes and failures, yet we stress over them and are afraid of their consequences. We know it’s good to unplug but we buy into the notion that successful people work 24/7 so we wake up, grab our phones by the beside, and check our emails while we still have sleep in our eyes.
DAYDREAM AS OFTEN AS YOU WANTSTOP PREPARING FOR MEETINGS AND PRESENTATIONSSPEND LESS TIME ON KEY DECISIONSBE MORE “MINDFUL” THAN FOCUSEDSHORTEN YOUR WORKDAY
When I am coaching people I give them permission to be subversive, defined as seeking or intended to subvert an established system or institution. Being subversive in a business context (and in all walks of life) is developmental. It frees us from the constraints of doing business as usual, which is all too often confining and prevents us from giving full expression to our creative capacities. We live in a historical moment where many of our institutions are failing us and our children. It is a moment that demands innovation, leadership and a new vision of what our country and our world can become.
In order to grow we have to find ways to be who we are becoming; we create our lives. We don’t have to conform to the rules, we don’t even have to conform to the rules that we established for ourselves! We can, in appropriate ways, be subversive, we can be heretics, we can bust out of the conventional ways that we learn to play certain roles in order to write a new play for ourselves, for our co-workers, for our fellow Americans and citizens of the world. In this way we can develop environments for innovation, leadership and creativity.
All of this demands that we PERFORM, PLAY and BE SUBVERSIVE!