The business world is in a state of constant evolution. Go-to growth strategies are less reliable than they used to be. Systems we’ve trusted for decades are now systematizing the wrong things. Leadership behaviors we consistently touted – drive for results, accountability, negotiation – are still important, yet insufficient, and now share the spotlight with skills like creativity, agility, emotional intelligence, and managing diversity. Collectively, we are reaching for the silver bullet to keep our companies, our jobs, and our partnerships healthy and productive. But the more we reach, the further the solution appears to be.
These are unsettling times for established and emerging leaders alike. Over the last few months, I’ve witnessed extraordinarily smart, capable, experienced professionals across industries and positions struggle to keep the faith as they consider the unknown. While I understand the mental and emotional impact of uncertainty, it saddens me to see so many inspired people question their worth and their futures, as if their inherent value is dictated by the work they do, or don’t do. When the rules change, it doesn’t have to mean the game is over. Sometimes it’s time to play a new position. Or perhaps a different game altogether.
Change is unsettling, for sure, but it also creates opportunity. When the methods we’ve always used no longer drive acceptable results, new methods must be created. Often, these new methods come from unexpected places. Are you an unexpected place?
When change is swirling around you, here are five truths to remember. Let them bring you stillness, peace…then power.
1. Work happens inside your life, not the other way around.
Your work is one small part of the big, bold experience you are living. It’s a chance to use your gifts to build, nurture, win, and transform. Great work is a meaningful part of life, and can bring great satisfaction. But “great work” can be defined much more broadly than we think. It’s not confined to a place, a time, or even monetary reward. There’s a world beyond your comfort zone, and it needs what only you can give. Expand your view, and go see about it. You’ll be glad you did.
2. Your worth doesn’t need a co-signer.
Do you feel misunderstood? Under-utilized? Unappreciated? Invisible? Why? It’s healthy to acknowledge how you are perceived at work and by whom. It’s also wise to explore what you can do to enhance others’ perceptions of your performance, and to work hard to deliver your best at all times. But don’t shrink to fit another’s small idea of who you are. Get big! Fill the maximum amount of space you can, with all your wonder and glory. The right people will notice if you pursue the opportunity to make a meaningful impact, and do so with passion and intent.
3. You are the creator of your professional experience.
Sometimes we wait for someone to give us an opportunity, and sometimes we create our own. Did you know you can create your own professional experience in any context? If you are in a specific role, you can add value in new ways by volunteering your skills beyond your job description. You can ask to pilot a new idea. Or you can seek a new role to leverage a more expansive you. You are never as stuck as you fear you are. Rules are changing, remember? That means you have a window to change your own rules, too, and to help create new ones to serve both your company and your greater purpose.
4. Seek harmony between work and life.
There is so much goodness to experience when we work in alignment with our beliefs and values. If you focus on making a difference – finding the connection between your work and your purpose – you will have more energy, resilience, courage, and fulfillment. When you live in harmony, you don’t expect a job, a manager, or external recognition to validate your efforts. Don’t get me wrong – recognition is nice, and if you’re making a positive impact at work, you deserve it! But purpose-led work doesn’t wait for validation. It does what it knows it must do…one day at a time, any way it can. And life rewards you by reflecting the good you do.
5. When all else fails, leap.
Ever heard people say you can’t grab onto anything new while you’re holding onto something old? When you’ve tried, asked, served, worked, pushed, offered, and have otherwise given your current circumstance your best shot, don’t be afraid to step in a new direction. There is comfort in the familiar, I know. But if, for an extended period of time, you’ve lost your passion, every effort seems to fall flat, you find yourself doing the bare minimum because you can’t muster enough energy to go beyond…it may be time to leap. Don’t let the fear of the unknown be greater than the pain of staying in a situation that no longer serves you.
There is much work to be done in the world, and you have a role in it that you alone can play. If you’re facing significant change, please know that you don’t have to sit back and let it happen to you. You can “happen to it”! You can make difference from anywhere, at any time.
Take a leap of faith. I’m cheering for you!
Purchase my new book here: Say Yes: A Woman’s Guide to Advancing Her Professional Purpose