The environment we live in does impact our our state of being. Sometimes we think we are impervious to the effects of our “ecosystem of relationships”. We are being influenced every day by the environment and significant people. It is usually through their values or behaviors. The question is, who has the greater influence? Is it you or your environment?
Over the past view weeks I have been reflecting on how these relationships either empower and motivate us, or dis-empower us. Healthy environments will cause us to grow and be productive. Toxic atmospheres will ultimately drain us of our energy and motivation.
What kind of environment are you in? Are you making choices to create environments in your work place and family that will advance and challenge you to grow? Have you become a part of the solution?
Conversely, how do you know you are in a toxic environment that is bringing you down? We could list a dozen characteristics, but I think these four are big items that stick out. Lets take a look at them.
Blaming: For the past six months a bunch of executives have been arguing and pointing the finger at each others organization for a major short fall in a key metric. This type of behavior fosters a culture about covering your back side and puts you in a defensive and adversarial position. Hostility can pervade. In this environment people are not taking responsibility and blame shifting and are not not accountable. When people follow the leader what do think what happens in an organization? Things can get ugly. It is best to make good choices and not to point the finger and blame others.
Back biting: A sister to blaming is back biting. While blaming points the finger, back biting destroys the reputation and defrauds people’s character. When you walk into a room when people have been talking to you, one can cut the atmosphere with a knife. Back biting destroys trust and undermines team work. It can be overt or it can be done subtly. If you have been burned by back biting, then you may find the next symptom.
Bitterness: This is a rotten substance that negatively impacts every relationship we have. It can be overt or it can subtly ooze. Bitterness settles in when people can’t get over the wrongs that have accumulated overtime. It is a toxic pill we swallow when our unresolved unforgiveness goes inward. If you are in an environment where there is bitterness present, I would intentional avoid interactions with that person so you con’t get contaminated. It can be very caustic.
Burnout: If you are experiencing any of the above, people and resources are likely not being managed in an effective way. Leaders and managers help influence the tone and atmosphere of your organization. When companies and managers do not honor their employees and support life balance, and are likely driven by meeting objectives at people’s expense. When this happens, people are expendable. Leaders may profess they are into employee development and support employee satisfaction, but in reality they don’t. The sure test is to observe their actions. If continued unrealistic demands are made by the company that are not sustainable, burn out will occur. One sign of burn out is when you repeatedly wake up in the morning tired and have no desire to tackle the day’s challenges. When a group is burnout they usually don’t attend meetings, or when do attend, they snooze or are distracted. Another clue might be that they won’t attend many social functions as well.
If you are experiencing any of the above, know that you can take charge and change things. No one has taken away your freedom to make good choices about your attitude. Sometimes it is hard to do when you are tired. So take time to rest and get refreshed and put some margin back into your life. We will talk further about how to assess your situation and take positive actions to turn your situation around.
Are you passionate about your profession and the work that you do? Or have you been marginalized by your environment?
So what is passion anyway? According to my personal experience and research, passion is the desire and drive to use your energy and focus to achieve something.
Everyone has a passion or passions in life. It is a part of your unique DNA and identity. It emerges from many factors including your internal motivations, experiences, preferences, disposition, values, skills and talents. Some people discover it when they are young and others find it later in life. Usually there are telling signs along the journey of life that point to your passion.
Though some people never develop the self awareness or experiences to find their passion, one thing is certain: once found, passion is powerful. When it is alive and working, it is like a force of nature that enables you to overcome great obstacles and set backs. It acts as the backbone in your will to achieve.
Did you ever wonder why you are attracted to some people. It could because there is a pull from within to connect with your passion so you achieve greatness. You may have connections in your social networks that you might consider weak links. If you explore those connections and build them, you find a support network that can help you develop and harness the power and creativity that can flow from your passion. Your social networks can become the ecosystem that create great growth.
Where you work could be influencing your passion factor. In 2009, Hagel, Brown and Davison (The Power of Pull) did a survey called the Shift Index. They found that workers in small companies were 60% more likely to be passionate about their work. What was more interesting is that people who were self employed were twice as likely to passionate about their profession. Larger companies seemed to marginalize their workers and employees seemed to be frustrated with their bosses. This makes sense because often in larger companies people have jobs with narrowing scope which can be a limitation. So when you are making a career choice, it is not just about the pay and benefits. Consider your environment, the people, the companies pursuits, size, and values and see if you connect with them.
We use this question to find the threads that can point to your passion(s) and motivation for greatness in life. Take a few minutes and answer these questions and share them with a friend. Ask them to summerize the common themes and see what you learn about yourself.
Answer the following question about three time periods in your life. It could when you were a child, in high school or college, and where you are right now.
What did you enjoy doing or accomplishing? Explain why you enjoyed it.
Answer this question for those time periods, review it with a friend and get feedback to extract common themes. I call these common ideas interwoven into your behavior “threads”.