Updated: Jan 5, 2021
This post is about fear versus hope. I don’t want you to have to work in fear. A lot of people I spoke to throughout 2020 seemed fearful. The threat of redundancy was closer and more real than previous years. Did these phrases creep into your self-talk in 2020...
don’t say or do the “wrong” thing,
don’t rock the boat,
do as you’re told and don’t question authority
I’ll just keeping my head down
Working in fear (being hope-less) I believe is the saddest most wasteful state for a human being to be in. Fear is the killer of psychological safety and all the wonderful things it enables; all the good stuff work can do for us. In the 30 Meetup events I hosted in 2020 I consistently found agile practitioners coming to these community events in search of belonging, inspiration and safety. I believe a lot of the Meetup attendees were seeking hope because it was not available in their workplace; in this post I want to help you to bring more hope into your work life in 2021? Here are two specific tangible actions YOU can take to flush fear out of your work life in the year to come.
1. Always have a “best alternative” to your current situation
This comes from negotiation theory which states that you should always have an alternative to the negotiated agreement. If you do nothing to have an alternative to your current employment situation then you can end up trapped in a role that sucks out your soul with no way out. You know you’re in this situation when you start saying things like “If I stay in this job for another 3 years I’ll get long service leave/benefits”. Really!, you’d trade hope and happiness for three years of misery simply for some holiday pay cheque!?
Creating a “best alternative” whilst working in a full time job is hard but in today’s gig economy and casualisation of work do we really have a choice; we need to have a backup plan in case our role is made redundant (I’d recommend having multiple back-up plans). Creating your alternatives also connects you with your community, keeps you up to date with what the market is up to whilst also reducing your fear of the unknown. And of course you can create alternatives within the company you currently work for; so my message is not about leaving your employer. In fact talk to your employer/manager/lead about your "why" (of work) and always be exploring career options openly. Speaking of why; that's the other thing I'd suggest you get straight.
2. Know WHY you work and be prepared to sacrifice things to stay aligned to it
Last night was new year’s eve; we had a few friends over for a private get together; we found ourselves drifting onto the subject of purpose at work. We ended up putting on Simon Sinek’s “Golden Circle” TED talk and proceeded to have a heated discussion on personal/professional WHY. To summarise the talk he simply challenges us to know what we believe (our why); start there and work outwards to how you execute against your why and then what you do. So why are you aspiring to work in agile roles; what do you believe to be true? If you get that answer you can then navigate to the how and what.
To help you, here’s my why-how-what:
WHY - I bring kindness to how we get more stuff done through agile
HOW - I do this by enabling agile practitioners to be responsive to the needs of the people they talk to
WHAT - a business to advise, coach, consult, mentor, educate, inform individuals, teams and organisations on my why
Conclusion - Let's create hope in 2021
If you’re in a role where you’re aligned to your purpose, congratulations! I would still encourage you to have a “best alternative” to ensure you don’t fall into a fearful state where you’re more worried about losing your job than you are about creating value and getting stuff done. If you feel disconnected to your work and are always seeking meaningful moments outside of work then maybe do some reflection to check that your personal WHY is aligned to what you’re doing at work.
Through maintaining an alternative to your current role and staying aligned with your WHY you should always have a light at the end of your tunnel with more hope and less fear. This is the work life I want you to live; here’s to a bright and better 2021 to you, your family and in your work life. I'll finish with an open coaching question for you...
What's one thing you could do next year to bring more hope into your work life?