Driving in Manhattan can be a harrowing experience. Laser-like focus on the route is essential to navigate the ever-changing openings as they become available to squeeze ahead. With a keen eye and fearless precision, you must maneuver your way through the maze of opportunities, while at the same time averting potholes and pedestrians in your path. Extensive use of peripheral vision can be deadly; it causes you to see all the potentially horrible things that could end up in your path. As a result, you can become fearful and hesitant, potentially wreaking havoc on those around you. (I call this phenomenon "Connecticut drivers"!) Rather, as a proud, seasoned NY driver with a singular mission to reach my destination, I keep my eyes on the road, step on the gas and hope for the best!
Reaching a goal –any goal — requires the same laser-like focus. We must keep our eyes fixated on available opportunities, however small, in order to move forward. Using that keen eye and fearless precision, we can maneuver our way through the maze of chances, amidst any chaos life throws in our path. It is when we spend our energy looking at all the potentially horrible things that could impede our ability to succeed that we end up standing still (like those Connecticut drivers!), therefore irritating everyone around us. Sometimes you just have to step on the gas and hope for the best!
Occasionally, we find ourselves behind a metaphoric "city bus" as we travel down our career highway and are frustrated by our inability to see around it. As we sit there, not moving, we become resentful of the cars moving in the lane next to us. We try to inch our way into their lane, but no one will let us in. Our frustration level rises. It isn't fair, we think. Why do they have opportunities I don't have? As our thoughts grow more and more hateful, the bile begins to rise in our throats. Then suddenly, our lane starts to move and the one we were trying to enter comes to a dead halt. Good thing no one let me in, we think. Now, we have an opportunity to see around the bus and find a huge opening to move forward.
Among the most insidious complaints found in the workplace today, it is the THEY complaint that limits our ability to move forward.
- They didn't train me.
- They didn't give me any feedback.
- They didn't tell me.
- They made that decision.
While I don't disagree that "they" do oftentimes fail to train employees adequately, neglect to provide meaningful feedback and poorly execute decisions, complaining about it is a waste of time. Why not use that energy to take constructive action instead? If you need training, seek it out on your own. If you want feedback, request it. If you want information, ask questions. And, perhaps most importantly, if you do not understand why a particular decision was made, seek clarification instead of assuming some nefarious motive by management. Find your opening to move forward.
Approach the workplace as a community of individuals united in the common purpose of arriving safely at their destination. When we lose sight of our interconnectivity, we blame "they" for our inability to reach our goals.
Sometimes it just takes patience to get where we are trying to go, both physically and metaphorically. The obstacles are real. They may impact our timetable, but they do not have to derail us from safely arriving at our destination. We can choose to become aggravated and swear at others moving more quickly, or we can crank up the tunes and enjoy the ride. Life's journey is much more fun that way!