Why are you trying so hard to fit in
when you were born to stand out?
Why are you trying so hard to fit in
when you were born to stand out?
Driving a car is purposeful. It would seem strange not to have a destination.
Maybe it is home, work, friends, relatives or a visit to somewhere new? Wherever we are going, we normally know the end point before we set out. Indeed we may plan a route. Maps, Sat Nav or simply a route in our heads, recalled from previous journeys perhaps? Or maybe we simply know the key roads and towns and follow the strategically positioned, helpful road signs?
Along the journey, we speed up, slow down, to match the traffic and conditions around us. We indicate turns so that others on different and similar journeys know our intention. We illuminate the way ahead at dusk when we need to see the road to our destination. We may pause en route to resource and replenish ourselves before setting out again to our destination.
Life isn’t like this.
In one, somewhat morbid, sense we know our destination. But in another we don’t. At birth we don’t know our purpose. We don’t know where we’re going. We have no idea of the route our life will take, or of the turns or stops along the way. We can even be half way, or three quarters of the way through our life journey and still not know where we are headed. Sadly some complete the trip and still never knew.
The drive of our lives doesn’t come with maps in the glove box or a Sat Nav on the dashboard. Sometimes we will swerve without indicating, avoiding collisions or steering away from, or towards something. Sometimes we will slow down, or stop, without brake lights for those around us. Life temporarily on hold, or simply crawling in traffic. Sometimes we will make up the route along the way. Sometimes we will turn back. Sometimes we will find a detour. And what if we pause, but don’t like the place we have stopped? What if our way becomes dimly lit, how will we shine a light on the way ahead? What if our vehicle breaks down and we cannot travel to where we wish to be, in the manner or time frame we would want? What if we don’t have the resources, the capabilities, the fuel to reach our destination? Fill up?
We take journeys and driving for granted. Route, provisions, stopovers, movement, fellow travellers, destination.
We have one life journey, yet many of us meander through it.
No aim. No plan. No route. Accepting places we don’t like. Being and doing something, because we don’t know any different, other than to accept it’s just where we are at the moment, on this somewhat aimless journey. Reacting. Swerving. Braking. Turning. Accelerating.
You wouldn’t drive aimlessly. Don’t drive your life that way.
Pay attention to who you are, where you are going, why you are going there and why that matters. Be authentically you. Be purposeful. Be sure when you get to the end, you haven’t gone the wrong way. Relish the journey. Appreciate the views. Value the experience. Enjoy those you meet along the way.
Time to program your SatNav?
It sometimes explores qualities of trust, honesty, respect, fairness, compassion. It will often cover the visible expectations and agreements, such as pay, hours, work, training, but more usefully might look under the waterline, beneath the visible iceberg, so to speak. Here might be give and take, inputs and outputs, responsibilities and rewards which are less clearly in play. Concepts such as control, power, innovation, recognition, commitment, respect, loyalty, tolerance and much much more.
At a meeting the other day we were discussing psychological contracts. We were to be a team, so the question posed was, ‘How did we want to be with each other?’
We were to discuss what we were looking for from other members of the team, what we were seeking from the team leader and what we would bring to the team. What our commitments would be in terms of contribution and what we were seeking in return.
As I reflected, I wondered how I could even begin to answer this, as my thoughts and feelings were initially directed inwards, at me. I wondered what my psychological contract with myself was?
Did I respect myself? Did I have compassion for myself? Did I have faith in myself? Was I in control of myself? Did I fully trust myself? Did I appreciate my own being? Did I own my own power?
What are my perceptions of myself, what do I believe about myself?
How am I getting in my own way, either unaware of, or maybe breaking, my own psychological contract even before I entered the room. Surely this is where I should start before considering any team working agreements?
What is my psychological contract of self?
No snowflake ever falls in the wrong place.
And in the end we follow them –
not because we are paid,
not because we might see some advantage,
not because of the things they have accomplished,
not even because of the dreams they dream
but simply because of who they are:
the man, the woman, the leader, the boss,
standing up there when the wave hits the rock,
passing out faith and confidence like life jackets,
knowing the currents, holding the doubts,
imagining the delights and terrors of every landfall;
captain, pirate, confidant and parent by turns,
the bearer of our countless hopes and expectations.
We give them our trust. We give them our effort.
What we ask in return is that they stay true.
The Contract – A word from the led by William Ayot
Half time and my team are 1-0 up.
We have been singing ‘Barmy Army’. All except one. His contribution seems to be ar-eee ar-eee. For ‘Blue Army’, it’s ooo-ar-eee.
It works though. Lost in the crowd. It adds to the noise and would seem to be quite economical. No need to waste consonants. No need to use facial muscle to form lips, mouth and jowel to enunciate all the suggested letters and sounds.
Where else can we be economical and still fit in? Save energy and still be part of the team? Go through the motions but still add something?
At work, at home, with friends, with colleagues, in relationships…?
Maybe at times we all do that?
Maybe we signal agreement, dissent, act as if we are together, pulling as one, but our commitment is only partial. Without consonants perhaps? Partially present, noisy, but somehow incomplete?
In my head, that would be me.
I’m not a sweater man.
I would have a funky moustache with those little waxed twirled ends. A cool haircut, as befits the younger me (I’m not sure I know what a cool haircut is, but I’d have one). Maybe some sunglasses, but only in the summer.
My clothes would be strong colours. No patterns. Just blocks of orange, yellow, green, cyan etc. No red, it’s not me.
Stylish shoes. Expensive. Well made.
I’m an individual.
I have a few of these things in my current ‘me’, but I wonder why not more? Why is my inner sense of me and my image different from that I show outwardly? I suspect it’s about judgement. Judgement of myself.
I wonder what it would be like to lose that judgement and to let the real me out?
What does your inner sense of you look like?
What would it be like to let it free?
In my coaching work, that’s a phrase frequently added by my clients…
“I don’t see it like that. Is that normal?”
“I can feel it churning in my tummy. Is that normal?”
“I just don’t know what I want. Is that normal?”
“It’s like I have a conversation in my head. Is that normal?”
even, “If we were to meet every three weeks maybe? I don’t know, is that normal?”
The search for affirmation that we are in some way ‘normal’ seems to be intrinsically inside us.
Society reinforces this of course. You will know this if your ethnicity is different from the majority. If you have a disability. If your sexuality, or the way you dress, is in some way not the society imagined ‘norm’ then your belonging can be challenged. You can be ‘told’ directly or indirectly that you don’t ‘fit’. For some of course this drives an expressed desire to be ‘different’, to stand out, to be individual.
There seems to be a tension between individual and the crowd or majority; between unique and the same, individual and similar; a tension between who we are and the expectations of everyone else.
When one of my clients says something like “I’m just not that driven. Is that normal?”
I wonder if the first half of that proclamation is a statement of self. A statement of uniqueness. A statement of what is. A statement of who we are and how we work. A statement of truth.
I wonder if the second half is just a blanket for belonging. A sense that by showing who I am, I might be judged, rejected, cast out.
Of course, in reality we are all unique. Even those who band together under the cloak of ‘the normal’ are, in truth, unique individuals. Hiding their true uniqueness for fear of rejection.
Normal is a cloak though.
Unique IS normal.
Shine your light. Step into the sunshine. Be yourself. Celebrate your difference. For it is through your difference that your contribution to the world will be manifest.
Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.
If someone took the time to notice you, to see you, to want to read the dust jacket of your story, what would they see, hear, feel and read?
If you could be who you are and say what you feel, what would people experience? What would that experience be like for you?
Do you know?