Let’s face it, bureaucracy aside, government service does come with some pretty attractive benefits. Decent health insurance, a regular paycheck, paid vacation time, and even retirement benefits. Cool!
But has that same system turned you into a charity case? Have you allowed that system to place limits on how far you’ll progress professionally, how much you’ll grow personally, or even how good you’ll feel on any given day?
For example, when you request trainings and don’t get them, do you just throw up your hands in frustration and go complain to your friends about how unfair the system is? Do you hold back on applying for stretch assignments or rotations because you assume that when you are ready for it, somebody will just give it to you? Or, maybe the opposite is true. You apply for something, aren’t selected, and then tell everyone how undeserving the chosen candidate is.
Do you allow your boss, colleagues, or volume of work to determine how good or bad you are going to feel today?
When you do these things, you put limits on yourself. You leave your professional success and overall happiness at the mercy of someone, or something, outside yourself.
One of the core lessons of espionage tradecraft is to “get your target to take money from you, because once they do, you begin to have control over them”. Unfortunately, many of us allow the same to be true in our work lives. They give us a paycheck, and we give them total control over what we do and don’t do, learn and don’t learn, think and don’t think.
It is true that your organization hired you to perform a specific service for them and that there are rules and regulations around the nature of those services. But all too often I see employees surrendering their dreams, intentions, goals, and aspirations to the confines of the organizations they serve. Waiting for their organizations to throw them a crumb that “allows” them to take the next step forward.
The advantage to this approach is that you don’t have to assume responsibility for anything. You can make your entire life experience someone else’s fault leaving you completely free to gripe, whine, complain, stew, mope, and blame.
What it does not leave you free to do is be happy, calm, confident, or make a positive difference in the world…whether you define “world” as the globe or simply the lives of your kids and grandkids.
So what does taking back control actually look like? It’s all about recognizing YOUR power of choice and choosing WHO you want to be.
Step 1: Decide to assume responsibility for your own happiness and success.
Step 2: Answer the following questions:
- What do you want your career and your life to look like?
- What needs to be different for you to love your job—or love your job EVEN MORE?
Here’s a hint: if you are looking outside yourself at your boss, your colleagues, your direct reports, or the system, you skipped Step 1.
Step 3: Once you have that list, then ask yourself, is this the kind of person that I want to become?
Please note, the answer to the question in Step 3 is NOT ALWAYS YES. But whatever the answer is, take steps toward that. If there are resources available in your organization to help you take steps toward that, fine. If not, do it anyway.
Whatever excuse pops up around why you can’t take those steps is where you are putting limits on yourself.
I’d love to hear from you. Once you complete this exercise, reply to this email and tell me what you discovered.