If you’ve read other entries in this blog you’ll know that I’ve always been a proponent of encouraging people to be autodidacts, to seek knowledge on their own and to engage in the joy of learning. This philosophy comes as a result of my own experiences as a home-schooled kid and as a college English instructor. When I taught my classes were open, democratic, collaborative, and relied upon the self-direction and self-motivation of my students. I took joy in seeing self-expression that was as untainted by my rules as I could make it.
Ironically, however, that’s not how I’ve conducted myself as a manager in the corporate environment. Here I’ve been very directive. Basically, I adopted the hegemonic, hierarchical structure of the organization. I didn’t do this unconsciously, but felt neither safe nor supported in taking a different approach.
Until a year ago, when a new leader created the space for me to be more myself. So much so that I truly feel free for the first time in my career to be who I am and to bring my whole self to work. In fact, I just wrote a prose poem based on a prompt by another equally open and collaborative leader, our new Chief People and Experience Officer. The prompt is based off the concept of “giving yourself an ‘A’” as outlined in The Art of Possibility, by Ben and Rosamund Zander. Here, for your merriment, is the prose poem I wrote. Feel free to point and laugh:
I brought my whole self to work,
my fearless, innovative, expressive self,
my skeptical, inquisitive, philosophical self,
my artistic, creative, expansive self,
the one that sees possibility everywhere and in everyone
that hopes to inspire others
that feels joy when others are joyful
the one that contains paradoxes and contradictions
that accepts all aspects of existence
that experiences frustration, sadness, and loss
the one that embraces reality and revels in the art of evolution
that savors the puzzles, the cacophony, the chaos
that creates order, meaning, purpose
the self that seeks greatness
the self that loves all living things
the self that is, and always will be, becoming something more
I brought my whole self. It made all the difference.
Robert Frost fans may note a stolen line at the end. Poetry is still a work-in-progress for me.
The more I think about the changes at work, the people who are being drawn to the group, and the direction my boss is taking the team (leading through “benign neglect”), the more excited I am to be a part of it.