Saturday, December 11, 2010

The myth of answering to our boss - stop it!

What power are you giving your boss that is interfering with your own purpose?

We tend to make the boss powerful because we falsely believe that without their support and approval we can't do our job. Our ambitions and dreams are held hostage as we become dependent on their support and approval. Here are four myths to consider:

1. They hold my future in their hands

2. They are key to my growth and I need to learn from them

3. They determine my work environment, morale and well being

4. They have the insight and wisdom I need to accomplish my job

It is actually foolish to believe that our boss will provide the keys to our future. There is no rational process guaranteeing a promotion, and despite attempts to be competent, judgments are merely subjective opinions. Their feedback has little to do with who we are and how we are actually doing our job.

Giving our boss power actually becomes an obstacle to learning. Our development and success is in our hands and it needs to stay there. They may wish to be helpful, but usually aren't.

Much of our difficulty comes from accepting the opinions of others rather than listening to our own internal guidance system. We have to light our own fire instead of placing our purpose in the hands of another.

By surrendering our functioning to others we automatically lose our freedom. And in doing so we forfeit our responsibility in creating our own culture by bringing the qualities we want into the world we inhabit.

They are not going to change. And we need to stop expecting that our boss will eventually understand us. They are not going to get it and even if they did there is no guarantee that they would want to help us get ahead.

There is no one to blame. We tend to think our boss is the problem and we want to fix them. They are merely expressing a symptom of the work system. Once they are gone another boss will step up and continue missing the point. We need to stay focused on our own behavior and get on with acting on what matters.

Jung reminded us that acts of disobedience are the first step toward consciousness. We are not here to fear or please our bosses. But our disobedience or betrayal can be a fuller expression of our own unique humanity. By disappointing authority we may be claiming the ground we stand on as our own. By choosing adventure over safety we are living into existential guilt instead neurotic guilt.

Neurotic guilt is symptomatic of an inauthentic life and stems from our fear of disappointing the expectations of others. We end up choosing to live a life chosen for us by others.

Existential guilt propels us toward deeper levels of personal integrity and challenges us to lean into our full potential. It is the ultimate redemptive value of betrayal and often will not be appreciated by those around us.

Betrayal can be a true gift that allows bosses to work through their own transformations while bringing emotional balance into our relationship systems with those in authority. It is a powerful stimulus for change especially when we can maintain contact rather than cutoff or alienation.

When we affirm our freedom and commitment to an organization, we can look past the behavior of our boss and instead respond to their intent. Our freedom and satisfaction come from acting to create what we believe in. And we can choose this independently of whether they support or reward or even want this from us.

The next time you find yourself wavering before your boss, remember that you are putting your future in someone else's hands. So stop it!

Take charge,

Highlighted from The Answer To How Is Yes - Acting on What Matters by Peter Block

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