Personal Finance

Ruffle feathers, rock boats without ceasing

It’s only through dedication that you will conquer new territories. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

We stopped developing ourselves the minute we got jobs. We naively assumed that life stopped for us as well. We did the expected, the accepted and remained on the tried and tested paths.

We conformed, fitted into the teams we joined and became bonafide members. In a nutshell, we remained aspired to and remained average. It means that we sailed smoothly... and that is wonderful on many fronts.

The issue is that we fitted in too well to disrupt the status quo, didn't ruffle any feathers or rock any boats by attempting to journey on roads less-travelled. It means we did nothing outstanding, however, high up the ladder we got.

The other people chose to engage in taxing, time-consuming, seemingly thankless and endless endeavours. Why would we put ourselves through what they did? They must have been looking to suck up to their managers.

We are the smart confident people who wouldn’t need to take on such arduous self-punishment when we could get by fulfilling the duties outlined on our job descriptions. At the end of our days we met up with our friends and did the usual comfortable normal things that working people do.

Tick tock tick tock... three years later, those seemingly crazy emerge as leaders within or outside our organisations. They, unlike us were prepared without necessarily being called upon to embrace the dynamic environment and showcase their strengths.

They understood early on in their careers that to fully appreciate and align themselves with any organisation's goals, they had to raise their own self-awareness and establish personal ideals and direction. They understood the value of personal discipline and raised their value in personal, professional and social interactions.

The power of their productive habits propelled their effective, consistent, relevant and timely execution of their aspirations. They take it upon themselves to raise the bar of organisational mindsets and overall culture by personifying desirable leadership traits. These people weren’t the best academic performers but their success is no wonder.

Why did we get passed by? We are brilliant people! How could this have happened? Well, unlike them, we secretly entertained what these people now have but we weren’t ready to roll up our sleeves to do the required work. We now seemingly suddenly find that we are stuck at the same place we were three years ago. We can no longer speak of careers. We just have jobs that progressively feel more of daily grinds.

There is no promise of advancement. We are 'demotivated' and our employers must surely be to blame for it.We struggle to manage ourselves. The teams we manage become more and more of burdens. We can hardly carry out projects without pulling our hair out. We grow older and more set in our ways. The companies we work for begin to feel less like the exciting opportunities we sought a while back and more like mazes of unending bureaucratic systems that serve more to handcuff our creativity than empower us to give our best output. How stifling can life be! We slide into frustration. Lethargy sets in and before we know it, we are no longer the star performers we once were. We are no longer the energetic, driven professionals that our employers signed the dotted line for.

Our employers on the other hand have their own goals. They are busy people with little or no time to babysit us especially because there is no shortage of younger, cheaper, eager and energetic entrants into the workplace to pick from. Opportunities inevitably start to skip us more than we can bear. We dream of transitioning into new roles or take the plunge into entrepreneurship for years but do nothing. We convince ourselves that we are being realistic; we are tied up in loans, school fees and mortgages, you know. So we stay put feeding our minds on the unfortunate notion that it is better to be safe than sorry.

Most of those around us subscribe to the same school of thought. This is what life is, right? All the while, the clock’s hands tick away diligently. Soon, our employer restructures and we find ourselves out in the cold. The question is: are we willing to put in the work to make that happen before hitting the rock?