What makes us miserable

Acceptance is not about taking what makes us miserable, shutting it in the closet, throwing away the keys, numbing the feelings that inevitably it will keep us giving, and pretending as if that does not exist.

Acceptance is taking what makes us miserable, understanding it, putting it front and center for a while, making friend with it, finding a way to go about our days despite it. Until eventually it will go shut itself in the closet by itself.

The former approach will make misery expand and take new forms. The latter will make it go away once and for all.

Two different ways. Two very different outcomes.

Asking to change

Change is difficult enough when it is us starting it. If we are asked to change for a cause that is not ours, that becomes a whole lot more challenging.

Consider two things.

Those asking for you to change should be less than those supporting you for who you are. When this is not the case, you might have to reconsider your circle, because the unbalance is probably taking a lot of your focus and energy.

Those asking for you to change might either be giving you a kick in the right direction or pulling you in their own direction. While we sometimes need the former, as we might be unable to see the change we need, we very rarely will benefit from the latter.

Folly

Companies have a strong tool they can leverage to influence behaviour: rewards.

The problem then is not that companies cannot figure out how to increase employees collaboration, how to break down silos, how to foster innovation, or how to build a safe space for feedback. The problem is that the focus is – sometimes unintentionally – on a contrasting behaviour, which gets strenghtened with rewards.

Steve Kerr 1995 – On the folly of rewarding A, while hoping for B.

The camel

Episode nine of the second season of Parks and Recreation presents a plot that many will find familiar.

The boss wants to win a competition and calls for the whole team to come up with ideas. Despite the general disengagement, each one of them presents a proposal; and when failing to agree on which one to put forward for the prize, they come together and combine them all into one. The result is a camel – in the sense of a horse designed by committee – that leaves them with slim chances to win, and yet it is a team effort. Unsatisfied and driven by possible reward, the boss calls the external consultant, who comes up with something that would most likely take the first prize. While further disengaging the team.

The point is that it is more important to achieve something together, anything really. This is how team, morale, and bond are built.

There are very few circumstances when winning matters more then the way you compete. Very few.

Possibly none.