Breakup with your organization without leaving

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Sophisticated organizations construct relationships with the people that enable the group. Even if all you do is punch the time clock at work, part of your identity is associated with your job, the building you work in, the company you work for and the people you work with. If you actually like what you do, have skills that help you deliver in meaningful ways and the stomach to deal with the human condition, then it is in your organization’s best interest to retain you – even better if they get you to retain you.

It takes an incredible amount of clarity to both understand what is important and why it is important.
A few years back an executive offered some mentoring advice to help structure the conversation of what was important to me. Consider money, recognition, visibility and content. Assign a percentage to each of these according to the contributing importance to what drives you. This and other techniques help someone understand what is important, but not why. What in the absence of why is dangerous. Deriving insight from the what is certainly possible, in fact powerful. Investigating why someone feels a certain way can be even more transformative.

Incentives are a common method of influencing behavior. The most powerful of which communicate social or professional status – titles or black credit cards. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be an executive with a fancy title, but the meaning of such a label has power within the organization and possibly with other groups that identify with similar notions. Everyone else, especially an indigenous tribe in a far away land, has no idea what it means. Creative workplaces often poke fun at organizational structures encouraging titles to be fun – Guru of Internet happiness. It is easy to not realize why what you desire is fabricated. Ensuring the “why” of “what” comes from you and not someone else is the key to freedom.

Breaking free from your organization makes you a more effective contributor.
It is impossible for your relationship with an organization not to contribute to your identity. The longer you groove over the same mental and physical paths the more efficient traversing these passageways become. Realizing any path is possible often means breaking some of the psychological and physiological habits associated with the current context – the more deep the groove the more resistance and pain involved in changing. This can be an emotional break up where the individual is reorganizing and reestablishing the relationship with the organization. People tend to change organizations instead of changing their conception of the organization – guaranteed to repeat the pattern. Your organization defines you, but you can define the organization and leave and define something else somewhere else if need be. The terms of your contract are not to be a hamster in a running wheel. That is just what happens when people accept things as they are.