Having served for many years as a coach, trainer and consultant, I’ve had the privilege of working in a wide array of organizations. I have worked with various departments in all three levels of government as well as not-for-profit organizations, family-owned businesses, small private companies and large public corporations.
I’ve often said my life is blessed as I count myself among those who can’t wait to get up in the morning and go to work. To say I love my job is a massive understatement. It’s far more than love, it’s a passion for doing what I do that is, at times, all-consuming.
There is a theme, though, that seems to run through many of these organizations that I always felt to be somewhat unfortunate. Several decades of exposure to this theme had convinced me that this was the norm.
I am referring to a culture that suggests if I help you progress in your career, I may be jeopardizing my own chances of advancement; if I selflessly help you succeed, I may be diminishing my own chances of success.
For example, withholding information is a prime illustration of this.
Assume for a moment that there are three strong contenders for an upcoming promotion and one of them has information that would give a competitor a decided edge in the race.
The company would benefit mightily by the competitor having, and acting, on this information, but this would also reduce the chances of the holder of that information to win the promotion.
So he/she keeps it to himself.
Another frequently heard example is of folks sharing an idea with a colleague only to discover that the colleague has taken the idea forward to management and claimed full ownership of it.
In my company we have a long-held practice of signing confidentiality agreements with every client we interact with in a coaching relationship. This is our way of assuring our clients that if anyone should hear of anything we have discussed in our sessions, it is because they client chose to disclose that information, not us.
In addition to those signed agreements, we work hard to earn the trust of each client and many of our clients confide in us. I could fill pages with many examples similar to those two mentioned above, however, suffice it to say that employees in some companies have confided that they feel like contestants on “The Apprentice.”
I do not for a moment believe these stories reflect the values of these organizations, but rather serve as a sad indictment of the distorted view some people have as to what they believe is necessary in order to succeed in life.
As I mentioned earlier as much as I do not condone these types of behaviour I had come to believe that it was present in all organizations.
You can imagine both my surprise and delight when I was recently introduced to a company whose very culture disallows this type of behavior.
Just a few short weeks ago I was introduced to a company whose success can only be made possible by the continued and growing success of every single member of the organization.
This is a company that has fostered a culture of interlinked success, meaning that in order for me to succeed, I must help you succeed, and you, in turn, need to help me if you wish to succeed.
Every single person I have thus far met in this organization seems to exude a remarkable enthusiasm and desire to go out of their way to help everyone achieve the highest level of success.
This is a company where people travel hundreds of miles at their own expense for the sheer joy of helping a colleague move closer to achieving their goals.
It is a company that understands what is perhaps one of the most profound and liberating principles of life. The principle that teaches us the only competitor I need to face in my journey to success is me. Excellence is not about being better than anyone else, it is about being the best I can be, and that my limits are nothing more than the product of my thoughts.
They promote the philosophy that no-one other than me stands between where I am and where I wish to be, and my colleagues are not competing with me for the same rewards – there is no scarcity of rewards – rather they are sharing with me the journey that enables all of us to achieve and experience the abundance of rewards that exist for all.
For me, this is indeed a breath of fresh air and about five weeks ago my wife, Gimalle, and I decided to become part of this organization because of its remarkable, contagious philosophy.
I’m sure glad we did.
Till we read again.
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