Have you ever followed a rule or incentive of a company you worked for, even though your inner wisdom said it wasn’t right? I would sure like to hear from anyone who could definitively say no! In fact, I think many of us have worked in organizations where we chose to put aside our wisdom, every single day, to follow questionable requirements of a manager or corporation.
At the recommendation of a friend, I watched a talk (shown below) on this subject, by Barry Schwartz, posted at TED.com. The talk was titled “The Loss of Wisdom.” Just a few minutes after starting this video, I knew he was talking about what almost killed me, what kills a lot of us. He was talking about the rules and incentives which bind us, which sometimes prevent us from doing what we know is moral and right.
Let me give you an example. A few years ago, I worked for a top corporation. It was great, until a new manager was bolted in from Scotland. She explained that everything had to be done her way! I was required to do training on topics I had no interest in or knowledge about. As a team leader, I saw that we were all being deflated by this dictatorial style of management. I knew this was not the way to give the best quality services to our clients or to the organization. Yet I did nothing. I feared losing my job. So, I followed the rules, and complained behind my manager’s back. I stopped paying attention to the good that my organization represented. I gave up on my commitment to do the right thing for the right reasons.
I recommend you watch this very provocative talk by Schwartz. In the event you have problems playing it, just go to Ted.com and search for it. If you are unable to watch it right now, you can continue the article below and watch the video later.
As said by Schwartz at the end of the video, “this type of wisdom [the right thing at the right time, for the right reasons] is within the grasp of each and every one of us, if only we start paying attention. Paying attention to what we do, to how we do it, and perhaps most importantly, to the structure of the organization within which we work, so as to make sure that it enables us and other people to develop wisdom, rather than having it suppressed.”
As an HR professional, I see countless people give up on their wisdom – and even forget they have it. They just do whatever they are told, without motivation and energy.
I am totally committed to reclaiming my virtue, my wisdom. I therefore decided that I would no longer bury the person inside of me, the woman who has to speak up for what is right, who has to follow my sometimes very strange creative wisdom. For years I have tried to give much of myself to help people use technology to enhance their learning; but my commitment was not the commitment of the organizations I worked for. Yet that wisdom inside could not lose sight of that goal. So as soon as I was given the go ahead to work, following the stroke, I submitted a proposal to the government for the development of a business focused on web-based learning and information services. I did not meet all the qualifications for the program, but my spirit said to apply anyway. I surprisingly got in. I have being following the voice inside me (my inner wisdom) and it’s paying off big time!
I work for myself, so I can more easily be committed to honoring my wisdom and follow rules only if it is the right thing to do. What about your business, job or life? Can you be true to your virtue, even if rules require you to do something else? Is there a risk in holding steadfast to what you know is true inside?