On The Avengers vs Chuck Norris
The way the world of work is set up, there is constant pressure to put on a show — to “package” yourself, your skills, your experience and talent so that you stand out from the crowd. All these, we’re told, we need to do to improve our chances in a dog-eat-dog world. There is a spectrum of arguments to be made here, between hard-nosed realists who embrace this and try to live with it, and starry-eyed idealists who opt to swim against the tide and be non-conformist.
I lean towards starry-eyed. Here’s why.
There are very few problems worth solving today that can be solved by one person.
The narrative that has been built around the Lone Ranger, visionary, superhero founder/leader/employee is more a myth of our making than anything else. It has no reference in the agrarian and industrial societies of the past and has only been able to take footing in the knowledge economy. For centuries, collaboration has always been the path forward. So my question is, if we absolutely need the inputs, perspectives, time, energy and skills of others to individually and collectively get ahead, why do we continue to live as if we don’t?
Quick test: When was the last time you celebrated a colleague at work genuinely…that wasn’t part of some HR Scheme to “encourage engagement”? When was the last time you admired the work of a peer and gave them credit for doing such a fantastic job? When was the last time you were inspired or motivated by anyone who wasn’t a superhero, alpha male type figure? If you are like me, you are probably struggling a little to answer these questions (If you’re not, you are rare, in my circles at least). You know why? Because all your attention has been on you! How you look, how you sound, if your presentation was great, if you responded properly to that email and if you tackled the question at that Executive meeting properly.
While these are natural impulses, we need to be more intentional about shifting our focus outward from time to time.
We fear that if we willingly put the spotlight on somebody else, it would never come back to us.
But the truth is it is not as scarce a resource as you think. It will come back, usually in a higher measure. It takes on brave act to set it in motion. The world we live in doesn’t really need more superheroes, it needs better teams. Even the superheroes are teaming up (Avengers, Justice League, X-Men? They even seem to get it more than we do!) Focusing on others fosters safety and collaboration.
Take the time to truly recognise, appreciate and celebrate somebody else.