I have posted a few times now about Bill Gates and the video he made regarding his upcoming last day at Microsoft. I complimented Bill on his self-confidence and his willingness to have a laugh at his expense. I also pointed out that Bill’s willingness to selectively reveal his weaknesses contributes to his effectiveness as a leader.
The story about Bill got me thinking about a current parallel in my own life. You see, Friday, May 30 was my last day at work for on a particular consulting engagement.
It was my last day by my own choice. I had grown frustrated by my experience with this firm. I didn’t think it was possible for me to “win” in that environment. I was feeling like a victim to the wishes of others around my role on the program, the clients request that I cut my outside speaking events, the funding for my role on the program, and even my long commute.
As it was happening, I saw this as something that others did to me. I felt victimized. Bad idea. As soon as I make this about others, I give away my power. Being a victim is weak and unappealing. After all, no one did this to me; I simply made choices and agreed to things that in hindsight I wish I had not. I was unwilling to go back and negotiate a better deal or make this a win for me. That was a copout on my part. A much more effective approach would have been to go for what I wanted.
Go for What I Want
To go for what I want, I need to be clear with others about what I want and need and negotiate the best deal I can. Instead of agreeing to something that was not a win for me (i.e. win-lose), I should have strove for a win-win agreement. I should have tried (it’s not always possible) to create the project or engagement I wanted and believed it could be. Instead, I settled for what the client wanted and needed and ignored my own needs. I didn’t invest the time and energy needed to go for what I wanted. I felt like a victim to the client.
Whenever we find ourselves resenting others or making them bad because they are going for what they want, we should look at ourselves. Chance are, we aren't going for what we want in that situation. We need to understand why it is that we are not going for what we want. This may be a lack of understanding of what we want – that is frequently my problem. It may also be a lack of courage to go for what we want, or belief that we won’t get what we want.
Here is what it would have looked like for me to go for what I wanted.
- I would have negotiated to work from home two days a week to reduce the impact of commuting.
- I would have negotiated to keep my outside speaking engagements and simply worked around them.
- I would have been more insistent about some of the challenges I saw on the program and proposed changes.
We are at our best when we go for what we want. When we don't, it reflects on us, not on others. It's true that you can do anything you want on your last day. But don't forget that you can and should go for what you want every other day. It is only by going for what we want that we stand the best chance of getting it.
Think about your own situation for the moment. Are you going for what you want? Or are there areas of your life where you are settling, feeling like a victim, and blaming others for the outcomes you are getting? What would you need to change now, today, to go for what you want?