Lesha Reese helps leaders through coaching to step into their authentic leadership to better serve and support their teams. Here writing for Forbes she challenges and asks the burn question, Can you still have a Why in a large corporate?
The experience of waking up every morning and going to work in a way that feels in complete alignment with your soul and your authentic self sounds like a dream to most. In many ways, it’s the ultimate goal. This idea has been gaining momentum, especially in recent years with the growing popularity and relatability of thought leader Simon Sinek, who has given much-needed life to the concept of finding and living our why. He gives voice to an idea that resonates deeply and plants the seeds of possibility within ourselves.
While the idea of living your why sounds ideal, many people have a different reality. For many, living your why seems impossible to do while working for a business in corporate America.
All of my 20-year career has been spent working in or around corporate America. For 16 years, I was in human resources leadership roles for various companies and industries. I then spent four years in my own coaching business helping professionals, leaders and executives better serve their teams and organizations by reconnecting them with the truth of who they are.
I have seen firsthand the internal conflict professionals at all levels face. They want to achieve and get rewarded, all while longing for greater connection to what they are individually called to do in life.
It’s understandable that most companies want to create a culture of self-selection. This means that these companies are clear on the characteristics of people and leaders who are successful and have bought into the goals of the company to hopefully inspire people to step in, fully take on that identity and help propel the company and their success forward. People at all levels fall in line with this approach because it feels good to be a part of something, and they are aware that deviation from the company’s success is viewed as betrayal and disengagement.
However, being solely connected to a company’s strategy or vision without also having a deep alignment with your soul, purpose or truth isn’t viable long-term. At some point, the passion and flame will dim and then go out altogether.
It’s critical to understand that this shift from being driven by achievement and success to a deeper, personal connection and impact is normal. It happens to most people at some point in their career. But the risk during this very normal occurrence is ignoring the desire or draw to this deeper meaning and connection. When people ignore it, they may eventually experience a decline in performance, disengagement and, sometimes, depression.
Now that we know the draw to our personal why is normal and that ignoring this desire is risky, there is another reality we must address.
There aren’t many examples of people being fully connected to their why while also working for corporate America. There is a stigma around people vocalizing their own motivation and happiness at work. The belief is that, in corporate America, one’s sole priority should be the company’s priorities. It’s very one or the other: Pick your why or pick being solely committed to the company.
If you’ve been feeling called to figure out your why or how to live your why while working in corporate America, here are three things to consider:
1. Your why isn’t someone else’s why. A coaching client of mine felt like something was wrong with him because his why wasn’t about starting a charity or building schools in Africa. His why was about a specific attribute and bringing more of that attribute into the world. He was beyond excited to discover that one of the best places to bring that attribute to life was in corporate America. The impact was incredible, and he was more engaged and fired up than ever before because his focus was rooted in his why.
2. You can live your why in corporate America while achieving its goals. Living your why isn’t conflicting with what’s required of you at work. You can be in complete alignment with who you are and your purpose all while achieving the goals your company has prioritized.
3. Always come back to yourself — this is where your why exists. The biggest personal pain point of the leaders and executives I have worked with is feeling like they are losing themselves at work. They had shifted and adjusted many aspects of who they were to align with what the company wanted and needed. Doing this year after year left them completely out of sorts, drained and disengaged.
In these moments, immediately inject connection and energy into yourself by returning to the characteristics of who you strive to be at work, then make an immediate change to do so. No matter what, always come back to the center.
So many people don’t attempt to discover their why because of the false assumption that it isn’t possible while working for a company. Give it a try. Your why may end up being the thing that not only reconnects you to who you are, but it authentically connects you to the job you do every day. Ultimately, knowing and living your why on a day-to-day basis is a real form of freedom. read more at forbes.com