August 7, 2014 Leave a comment
“Well you can judge the whole world on the sparkle that you think it lacks. Yes, you can stare into the abyss, but it’s starin’ right back.”– Dawes (When My Time Comes)
Yep, so it’s starin’ straight back alright. The next move is yours. What will it be?
Like any art form, song lyrics are interpretive. And any art that evokes response must then really be art. Laughing, crying, reminiscing, or simply experiencing art as the narrative to everyday situations are all legitimate responses to art. Yes, even applying art to one’s business challenges and to corporate life falls well within scope.
While no doubt far from the intention of its authors, the above Dawes lyric struck a chord with me the very first time I heard it. Part of its impact is inextricably tied to the the word itself. Abyss. Even just to say it seems cool. This near-onomatopoeiaic word conjures imagery. The Dawes lyric’s personification of the word is irresistible to me as metaphor for corporate life.
When Your Time Comes
Sure, corporate life is about survival, but it also should be about leaving the corporate world a better place than it was when you first arrived there. Or at least it should be. It’s just that basic, and it is hugely essential to health and vitality – both individually and corporately. Opportunity knocks each and everyday. It’s what we do with it individually and collectively that counts.
If your immediate field of work life vision triggers keyword =abyss, then you really do have some options. One option is to run. Move as quickly as you can in the opposite direction. Actually, this may really sometimes be the best option. Another is to blend in with your surroundings or hide. You can elect to seek cover. Wait it out. Don’t do anything that calls attention to yourself. Beware- as you may find crowds in these shadows feeding organizational entropy.
Or get this one. You can make a conscious choice to add and/or otherwise transfer positive energy via collaborative interchange. Be bold, but in a good way. Build momentum toward a better tomorrow. Do things that benefit the collective and not just yourself. Make that corporate world a better place – yes, one conference call, email, or spreadsheet a time. Can you imagine what impact this could have if everyone consistently did this?
Return to Reality
In Corporate America, idealism yields to practicality each and every day. There can be no other way. It must be this way in order maintain the general order of the corporate form that is required to achieve business objectives. Like most things though, this is true only up to a point. At some point, contemporary business realities may go too far. If so, how and when did we reach this point?
Yes, hang around long enough and you think you’ve seen just about everything. Until you see the next thing. We all know what it looks like. On a daily basis, we may very seriously contemplate what we can do that could actually make a difference. Even the best of the idyllic lot need to pick their spots as they endeavor to fix what’s broken. One can’t fight every battle and expect to remain standing at the end of every day. So how then should we go about making things better?
The answer is all about touch points, footholds, and easier-said-than-done….not expending too much energy in the wrong places. Building positive coalitions of competent like-minded people at the level of the work itself is a good way to go. Employing Golden Rule behaviors and treating people at all levels of the organization in the way in which you would want to be treated is always a worthwhile investment to make. You can then see who responds in with like-kind ROI. And who doesn’t.
Building trust among those of the like-kind ROI persuasion encourages shared responsibility and greater safety for taking risks that promote beneficial process change.
The Abyssus Colossus
Within organizations, there often exists a critical mass, who through a combination of action and inaction, are the custodians of the abyssus colossus. They’re the ones that are “starin’ right back” – at those who seek to affect positive change. With street level facades that more than often look appealing in especially upward organizational directions, these folks seek to maintain the status quo. Seemingly at all costs. Acting in ways that shut down change-oriented behavior. For some, this becomes a full-time job and a career epitaph.
Of course, you’ll need to be realistic about how much change you can affect and over what period of time. For example, large public corporations tend to be more dynamic than smaller family owned businesses but are sometimes every bit as hard to influence. Cultural change may require turnover in key positions before processes and people can flourish. In private companies, thinking you can outlast an owner, family member, or other high ranking official who has all but surgically attached their head, nose, and/or face to the posterior of ownership is probably a fool’s bet.
Above all, it’s important to always keep in mind that ultimately an organization is the summation of its processes and people. This is where change begins or ends, so if you’re starin’ into an abyss, well….. the next move really is yours. It really is.
noun \ə-ˈbis, a- also ˈa-(ˌ)bis\
b : intellectual or moral depths