Know When to Hold, Know When to Fold

    July 15, 2003

Success in your career usually means having the abilities of a gymnast–flexibility, strength, focus and skill, heightened by resilience, perseverance, determination and practice. The ability to accommodate change often requires all these things as well.

John Sculley, formerly of Apple computer, said: “The new corporate contract is that we’ll offer you an opportunity to express yourself and grow, if you promise to leash yourself to our dream, at least for a while.” For those of you who work in the corporate world, mission statements and strategic planning involve all pulling together to realize a corporate vision, don’t they? What we are learning now, is that, important as this is to creating economic viability, it is also important to honor the individual in the company by aligning his or her personal goals and vision, with that of the company, “at least for a while”.

As companies are comprised of people–they would not exist without them, would they?–enlightened companies are caring companies and they demonstrate their valuing of their employees by giving them skills, input, and, the opportunity to realize their goals within the company. Unfortunately, there are still the unenlightened companies who fit the mould described by David Whyte in The Heart Aroused: “The hard news is that the corporate world wants us around while we are useful, but it offers no security based on how likable or impassioned we are…individuals…are continually forced to reassess their abilities to live with unknown and open-ended situations, to actively create their own life independent of the organization and to like themselves while they are doing it. ” Very good advice, no matter how enlightened your company is!!

So, with that in mind, how is your gymnastic ability? How is the balance you create between your personal goals and your career goals? What is your plan for maintaining that balance? Do you actively create your own life independent of the organization? Do you like yourself at work? How far are you willing to stretch before it becomes uncomfortable? Where are your boundaries and limits? Do you know what you value and how important it is to you? How comfortable are you with risk? Do you know your limits of tolerance for change, stress, rigidity, ambiguity, and uncertainty? Do you understand the depth of your desire for a life that matches your values? Are you willing to do whatever it takes to achieve this?

Taking the time to reflect on these things has much value. It prepares you to assess situations as they arise and create solutions that honor what is valuable to you. You also will be prepared to respond with more assurance and immediacy to those situations. I’ve heard it said that luck is when preparation meets opportunity. When you know yourself well, you are prepared to know when to hold and to know when to fold, to keep your life well-balanced and in alignment with what you value. Then you will recognize opportunity when it presents itself, too.

International speaker, coach, author & talk radio host,
Rhoberta Shaler, PhD, is an expert motivator. She gives you
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