You are full of hope. You want to make changes. You want to make it stick. You are hopeful to make other people’s lives better, more meaningful if you may. You are longing for getting organizations’ not only to think about their bottom line but societies’. You aspire to make the flow smoother, to identify bottlenecks and improve upon them. You want to (re)build relationships that last longer. You know what’s the potential. You have seen the light. You are advising on some fit for purpose practices. You have seen success because of them in other places. You are specifically selecting them for the new environment you are in. You are not shy of calling out the nonsense happening in the organization, even if it’s not in your best interest. In true meaning, you see yourself against a whole lot of challenges and people in front of you.
You are surrounded by people that do not embrace the new way of working, thinking or even knowing of what it is1. You experienced the worst that could have happened. You had given orders to follow. You were not being consulted, or even being asked for direction. You find out micro-managers are being promoted in your organization. There are politics everywhere, and people are being thrown under the bus right and left. Everyone seems to be for their own. You found out people talk about openness, and being more transparent. However, decisions are being made behind closed doors. Terms like Agile, Kanban, Scrum, etc. become another way to push people’s agenda. They just label it Agile and get on where they want.
You become frustrated. You don’t attain that much joy anymore in what you are doing. You find yourself venting out more and more, especially in 1-1 settings. You are thinking of the famous quote, change your organization or change your organization. You are open about the challenges you are facing. You talked to your colleagues about your motivations. You shared with them a vision of how better the organization, and specifically your team, could be. You even opened up to your boss. Nothing changed. It seems that you have backtracked on many fronts, with no win at hand. You have adhered to many things. You have complied to many as well.
You are looking to find fulfillment in your life. It is not about work or life, it’s about all of them and more than that. It’s a calling that you are answering in this world, not a job. With all this happening in your life, you find yourself to be one of the first people that decide to change your organization. You are hoping to find your true calling, in which you can fulfill your destiny.
Before answering that call, I want to ask you to think once more. I know you have already. Think once more. What else can you do to make a change happen? Is there anything else that you can try? Are there any doors that you have not knocked on yet? There must be something. I am sure you could even come up with three things, and not one, as your options. What are those? You got excited about those new opportunities, you might wait more before making a decision to leave your organization. You still have hope to see changes happen there.
Are you in a similar situation as described above? Does this reside with you considerably? Congratulations! You are a canary in one of the organizational mines, and you might not know that. A canary in mine is very vital. It sings and cheers up all people in a cold, dark working environment. And most importantly, it will help them survive in case of a gas leak. It does that by dying first of suffocation. Canary’s sound will become quiet. Not hearing the sound of a canary, is the ultimate alarm for people to leave. It sacrifices itself for the benefit of the more significant good.
In this mine, people are looking up to canaries (read YOU!). You are cheering them up, you are giving them hope. You are flying in the dark areas of the mine. They are looking up to you for your leadership and guidance. Although you might not receive it or feel it very explicitly. They cherish you being there a lot. You are thinking of abandoning them?
Do you know what might happen if you leave them alone in the mine? Have you ever thought of that? If you are a true Canary of Intellectual World, you know that it is not about you, but about the bigger picture. Leaving them alone, is sending out the signal that this mine is no longer provides essentials for breathing, yet to operate in. Can you guess what is going to happen after you abandon the mine? More people are going to leave and follow you. Then nothing great, even good can happen in that mine ever again. People will try to find their way in the mine, with no guidance and leadership. They have to find their own ways. It won’t be easy for them. They might trip over in the dark alleys. They don’t even have the insurance of a safe place anymore. The people that followed you most probably will leave as well, they will find another mine in search of a better one. They will find another canary to look up to. And the circle repeats itself!
Canaries of the Intellectual World:
Find each other, and sing together. Greatness is the inevitable consequence of uniting. You can support each other, listen to each other singing, and taking some of each others’ notes to your mine. You can sing for each other, and be canaries for each other. Try even to find other canaries in the same mine, there could be many in yours. The mine usually have dark pathways, try looking there. You might discover even some canaries that don’t believe they are a canary, help them realize that!2
1– Some might call it Agile, Lean Improvements, Kanban, Business Agility, Lean Startup, Design Thinking, Lean Change etc. in the IT world)!
2– This post has been inspired by a very insightful leadership simulation as part of the Problem Solving Leadership course, created by Late Jerry Weinberg, Dani Weinberg, Pat Snipp, and Robert Snipp.