Why do you do what you do?, I have been asking quite a few colleagues over the last two months. It has got everything to do with my own orientation. I have been asking myself the ‘why’ question in different ways over the last couple of years. The first eight years working independently in The World We Work In, I did not ask myself that question. Intuitively I initiated the network and the executive development work with network partners and clients and I made little time to reflect more deeply.
I have made some big decisions, which allowed the workload to go down a little: no more RFP’s, less focus on volume, more orientation on my own professional development in strategy activation and top team development. But why? It appears to me: it is not a single answer.
First of all: ‘why’ pops up especially in mid life: My heroic self slowly gives away to make space for my realistic self. I am looking at the why-question differently. At first I thought I needed to radically reinvent: stop what I am doing, ritually burn a flip over and never walk into a meeting room anymore to write down the objectives for the day. I felt at bit bored, anxious to move on to the next big challenge either within or outside my current profession. Among colleagues I see the desire to deepen their profession through courses, writing books or even a doctorate programme. I could see myself move in that direction, of course led by big thoughts writing a best seller, or changing the world with new academic insights. My heroic self has not died yet.
The anxiety to move on and the heroic-ness of work have become focus of my introspection. Some clients have asked me to continue delivering a well-established programme despite my anxiety to move on. I started to experience what it means to work without the anxiety of an overachiever. Interesting new insights emerge. The impact of my work increases, as I am not on the edge intellectually. It allows me to be emotionally and spiritually more present and connect better with other people.
I experience that my motivation is ‘sinking’ physically: from my head to my heart. Its orientation is shifting from external (how am I doing compared to peers or my clients?) to internal. I have got something to offer about how leadership development can be delivered to be more human, more real business action learning in order to have more impact. In order to give that I need to embody it: be it, rather than just know it intellectually.