Hello SOTGC community,
Here is my second post in my reading of Emily Bennington’s recent book “Who Says It’s A Man’s World.” I think most of us remember this story by Hans Christian Andersen about two weavers who con an Emperor into spending a ton of money on a suit of clothes that is only visible to those who “are worthy of their positions, and is invisible to stupid and incompetent people.” This leads the Emperor to strut, naked, down the middle of the street with no one saying anything, until one young child yells, “The Emperor has no clothes!!!”
I think we’ve all been in work, or even personal situations in life, where there is a specific mentality or credo being followed. Almost everyone acknowledges “off the record” that it’s a bad direction, either for the goal at hand or for the future of the company. Yet no one is willing to risk singling themselves out to state this fact and shed light on the idea that a new direction (or suit of clothes) needs to be donned.
There will always be occasions where someone will finally come to the front, point out what is glaringly obvious to everyone around them, and a new direction can be mapped out. But what are the risks associated with, and the precautions that one needs to take when they finally cannot stand watching the “Emperor strut around naked anymore” and risk being viewed as “unfit for their position” and incurring the wrath of said Emperor…? How much of our morals and virtues that we want to base our career and reputation on will be sacrificed if we walk quietly behind him as he “struts down the street?” And how much of our career goals are tied to the Emperor who controls the direction of the country (company)?
While I do not suggest standing up in the middle of a meeting, or hitting “# to unmute your line” on a conference call, and letting your superior know that you think they’re full of $hit…I do think this is a scenario that all of us will come across in our careers…and is interesting food for thought.
One of the quotes I came across in Emily’s book said: “Don’t anchor your happiness on goals…anchor it on virtues instead.” If you base the happiness on goals that are tied to a specific team, division, or company, which is being led by a silly “Emperor” you might find that you’re setting yourself up for unhappiness…which is never a good thing. However, if you base it instead on the virtues that you hold dear, then maybe you can glance away as your “Emperor” strolls by in all his naked glory.
I guess the point of this post is that, while standing tall and shouting out the obvious “The Emperor has NO clothes” are you needlessly sacrificing your political standing in the “country” or would it be preferable to let him come to that conclusion himself, while you go about your merry way and continue to strive for excellence, for quality, and for your own virtues and happiness? I guess the tricky question is, if the “nakedness” is suddenly affecting your virtues, thereby your happiness, is it time to make a team, division, company, or career change? Is it time to change your previous goals and ensure your happiness by continuing to uphold your career virtues, instead of being fixated on a goal that is currently tied to a man who is waltzing naked down the street?