I’ve got a client (we’ll call her Jenny) who’s got some real people problems. She believes her boss is threatened by her and most of her direct reports want her job. Based on what she’s told me, she has reason to believe that these people would all love to see her fail.
But Jenny had another problem, and it was the one I could help her with most. You see, neither Jenny or I can change what other people think. We can only work on how she behaved when she was with them, to give them a reason to see her differently.
Jenny didn’t like this idea.
“Why is this my fault?” She asked me. “Why do I have be the one to change?”
This was a reasonable question from a woman who had earned her stripes. She’d gotten kudos for years and overcome obstacles to deliver stellar results. Obviously whatever she’d been doing until now was working to produce results. Why should she be the one to change?
Well of course she didn’t need to change. She could choose to leave if her situation was too unbearable. I asked her if she wanted to move to another group or company, and that wasn’t really appealing to her. I asked her if she’d ever encountered these issues in previous jobs. That’s when we hit the jackpot.
“Of course I have. You don’t get ahead in my field if you don’t threaten people and people don’t want your job. We’re a competitive industry.” She paused. “I don’t want to leave, I want them to change.”
Anything but a win-win is a no-win scenario between people.
It’s Not Your Fault, But It Is Your Problem
Jenny’s first challenge in finding a way out of this dynamic that has obviously plagued her entire career was in learning to see it in terms other than fault, blame and win/lose. Jenny (and perhaps her colleagues, too) had created a situation where for Jenny to win, they had to lose. Thus in her mind if she “changed” how she dealt with them, she was admitting defeat.
I worked with Jenny for a while to review her past experiences through this lens.
- Had she really “won”? Not really. She’d gotten ahead but some of the burned bridges came back to collapse at uncomfortable times
- Did the need to “win” stress her out? All the time.
- Did she know other people in her field who got ahead without having to make others “lose”? Yes.
- Was her “win-lose” approach working in her current situation? Nope.
With these truths staring her in the face, Jenny opened herself to growing into the opportunity to change herself in ways that were authentic, lower stress and effective for dealing with the people giving her headaches.
You’re Not Changing, You’re Growing
When Jenny saw her opportunity to change as growth, she shifted her belief that change meant admitting defeat. She realized she was doing this work proactively–for herself! Because she wanted to. In the end her desire to change had nothing to do with the other people. It had everything to do with her.
And this was the moment she gained control over the resources within herself to grow into the change that made all the difference.
Want to experience the tool that helped Jenny out of her situation? Learn more.