I am in the middle of Steve Job’s biography. As I sit and read it, I am surrounded by Apple products—a Macbook, an iPhone, and now and iPad. This biography is both about Steve Jobs and Apple. The two are one and of the same. One cannot think of Apple without thinking of Steve Jobs. That is clear from the beginning and even when he was let go and let brought back in—his name, his identity, his brand is both that of Steve Jobs and Apple. That is the ultimate coud de ta of leadership—creating something that is part of you and you are part of its’ identity. Steve Jobs fashioned himself and artist that creates. He even had engineers sign the first macs. Passion, belief in doing something well, and creating an emotional connection between customers and clients. My iPhone was the first electronic product that changed my life and now I don’t know what I would do without it. Steve Jobs created that experience, he wants me and others to develop this relationship with technology.
Steve Jobs said many times, “Let’s make a dent in the universe.” He did. I used to believe that an institution or corporation could only have separate identity from an individual or group. I was wrong. So how can we take a lesson from Steve Jobs. At this point, in his biography he has just returned to Apple and he says that companies must reinvent themselves to survive. Well, we as individuals must do the same.
Think about it—if we don’t we get stuck. I went to college thinking I would be an attorney then I wanted to be a college professor. This became my identity—I was focused, dedicated, and passionate about becoming this. When I finally became it, I realized there was a hold other side to it. People talk about corporations doing “strategic maneuvers,” reorganizations, –every business and every industry does it—some leaders strategize, manipulate, can be tough, decisive, cut throat, and abusive and others are not—at some point it becomes about survival and if they are smart they make the insitution’s survival dependent on them and vice versa.
At 30, I resigned my position as assistant professor and had to figure out what was next. This Next path (pun intended) led me to realize there was a big world outside the walls of higher education. Corporations needed my services, individuals who worked in corporations needed me to come in make change. So, I re-invented myself as a consultant.
Now at almost 40, I am a Change Agent who works with people and facilitates change in both their professional and personal lives. I work with individuals, leaders, leadership teams and some times families. I remember sitting in my first graduate class and everyone went around the room to say what brought them there. Most of the students came from very different backgrounds, some from music, others from business and most not knowing what they were doing in this program. I came from Psychology and was hell-bent on staying in it. I realized at that point, I got a sense the Universe had something else in store—I just didn’t know what that was.
How does re-invent oneself? Have you been doing the same thing for a long time? What would happen if you changed careers? Are you happy? What other interests do you have that you have not explored? Does your job represent security and nothing else?
I have a friend who has worked at the same company for about 15years. She is fairly high up meaning like a VP level. She has seen upper management come and go and most recently was given a new role and now is a team of one. As I hear her tell me the story, I see the anxiety in her face, the denial of what is happening. She is being pushed out and the thought of this is so scary it cannot even be spoken. Now, I learned a long time ago—if I just blurted out—it sounds like they are pushing you out and it is just a matter of time before you are “performanced managed” out. She probably would have gotten mad at me.
You see she didn’t ask me what I thought. Just wanted me to listen and be a friend. So I did. Sometimes we say we don’t see change coming but usually it just means we refuse to see it because it scares us to death. Because the thought of re-inventing one self inspires fear. However, I have found the best kind of re-invention never happens intentionally, it is just putting one foot in front of the other and then suddenly you are on top of Chimney Rock or Cathedral Rock.
When I took a break from corporate consulting, I got my real estate license. Never thinking it was connecting to my consulting work. Then within 3months it became clear—I was facilitating change for people. I was working with individuals and their families about buying their first home or downsizing. One client was selling her condo to buy a 2 family for she and her family to live in. She wanted to leave something to her family an d the security of a home was the best thing she could do. I helped her do it.
Poof—my Change Practice was born! Sometimes, we just find ourselves doing something that is easy or just happens, the Universe makes space. I vowed to never fight or struggle again—clients will invite me to offer my services, it is not effective for me to try to persuade people they need them. When your ready, your ready and when you’re not, you’re not—it is all good and all a process.
Re-inventing yourself is a requirement not an option. Those of us that insist on holding static shut ourselves down, and push away our natural light that let’s others know just how bright we are:) Be ready—re-invent in 2012.