So I left my job in Colorado with no real idea what is next for me. Over the past two weeks, I’ve had lots of time to reflect, to consider what I could have done differently, and observe.
I have lots to write about, maybe to dump about…who knows? I am reminded, however, about a very successful person I interviewed about ten years ago. At the time he was President of one of the leading internet companies and he told me the story of how he got there.
He told me about a roommate of his who happened to be very high up in a company, CEO even. Everyday this friend would come home and complain about how much he hated his job. My friend said to him if you hate it so much and you’re the CEO, imagine how the rest of the people feel. He told his roommate that he either needed to quit his job or get a new roommate.
He quit his job the following day. Together they sat down and designed a new company. They agreed they would not decide on what the company was to do until they came up with a list of principles that defined how the company would operate. They would design a company people actually wanted to not only work for, but to be a real part of.
They came up with a list of nine principles. That company was one of the first in the internet maelstrom and was eventually bought by a larger company which my friend became President of. I won’t divulge which company it was, but suffice it to say most of you have heard of it.
So I find myself in this same place. My integrity demanded that I leave my job. Why? Because what I have the spent the last twenty years of my life developing was being treated as if it were a card trick.
I can say without hesitation that what we did was magic. We performed and achieved by the time I left to an unprecedented level. This was not my word, but the CEO’s. Unprecedented.
So this is where I begin my list of principles for whatever I do next. How do I want to feel at work? I begin with magic. I can make magic. I know how to do it. I know what it feels like.
But here’s the thing. We all do. You do too.
The problem is that too many of us are raised and programmed to be magicians, to perform tricks, to deceive.
I am not saying you are taught to lie. What I am saying is that by settling for the magician’s trick instead of our own magic, we are deceiving ourselves…and those around us. Want to know why so many things seem to be going wrong these days. We are out of tricks. The magicians have had the curtain pulled back on them. The best example I can think of is Alan Greenspan. I was a devotee until he said those infamous words– “It never occurred to me that companies would not act in their own best interest.” Where was he living?
And the most dangerous thing of all is when we do the trick and someone tells us how great we are, how we fooled them. We start to believe in the magician more than the magic, the true magic inside us. No one really cares how the trick was done, they like being “WOWed.” And we like being told how great we are in that moment.
The problem is new tricks come and the old ones only go so far.
So my list of principles for myself and anyone else who wants to join me begins with this.
1. Be magic. Make magic. Do magic.
How do we do that? Principle #2
2. We see, we hear, we feel, we process.
By process I mean that thoughts and emotions work together. By feel, I mean we sense what is real. By see and hear I mean exactly that. We see instead of watch. We hear instead of listen. Watching and listening narrows what we can perceive because we watch and listen for certain things, things we’ve heard before and we miss what really matters.
3. Figure it out.
I heard an interview with Connecticut Women’s bball coach Gino Auriemma a couple of days ago. Gino was an assistant at UVa when I played there. Who knew he would go on to do what he has done. But it was clear to me that he had his act together then. I had no idea of his upbringing in Italy, a small house with no water or electricity. His upbringing he said forced him to figure out how to do things, how to make things work. And when he gets on his players, that is exactly what he tells them “Figure it out.” Not “Try harder.” Not “Deal with it.” Figure it out. The gap between “deal with it” and “figure it out” is vast. I cannot tell you how many times someone has said something stupid, something demeaning followed by “Deal with it.” And why do people have to listen to this? Because they need their jobs.
So I will end on that note for now. More to come. I have to figure it out. Feel free to add to my list of principles of the company you would want to work for. Feel free to share how you make magic. Feel the magic… or whatever it is you call it. Feel it outloud so we can all feel it.