Friday, January 8, 2010

Break Out of the Box

Seth Godin at Seth’s Blog has posted a couple of thoughts this week that have me itching to break out of the box. I love the part in “Without Them” when he says “People are rarely willing to step up and stop you, and often just waiting to follow someone crazy enough to actually do something.” In “Why Ask Why?” he reminds me that breaking out of the box often leads to improvements.

I tend to push the status quo at work, asking questions about why we do things the way we do and chafing at the rules trying to find more efficient and productive ways to do things. Perhaps it’s time to do this more, in all contexts, not simply to fluster rule-followers, but to provoke original thought and positive change.

Lisis' post called “Net Worth Vs Self Worth: The Passion Paradox” at Quest for Balance gave me the sense that quitting the rat race might mean that we aren’t participating in trying to improve it. Is it possible that the changes we want at work might actually be needed and that we are the motivated, intelligent, and passionate people who can help improve a workplace environment? What if all we need to do is to ask for the change we seek? There are probably others who want the same things. How can we apply our passion to these kinds of things?

In response to my comment on her post, Lisis said, “What if we poured our passion and creativity into improving the rat race experience for ourselves and for others? ... More and more businesses are realizing the importance of overall wellness and creating a positive work/ life balance (happy workers earn more and cost less than unhappy, sickly, or quitting workers)… Those who just wish their rat race experience was a little more exciting, fulfilling, and interesting don’t need to run off and try to be entrepreneurs. ... Finding ways to improve the workplace environment would benefit FAR more people than finding ways to help individuals go off on their own.”

How can you improve your context? What do you do every day without knowing why? (think paperwork, approval processes, red tape) What would happen if you asked?


  1. I'm reposting a comment from Lisis (

    "Hey, Beautiful! Oh, I'm glad you reminded me of this conversation because it totally needs to be explored further. I can't help but feel that all the "lucky ones" who are leaving the rat race to create their own little silos of bliss aren't helping the big picture. It kind of reminds me of Atlas Shrugged, where all the bright, creative, brave, entrepreneurial types just go off to their own utopia, leaving the masses to fend for themselves. There must be a better way to use all that talent and energy to improve, rather than abandon, the system. I just don't know what that way is yet, since I am not one of those talented, energetic "lucky ones!" ;)"

    I responded: "Lisis, hello! I'm glad that I keep notes as ideas come to me because I would have forgotten about this wonderful topic. It is like "brain drain" when the happy, productive, energized people leave. This isn't to say that none of them should. It's simply another option for those of us who need the 9-5 and cannot "free" ourselves and also do not want to be miserable. Fix your current context, find the tools to do it, ask questions, get people to follow you. Or, follow and support someone who has the guts to speak up and think outside the box. I think it's all about finding the right context in which to apply each of our unique talents. Thanks for the comment, Lisis!"

  2. I'm reposting a comment from Wilma (

    "In the end it is comes down to being in integrity where you are and with what you do and with whom is in front of you.
    And even if you are an entrepreneur, you can still make a difference where ever you go or where ever you are or with whatever customer or supplier you work with.
    Making a difference can happen anywhere and attachment to result is never going to be a good way to motivate oneself to keep making a difference. In the end it comes down to being in integirity with oneself regardless."

    I responded: "Wilma, I really like what you said about attachment to result. I agree that whatever we end up doing, it helps if the process is at least as good as the result, that we need to enjoy the time journeying and not just the time when we're done. Are we ever really done? Integrity is absolutely key. Thank you so much for your comment!"


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