The Rockstar Dilemma

The Rockstars: the great performers in your organization.

For a while it was you. Everything connected. Everything was going your way.

You were on top.

You were the one everyone sought out.

You were the first pick to help others, mentor them, and get them up to speed.

You helped develop others.

But things change.

They began to rise.

They started to perform.

Now, they are the ones everyone seeks out.

Now, they are the first pick to help others.

A shift in Rockstar status can be disruptive. The shift can leave you feeling unsure and insecure.

“Is there still a place for me?”

“What will happen if I build and develop others, and I am no longer needed?”

At some point in your career will most likely be faced with the Rockstar Dilemma: When you move from the top performer to another role as others rise up and take their place in the organization.

The Rockstar Dilemma presents us with a choice that usually takes two different paths.

  1. We see our role not only to perform, but to help build capacity in others, and to share what we know to help them succeed.
  2. We see our role to perform as sheer competition, and anyone’s gain is our loss.

Choosing the second path is easy. We just perform, and perform, and move ahead as long as we can.

Choosing the first path is hard. We face the dilemma of performing, while helping others develop and perform, knowing that there is a chance that someday they will surpass us.

There is insecurity in the first path.

There is risk in the first path.

I hear the response every time I introduce the first path of the Rockstar Dilemma.

“But, if I develop them, I will no longer be needed. You are essentially having me work myself out of a job!”

My response is always the same.

“If you are the kind of leader who can build teams who are better than you, and can out perform you, you will never be out of a job. Organizations will pay you a lot more than you are making today to build that kind of a performance culture.”

When faced with the Rockstar Dilemma, let’s pick the right path.

Making Cabinets

building-cabinets

“It was easier when I was making cabinets.”

“Why, what was different?”

“At the end of the day, I could see and feel my progress. Now I just deal with people and it is hard to know if I accomplished anything.”

As I reflect on my own work. I can relate.

A lot of what we do is less measurable, less tangible.

It is certainly easier when you make something. It wasn’t there before. You built it. It now exists. You can see it.

Ideas, thoughts, managing, leading are harder to quantify.

But we are still making.

Building ideas.

Crafting thoughts.

Developing people.

Creating and expanding organizations.

“Maybe it would be easier to ask yourself a simple question at the end of the day: What Cabinets Did I Make Today?”

“What do you mean?”

“Think about your work now in terms of cabinets because that is where you started. Take your interactions with customers, sales gained, estimates written, and turn then into cabinets.”

“You are a little weird.”

“Yeah I know, but keep tracking. This will tie your current work to the familiar and fulfilling work that you keep longing to do again.”

“I can try. So when I complete four estimates in a day, that may be a cabinet? Instead of not feeling like I am making progress, I can look at that pile of paper, and see a cabinet?”

“Yes, making cabinets out of your current work.”

Maybe that is how we can all calibrate our time, our effort. Think about our work in terms that are familiar and comfortable. A lot of our lives can feel like spinning our wheels instead of Making Cabinets.

What Cabinets are you making?

What [insert your cool creative thing here] have you built today?

Go. Make a difference. Make Cabinets.

 

Finding the Creatives

The Happy Envelope (@thehappyenvelope) • Instagram photos and videos (1)

A new city.

A day of wandering.

Food, coffee, art, chocolate, music, more food, and walking in the footsteps of an icon.

But we are always on another mission in a new place: Finding the Creatives.

Discovering those people who are making, designing, and creating something new different and special.

It was the t-shirt that caught out attention. A simple message in the front window that drew us in.

Choose Happy.

An easy beacon or map for Finding the Creatives.

The Happy Envelope may be a design company that specializes in printing, invitations, and announcements, but they are also something more.

They are Creatives.

These Creatives teamed up together with a printing press from the 1870’s.

These Creatives are self-described “Owners and Creative Visionaries.”

These Creatives welcomed us in.

These Creatives told their story.

These Creatives shared their creation.

These Creatives inspired us with their work.

Going someplace new? Need to discover your own city again?

Try Finding the Creatives. Go and look for them.

And as for you Creatives out there…

Do you have an idea?

Do you have a vision?

Go. Dream. Make.

We will find you.

The Happy Envelope Business Card

To Sarah and Ty: Thanks for creating and for the experience.

Ty and the Press

(A quick shout-out to Yukon Cornelius who perches above the operation with foreman like qualities.)

Unleashed

Unleashed

Unleashed.

No longer held back.

No internal barriers stopping you.

No external barriers getting in your way.

Unlike an untethered state, Unleashed is when you are completely free to pursue your biggest dreams.

Unleashed means to set in motion.

What does that motion mean for you?

Starting that business?

Selling, merging, or changing the operation?

Pursuing that certification?

Taking that trip?

Quitting that job?

Finding that new career path?

Taking that risk?

Writing?

Creating?

Don’t mistake an anchor for a leash.

Anchors ground you.

Leashes hold you back and restrain you.

Go. Dream. Move.

Go. Be. Unleashed.

Work Life Separation

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We get a quick note on the weekend.

“Sorry to bug you about work on a weekend, but I need…”

Or a text late at night.

“Hey, sorry, I know it is late, but can you send along…”

And there was an email early in the morning.

“Sorry, this is last-minute, but can you give us a call right away…”

These requests were simple. They took just a few moments of our time.

We enjoyed being able to respond. It didn’t even feel like work.

There was a time when we thought we needed work life separation.

There was a time when we thought this divide was important.

There was a time when work felt like work.

Over the past few years the work life separation wall has slowly been dismantled.

Brick by brick, the need to be distinct and have boundaries has faded away.

The work life separation wall has become a smeary, messy, blended tapestry.

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When our work, and life is about helping others, both happen at interesting hours, times, and moments.

It doesn’t feel like work. It isn’t distinct from our life. It just is.

We live and work at weird hours when there is a need. There are no office hours.

We aren’t counting the days until we retire. We just live.

We live and work in various locations, and at various times.

We meet the needs around us throughout our entire journey.

There is no longer a need for the work life separation.

The absence of that artificial barrier sets us free.

 

The Illogical Path

We get jobs. We work in a particular field.

We move on, either by our choice or others.

We are faced with a choice.

We can follow the logical path. Stay in or close to our field. Connect with our network. Find something similar.

Or

We can follow the illogical path. Try something radical. Move outside of comfort. Apply the lessons and skills from one industry to another. Go work for ourselves.

During a recent breakfast discussion, as I listened to the plan for the new career, the new job, the new approach, and most of it was on the logical path.

They know people, they have experience, so they keep following the logical path.

It made sense. I kept listening.

“It all makes sense to me. But (pause) what if you spent 25% of the time you are planning to spend down the logical path in a different direction? What if you scheduled one-quarter of this effort down the illogical path?”

Throughout the rest of the conversation, it was fun to notice their body language and tone of voice. Whenever they spoke of something on the illogical path, they lit up. They leaned in, they were excited.

I shared a story about a close friend who is a writer. For most of their career, they found jobs writing. It was the logical path.

But the logical path, the seemingly safe choice, had its price. They were not very satisfied.

The writer friend recently followed the illogical path. They now have this weird hard-to-describe job that is cool, challenging, and new (frankly this job sounds super-spy like so I like to pretend that I am meeting with a spy when we have breakfast).

Which path are you following?

Sometimes the illogical path may be worth taking.

Good Lost None Bad

Good, Lost, None, and Bad

For some reason, I have been thinking about the hierarchy of certain things. Thinking about how to classify particular relationships, friends, jobs, bosses, employees, customers, and connections in a way that brings perspective.

Good describes things that are positive and contribute to you and your wellbeing.

Lost describes things that were once Good, but have left or been removed from your life.

None describes things that have never been part of your life.

Bad describes things that are negative and erode your life.

Why do we need this hierarchy?

Frankly, Good is easy. If all of our things fell into this category the rest of the list would not be needed. We would be and have good parents, friends, relationships, employees, bosses, and customers. By classifying the Good, at least we have something to strive towards.

The Lost, None, and Bad is where things can become less clear.

Lost can be hard. We had it: a marriage, a parent, a relationship, a friend, a job, a boss, or a customer. It was Good, now it has been Lost. The temptation is to classify this as Bad. A Lost parent, boss, friend, or employee is much better than a Bad one. We were able to experience the Good. We feel grief because it was Lost. Despite being Lost, we have the memories and experiences of what was once Good.

None is tricky. None may masquerade as Bad. Not having that parent, relationship, friend, job, or customer actually feels Bad. But None is not the same as Bad. None has plenty of its share of emptiness and loneliness, but that is a far cry from the negative destruction that Bad can bring.

Bad at first glance is easy. Bad encompasses all of the negative and harmful things. However, Bad is not satisfied with being at the bottom of this hierarchy. Bad wants you to believe that there are only two classifications: Good and Bad. Bad wants a more simple definition: If this thing is not Good (all the time and consistently and forever), it is Bad.

A Lost [parent, job, relationship, spouse, employee, customer, or boss] is better than None.  None is not actively destructive like a Bad [parent, job, relationship, spouse, employee, customer, or boss].

Does having a few ways to classify these things be helpful? How could separating out the Lost and the None from the Bad provide some additional peace or freedom?

Not all events that you currently face, or that shaped and define you are Bad.

Bad likes to take all the credit.

As we strive for more Good in life, don’t let Bad fool you into thinking that Bad is all that remains. Sometimes Lost, and even None, are not so Bad when they are in perspective and in their respective hierarchy.