Back in the 1990s Stephen Covey’s seminal work The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People took a radical view on personal effectiveness, leadership and responsibility and changed the lives of millions of people.

In the first chapter he demonstrated the power of Thomas Kuhn’s scientific concept of a “paradigm shift” by applying to behavior change. The idea was to show how you and I are conditioned by our experiences and in order to get unstuck and change our behavior, we need to see the world in a fundamentally different way.

He recalled an exercise done by a college professor. He divided a group of students into 2 groups and showed each group a different picture and then asked them whether they saw an old woman or a young woman when he put up this picture:

A New Workplace Paradigm

Do the exercise for yourself and you’ll notice that it’s simultaneously challenging to see the other view and remarkably powerful and impactful when you do!

As a young woman I made a decision to follow my then boy friend to live abroad. That choice changed my life in a way I could never have imagined. The world I knew was no longer available to me and I needed to change in order to adapt and thrive.

Think about a big change in your life and how the internal shift may have been driven by the awareness of a gap between your internal map and the reality of the territory!

The global workplace is experiencing a revolution and you and I are in the middle of it. How do we not only adapt to it but also lead and contribute?

This post aims at initiating a conversation to identify concrete, practical ways for you and me to stay effective and productive working in the eye of the storm.

How can you and I produce a future we can be proud of?

Let’s take the following scenario.

87% of the people surveyed by the Change Anything Labs (https://www.vitalsmarts.com/) said that they have bosses that are keeping them from getting the pay raise, promotion or opportunity they want. That probably doesn’t surprise.

What’s interesting to me is that nearly half of those same respondents also believe they’re in the top 10% of performers in their companies.

A pretty large gap – I’d call it a paradigm chasm!

And as a result, a minimum of 2 bad things happen unless something changes – first, you continue to lose opportunities (the loss is actually compounded) and second, a your morale suffers – making it harder to perform.

We know that people can and do have very different perspectives on performance. So how do we understand those differences and agree to do something to move our perceptions and our desired outcomes closer together?

Three actions that the Change Anything study found differentiate the best performers from the good include:

1. Get really good at your job. That means knowing your stuff and working tirelessly to become an outstanding professional.

2. Be sure you’re involved with mission-critical tasks – study up on where your company’s going and what’s important to its success.

3. Become the “go to” person or expert in an important aspect of the business and be generous with your knowledge and support.

Sound challenging? Probably.

And although these are general and reliable guidelines, the key step is to find out directly from your boss what he/she needs you to do to produce a more favorable perception of your performance.

Listen carefully and make choices based on the outcome you both need to produce.

If you’re interested in becoming part of the revolution in the workplace and not a victim of it, what is one action you can begin to take today that will move you closer to being assessed by others as a valuable contributor to your own success, the success of those you work with, and the success of your organization?

Written By
Barbara teaches and coaches leaders to achieve their most important goals. She lives in South Florida and collaborates with Vital Smarts as a master trainer and the Institute for Generative Leadership as a coach and practitioner. She can be reached at her website BarbaraHauser.com. and via Linkedin.

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