photo by www.stockmonkeys.com/
What’s going on here? Is it possible to be successful, but fail at the same time?
I recently ran a workshop for a conference of senior executives. There were almost 90 non-singers of whom around 80 were men. It was a difficult gig (they wanted something that would go down in their corporate history – no pressure then!) with such an imbalance of men and women and not knowing what their singing abilities were.
I only had 1 1/2 hours to create a ‘choir’ from this disparate group, none of whom knew what I would be doing with them in my session.
In the end, after a fun warm up, we launched into a simple round, and by the end of the session we’d done five easy songs, some in foreign languages.
As a model of co-operation, team-building and non-hierarchical structure it was perfect. Everybody had fun, everybody had been stretched, and everybody ended up doing something they had not thought they were capable of. They were still talking about it the next morning.
A result then. So how come I felt flat and not very pleased with the outcome?
I realised that, although I had met the expectations of those who’d hired me and delivered to the participants, I had not met my own expectations. In my terms I had failed.
I realised that my measure of success is for a group of people to make beautiful music together. I love hearing the gorgeousness of the final result.
On the way to producing this lovely sound people might feel empowered, feel good about themselves, share and collaborate with others, work as a team, stretch themselves, discover a new ability, make friends and so on, but for me, these are side effects of the way in which I work, not the reason why I do it.
Of course, your needs may be different to mine. It is enough for many people to see others expressing themselves, or to build communities, or to help people overcome obstacles, or to see a group bond – no matter what the quality of the end product is.
Whatever your own measure of success is, you need to be careful then when accepting work to make sure that the outcome of any project matches your own needs. Just because you deliver what others want doesn’t mean that you get what we want.
If you end up doing too many jobs where you don’t feel fulfilled, then you may as well get a ‘proper’ job that pays better!