I’ve long marveled at the people who look as if they can work effortlessly for others. How do they do that? Why do I struggle with that? I see myself as a team player, an element that seems it would be a desirable trait for an employer. I love helping people make projects come to fruition. I work hard, am loyal and dedicated, and I’m reliable. So, why am I not one of those people who works effortlessly for others?
Maybe you struggle with that not-fitting-in feeling, too. It’s taken me years to figure it out, though I’ve had glimmers of understanding along the way.
When I started being coached on creating my personal story for the storytelling course I took, the rule was that the story had to be less than three minutes long. The story needed to be personal, compelling, and show my transformation. I have so many stories to tell that fit that guideline and settled on one part of my first Camino pilgrimage to tell.
I worked hard with the script coach and on my own. I crafted and polished the story for months. I learned the story and practiced it so that I was comfortable and fluid with the delivery. When it came time to share it with the group, my story went over the three minutes! It also felt stilted, not flowing from my heart and experiences. I followed the formula! I did the work! How could I have fallen short on the time and emotion component of the assignment?
When I worked with the script coach after that session we dissected the situation. What we finally concluded was that working within the time frame stilted my presentation. I could delete content but have an incomplete story. Or, I could go over the time limit, even by 30 seconds, and have it all come together in a way you could feel my story. I need to march to the beat of my own drum, breaking out of others’ rules and guidelines.
As I looked back on my life, the jobs and projects I’d had where I struggled were where I wasn’t able to — where I couldn’t — walk my own path. And the jobs and projects where I shone were those where I was able to and did walk my own path. I learned I can get the job done as long as I don’t have to do it in a specific, prescribed way. Jobs, where the procedure was as important as the outcome, were jobs where I failed.
With that insight, I’ve come to embrace my independent spirit, my need to let my style lead the way. It’s important for me to let my light shine, and work and speak from the heart. I do that better when I’m allowed to be independent within the team — or on my own.
Recognizing Your Drum Beat
What about you? Do you perform better using others’ rules and guidelines, or your own? How strong is the beat of your drum? Does it call to you, does it throb in you? And if you know, or are realizing, that you need to walk your path, are you embracing that and shining your light?
If you aren’t comfortable breaking free of others’ rules and walking your path, what’s it going to take for you to reach that point? I suffered when I didn’t have the courage to be independent. Do you? I glow and vibrate when I have the courage to march to the beat of my own drum. I produce better work and feel great about my contribution to the project, team, or person.
How did I get there? I first had to recognize what my issues were. Then, I had to embrace that understanding and reality. Then slowly I was able to break out and finding a way to get my path to work seamlessly with others’ paths.
I’ve seen others march to their own drumbeat more easily than I could early on. How quickly we come to that isn’t as important as coming to that point. If you want to be your happiest in life and work, then find the courage to march to the beat of your own drum.