Ink on Scrap Paper – Words: Lily Tomlin

Whether you call it climbing the corporate ladder, the rat race, strategic career planning or upward mobility, it all means the same thing. There is nothing wrong with advancing, the key is to make sure you know who you are becoming along that journey AND you truly want to be that person. As Lily Tomlin points out be sure you do not end up a rat!

One of the greatest mistakes I see parents and leaders make is pushing people further than they really want to go. I had a leader of a very large and successful group talk with me about how to push and motivate his people to want more. After he described his tactics I asked him how the people let him know they wanted more? He said when he asked most of them were happy where they were and simply wanted exactly what they had achieved.

A friend of mine asked me how to motivate her children to be more successful and achievement oriented. She too had tactics she was using, and I asked her how her children told her they wanted to achieve more? She said they didn’t but she knew they had potential. That word, potential…so very dangerous when used for the wrong motives. “You have so much potential” can seem like a compliment and yet be received as a source of guilt, inadequacy or even resentment. If someone is happy with what they have and where they are in life, why do we feel the need to push them so hard? Can’t we simply believe them that they are content being themselves? There is nothing worse than being pushed into a role, job, career or relationship that isn’t welcome simply because someone else sees the ‘potential’.

Here is the South we have a saying, stop trying to put lipstick on a pig. You end up covered in mud and all you do is make the pig mad. Too many times we think we are helping when in reality we are pushing what we want for that person never truly listening to the desires of their heart. Instead we need to believe them, leave the door open and let them walk through if they choose because let’s face it no one wants to live with an angry pig!