I’ve just finished reading one of my Christmas presents. Despite the number of books I possess, I still get lots of books as presents and they are always welcome. This one Wonder was a delightful young person’s book about a boy with a terribly deformed and ugly face as a result of some genetic disease.

The book was very positive in tone and, as part of that, it included precepts like: “Always try to be a little kinder than is necessary.” and: “Your deeds are your monuments.”  These are nice and good but, a little like the resolutions that some of us make at this time of year, not always that helpful. Why? What goes wrong?  We are genuine and convinced when we make these resolutions but rarely do we really live up to them.

The Dichotomy – what is right or what I want?

I think some of it is about the gap that can exist between doing what we know to be right and doing what we want. Imagine all those right and good and healthy things as being represented by this vertical line, and, indeed, it can actually feel like being that straight and upright when we identify all those lofty ideals at the beginning of the year.

And if you imagine what you want and like doing is being represented by this horizontal line,

then you can get a feel for the disparity or tension between the two. We try to be upright and do the right things but our feelings, our routines, and our comforts drag us back to the horizontal. We can end up feeling so disappointed in ourselves that we can think we might have been better off not to have set any resolutions in the first place. They only lead to disillusionment  and frustration.

Goals and Objectives but whose?

The same can hold true for Goals and Objectives in the work context, except that here, we have managers who have the responsibility and power to drag or drive people from their individual horizontal comfort line to the upright Company goals and demands line. Even if, in that sense, it is more successful, a similar sense of tension or  frustration can prevail. People get torn between the demands of their job and the organisation, and their own personal wishes and needs. Handling this disparity or tension between the good of the Company and the good of the individuals is the job of management and it gets done with varying degrees of success and frustration. But maybe there is a better way!

Doing what I REALLY want…always

Let’s go back to resolutions for a moment.  Suppose that, instead of creating that vertical line of all those good, healthy and upright aspirations, we were to spend more time working out what we really want. This wouldn’t only consist of the things we like, the comfortable things, the routine patterns, but would go deeper into what it is that we really want and is truly good for us. Then, instead of having a vertical line and a horizontal line, we would have a line that is constantly assessing and deciding what is truly good for us. Then, as if by magic, we end up doing what is right and good but doing it because we truly want it.

Best of all Worlds:

Suppose, then, that in our companies we did more or less the same thing. Suppose we refuse to go after the vertical line of what is only good for the Company in the sense of financial gain for shareholders and, instead, believed that it is possible and better to create and go after goals that are good for everybody – the new line – then we would have a whole new entity and a whole new energy. Then we would have no disillusionment or frustration. Then we would have little need for rules or precepts because people would be doing what they truly want to do. Then we mightn’t need managers at all, only passionate supportive empowering leaders.

Now that, to me, looks like a very good resolution or goal for the New Year.  Would you agree?