I believe everyone begins a new role with an open heart and an open mind. With a positive intention to make a difference and to learn from new people and companies that we believe are doing things faster, more efficiently and with common sense.  Places of work that are better than our last. But over time we come to realise that the same problems exist there too. Same shit – different toilet.

We change jobs every once in a while, but we just end up going through a similar cycle, which looks something like this:

  • Start a new role with positivity
  • Attempt to have meaningful conversations with colleagues and executives
  • Discover dysfunction
  • Attempt to have meaningful conversations with colleagues and executives (again)
  • Get frustrated
  • Accept and adapt to the dysfunction within
  • Realise that your integrity and / or personal growth are in jeopardy
  • Leave

For some this whole process happens quickly, within a few months or even weeks. For others longer, a year, maybe two. I fall into the later bucket. I make excuses to convince myself I’m helping an organisation and the organisation is helping me to grow, learn or change. But the reality is that the larger the organisation the slower the rate of change, and my impact is minimal in the grand scheme of things.

The result? We end up spending lots of time in a corporate world of compromise.

Of doing enough to make sure we keep our job or get our contract renewed. Of acknowledging but fitting into the dysfunctional organisations and systems within them. Of knowing when something is not the best way or has minimal value but doing it anyway.

We also live in a world of complaint. One where we’re happy to express our disagreement with how things are (with our mates in the pub). To shake our heads and tut about certain conversations that have take place during the day (to ourselves on the journey home). To openly vent our frustration (on a blog post that a few hundred people will see)

Sound familiar?

Ok, now ask yourself this – Have you done anything tangible to try to improve your situation? Are you willing to take deliberate action to make things better? To call someone out or create an environment where it’s safe to call someone out?

As you get older you come to realise that the magical place of work with the ideal blend of people on a team, working conditions that encourage autonomy, purpose and mastery and where red tape is not found in abundance in the stationary cupboard are very rare. Even if it does appear it is often fleeting and as such it’s fruitless to keep waiting and hoping for that ideal to present itself to you.

You come to realise that real change, and I mean deep meaningful change, comes from within. It comes from our heart. And therefore it starts with us.

If you want things to change in your office, and to get a deeper sense of purpose and achievement from your work, you have to be willing to:

  • push yourselves towards that goal
  • open more conversations about the current situation
  • experiment with different ideas to reduce dysfunction
  • enhance your knowledge by reading books, going on courses and listening to podcasts about our given role
  • know our own truths and not be scared to share them with others
  • be willing to feel a little uncomfortable at times
  • to speak to and challenge leaders who have a greater ability to influence change
  • be willing to be coached by others
  • develop emotional intelligence and humility

The cold hard truth is that it’s only if you adjust your own behaviour that a meaningful change can occur. Others may follow or even join you on your journey, but it starts from within.

It starts with you.


  1. I spent decades trying to change, to improve myself in the hope that I would better fit in. I use to admire people who were skilled at playing the corporate game and fitted in seamlessly at work.

    Then I made two discoveries:

    1. I took up meditation and through my practice I got to better know myself. Deep down I had always known that I was a good egg. Not perfect of course, but the kind of the person I would like to be around. In time I began to forgive myself my short comings. I stopped beating up on myself for not being perfect, and for not fitting in at work. In time I began to forgive my colleagues too. Like me they were also imperfect and doing their best. I still didn’t fit in, but I stopped blaming myself and others. I began to accept it as one of those things.

    2. I started working in other countries. First Romania then Italy. Particularly in Italy I found that I was a natural fit. I am passionate and so are the Italians. I care about aesthetics and creating beautiful things, above all I really enjoy learning. I was a natural fit. They appreciated me and I appreciated them.

    This is when it dawned on me. Culture really does trump everything else. I have always been a cultural misfit in the UK, probably as a result of the fact that I grew up in an immigrant household. Our cultural norms at home were different from those shared by the wider community.

    So after decades of discomfort, I’ve now come to a new realisation. If you don’t fit then try somewhere else. No point beating yourself up. Find somewhere where you are appreciated. As long as you are half decent at what you do such a place will exist. You just may end up having to go further afield then you first imagined!!

    Denying who you are, and living with incongruence is no fun and really isn’t necessary.

    As an aside, I have taken up playing an instrument, and I have also found a natural home amongst musicians. Again they share my values and I find that I am a natural fit in that culture too. So you may not have to leave the country, perhaps you need to change professions?

    But an environment that suits you is out there you just need to find it.

    1. Author

      Thanks Paul. Appreciate you showing vulnerability and honesty here. Glad to hear you’ve found something and somewhere that feels right for you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *