The Minion Revolt: Finding your Growth Edge

Ever since reading David Whyte’s book, “Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity,” I’ve had this unshakable belief that organizations have the ability, and frankly the responsibility, to show up in this world not solely to maximize shareholder value, but to unleash the unending potential that resides within each of us individually and collectively.

“Work is not a static endpoint or a mere exercise in providing, but a journey and a pilgrimage in which core elements of our being are tested in the world.” David Whyte

This conversation is inspiring to think and talk about, yet fraught with the obvious and annoying “how” question. How can we create organizations that support the pilgrimage of our identity as well as build a strong business pursuing profitability?

The Decurion Corporation, as well as several other organizations, are paving the way to what I believe to be a monumental shift in consciousness/awareness about the nature, operations, and potential of organizations in the world today.

Christopher Forman, CEO of Decurion, explained, “For us, pursuing profitability and human development emerges as one thing. We do not see it as a trade-off, and the moment we consider sacrificing one for the other, we recognize that we have lost both.”

Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey dive into the practices that allow organizations to prosper by aligning people’s strongest motive, growth, with the company’s daily operations. For more on deliberately developmental organizations (DDO’s), check out Kegan and Lahey’s book, An Everyone Culture.

These deliberately developmental organizations are full of deliberately developmental … people. When we are on a path toward greater participation at work – call it self-management, agile, participatory, responsive – we are on a path to greater freedom and responsibility, which requires a massive shift in mindset.  When we are self-managing, we have the responsibility to create our development path. It will not be created for us.

In exploring my own motives for becoming an organizational design consultant, I realized that when I worked internally for large companies, I looked to them to create a space where I could come alive every day and feel all the joy and potential flow through me.  When I realized this simply is not the reality for most workplaces, I was confronted with my true purpose: to support and guide leaders in creating the teams and organizations needed to realize this potential.

The Minion Revolt

I’ve been on a path of deepening self-awareness for many years now and understand the idea that within each of us are many different identities, archetypes, or characters in our personal life’s movie.  Mine show up as minions! I have all sorts of them.  The victim minion, the saboteur minion, the pioneer, the sage, the athlete, etc.  These are all well rooted parts of myself that have grown with me since I was a child.

Understanding these parts of ourselves is essential to working in a more self-directed or self-managed way, but is not an easy endeavor. I recently completed a Practical Self-Management Intensive program and will share a few reflections in hopes it might help you along your path.

The activity is crafting your own “Immunity to Change Map” (see a version of the activity here).  The process requires you uncover your one big thing, the biggest obstacles in your path to improve or achieve your goal.  We’re not talking surface behaviors, but deep seated mind-sets.

My experience with this exercise was both enlightening and alarming. What I felt was a full-on revolt of my many minions.  As I started to get curious about my one big thing, I immediately noticed that feeling of body armor that shows up when you become a bit too vulnerable.  Moving through the exercise, I would recognize my own behaviors, but still experienced resistance to writing them down.  As I moved to the Hidden Assumptions section, that almost nauseous feeling reared its head as I contemplated whether I could put the feeling into words. As a dear colleague shared – you can’t un-know these ah-ha’s.  The minions did what they could to stop me (doing the dishes, packing, checking email, going for a run), but the truth gave me freedom.

As a way of concluding this activity, here is my farewell.

To my Saboteur Minion, I’m tremendously grateful for your presence in my life and the protection you’ve granted me. Thank you for keeping me safe and helping me grow.  And, congratulations for all your work – you get to RETIRE!!!  Not only that, you get to retire with a full pension in the dream location of your choice!!! One condition, be kind to the new minion that takes your place to help me grow and develop.

If you are also searching to discover and overcome the “One Big Thing” that is holding you back, email me at [email protected] for a customized strategy to reach the next chapter in your career and life.