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Man, Machine, and Coming of Age

In case you missed it, April 19th, 2011 was the day Skynet was supposed to become self-aware. I, along with several friends and colleagues, had a bit of fun with it. The Terminator franchise, like most pop culture artifacts, can be a great way to bond with people.

As I thought about it further, there is something compelling about the idea of self-awareness. In particular, there’s that special point in time where one has an ‘a-ha!’ moment, and you have a clearer understanding of who you are. Following closely upon that realization is that something needs to be done; the current state of being is no longer enough.

I’ve had several of those moments, career-wise:

  • In 1996 I realized that I could no longer work in a toxic workplace. I took a pay cut in order to leave.
  • In 1998 I realized that I was no longer satisfied with being in a non-leadership role. It took a few years but I was able to become a manager.
  • In 2009 I realized that work wasn’t fulfilling enough and that I had more to share. That’s when I started engaging with the online Human Resource and business professional community.
  • In 2010 I realized that, after 8 years with a great company, it was time to move on.
If I didn’t have the moments I described above my life may have been vastly different from what it is now. And as a leader it’s even more important to be open to these moments. It’s this insight that enables a leader to speak up when things no longer make sense, and a new path needs to be chosen. The alternative, continuing with methods that are no longer successful, will most likely lead to frustration and diminishing returns. It’s scary and if it’s done right can lead to greater trust from colleagues, as well as a stronger organization. 
So becoming self-aware doesn’t necessarily mean destroying the world. It does mean making decisions, about who you are and what you want, and they can have long-lasting and far reaching effects. 
So tell me, when and what was your last ‘a-ha!’ moment? Leave a comment!

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