I once had an instructive encounter. A person came to me who was deeply upset, pushed outside the zone of comfort by an external life event. There were many tears. In pondering the situation the person uttered an interesting sentence. “I never belong, I am always on the boundaries of every group. I work so hard and I try desperately to contribute, because I want so badly to belong.”
I resonate with this sentence. Because of poverty and ethnicity I spent most of my young life feeling like this. I wanted so badly to belong. Yet my strategies seemed to be flawed. For some reason contributions were not enough.
There is a potential benefit to being on the outside. The pain can focus your mind and you can come to a deeper understanding of group dynamics, deeper than the understanding of those on the inside. One such point of understanding is the paradox that we are more likely to become a part of the whole if we first become whole.
When we become whole our locus of control becomes internal rather that external. When we make a contribution to the whole, we do it, not to impress, but with authenticity. People feel the authenticity and put greater value on the contribution. When we contribute with authenticity people are more likely to trust us and embrace us. The principle is as important at work as it is elsewhere.
When have I felt that I was on the outside?
When have I become whole and authentic?
How could we use this passage to create a more positive organization?