About that Green Grass on the Other Side of the Fence

Sometimes the very best thing we can do is to change our mindset about our current situation, and with that change, new options suddenly become visible.

Sometimes being smart deceives us into making dumb decisions.

A Lesson in Horse Sense

According to a post by The Tried Equestrian, Horses are considered to be one of the most intelligent animals on earth, due to their ability to learn quickly and remember things for a long time. They can also solve problems and figure out how to get what they want. For example, a horse may know how to open a gate in order to get out of a pen or field.”

Look at the horse above, straining to reach the grass on the other side of the fence.  He thinks that the grass is different, but it is not. The same grass that is on his side of the fence is growing on the other side, too.  Tastes the same… maybe a tad bit longer. 

Yet rather than enjoy what grass he has, he’ll press uncomfortably against the barbed wire strand just to get at something different. 

Isn’t that just like you and me?  Sometimes we are so used to what we do currently that we no longer appreciate wht we do like we did when we first started.  The newness is worn off and the routine sets in, and we begin to yearn for something different.

Cyclical Career Unrest

In my role as a coach I get to work with current and emerging leaders from some of the world’s top employers.  Over the last decade or so I’ve noticed a growing trend of dissatisfaction people have with their current employer.  People often think that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, only to learn that whatever dissatisfaction they had about their current employer will be exchanged for a different set of dissatisfaction about their new employer.

Even before COVID changed the world, voluntary resignations were on the rise as employees sought new challenges.  COVID struck and suddenly employment paradigms were tossed aside for a season.  Then as soon as work resumed (albeit remotely or via hybrid remote plus in-office), the Great Resignation struck, followed by Quiet Quitting.

Many people who left jobs found themseves a year or so later in the same mindset, dissatisfiled with their now-current employer, so they again move on.  This cycle is not sustainable for employers, and ultimately adversely affects employees who engage in career roulette. 

The Answer Lies Within

Ultimately, career satisfaction is driven by our mindset more than circumstances.  More specifically, it is our perspective of our circumstances.  Our mind sees what we want it to see, based solely on persepctive and choice.

Consider the classic optical illusion shown to the right.  Do you see a lovely young woman, or a sad old woman?  One image is positive and attractional; the other is negative and a bit creepy.  Most of us will see one over the other.  Yet with an open mindset we can see both.

Here are five ideas that can help us to see the our circumstances in a new light, one of possibilities and options rather than one of restrictions and bad outcomes:

One: Apply Emotional Intelligence to Adjust Your Perspective. Emotional intelligence (EQ) is how people internally the events of life. EQ can be learned,developed, and mastered.  Two key components of EQ are self-awareness and self-regulation.  When you focus on what’s wrong or negative about a partucular situation or circumstance you can become more negative, which in turn can contaminate your thinking.  Instead, focus on the positives and what’s right about a situation and your mindset adjusts your seeing things from a more positive perspective.

Two: Use Self-Assessment to Create Continuus Improvement.  Here are three terrific self-assessment areas to explore as you evaluate your current situation:

1) “What went well for me?” Beging with the positive first.  More things DID go well in most situations, perhaps exceeding your initial expectation.  Focusing on the wins first allows you to be more balanced when you consider what did not go well.

2) “What didn’t go as well as I’d have liked?” Acknowledge that you did want everything to go well, and it is likely that fewer thing were off the mark than went well.  Identfy the top two or three, and ask yourself why they didn’t go well.  Sometimes you’ll spot what could have prevented each miss.

3) “What will I do differently next time, in order to improve the outcome?” What needs to happen to each of the items you identified in area 2 above to create a better outcome.  Determine specifically what you want to do differently, and when you expect the next opportunity to come.

This approach will help you create a cycle of continuous learning and improvement.   

Three: Focus on the Things You CAN Control.  Every situation contains a combination of things you can control, and things over which you exercise no contol or ability to change.  You will come away frustrated and negative when you invest in changing the things you cannot cotrol. Instead, remember the mariners creed: “We cannot direct the wind but we can addjust the sails.”  By adjusting the sails the ship can be steered in almost any desired direction.  Ask yourself: in the current situation that might fristrate me, where can I adjust the sails?  By placing your enegy here instead of trying to direct the wind, you and your team will have consistently more positive outcomes. 

Four: Use Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) to Visualize Success.  Most world-class atheletes use NLP to improve whatever they do.  Neuro-linguistic programming is a way of changing your thoughts and behaviors to achieve a better outcome.  Tom Brady, Wayne Gretzky, Martina Navratilova, Michael Jordan, and other GOAT performers play and replay every game or match dozens of time BEFORE they set foot on the court or field of play.  The visualize their own responses to the challenges and nuances they anticipate and see themselves achieving success.  You, too, can tap into that same power of visualizing success as you see yourself achieving career success, paying no attention to the negative influences that used to control your thinking.

Five: Never Run From – Always Run To.  It takes no special qualities to be a chronic quitter, someone who’s always running from his or her current situation.  It’s probable that whatever you are running from in your current assignment, you’ll find something equally dissatsifying… or worse.  Rather, only run when your running is to something that is truly better than your prospects are if you stay.  That green grass you are so sure you see on the other side of the fence might be astroturf!

Bottom Line

It’s easy to get caught in the downward cycle of dissatisfaction that drives cycling through a series of unfulfilling jobs. The conditions of 2023/2024 have seen a growing tendency to look at the grass on the other side of the fence as somehow greener and better than what we currently have.  What you may need most of all is a swift kick in the attitudes, and a fresh mindset, so you can capitalize on the opportunity you have right now.

I love working with people and organizations who want to improve their effectiveness! Here are several outstanding resources that can help you and your organization to go to the next level:

  • Improving your (or your team s) management and leadership skills: Leading Through People . This acclaimed program equips participants in thousands of current and emerging best practices of leadership, hiring, and talent development.
  • Raising your (or your team s) selling and sales management effectiveness: B2B Sales Essentials (among the 30-plus courses we offer are ones on selling with emotional intelligence and storyselling!)
  • Conducting a more effective job search: Get a Better Job Faster

For the past 25 years I’ve worked with some of the world’s top employers by helping them get the most out of their talented people. Thanks to our clients, the company I founded in 1998, Boyer Management Group, was recognized by CEO Monthly Magazine for its “Most Influential CEO Award, 2023” in the executive coaching field.  Our coaching programs produce significant results in compressed periods of time.  Our extensive leadership development course catalog provides effective skills-building for everyone in the organization, from the new and developing leader to the seasoned C-level executive.  BMG boasts one of the most extensive sales and sales management curriculums anywhere, with behavioral assessments to help develop talent. I also help job seekers, higher ed, and employment services connect people to better jobs faster. To find out more, please visit us at www.boyermanagement.com, email us at info@boyermanagement.com, or call us at 215-942-0982. 


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