One of the most difficult tasks for a teenager (remember yourselves) is that of breaking eggs to prepare an omelet. Still, although we get to know how to break eggs to make an omelet for lunch or dinner- at a certain age before 30, we might reach a much higher age without having learnt how to break “virtual” eggs in all other aspects of our life (personal, social, professional). It is true that not breaking eggs can create irreparable harm everywhere, but especially in business it can destroy one’s career forever.
So, why do we experience this attitude of not breaking the eggs?
- Fear. We are afraid to confront the truth, we are scared to support our opinion, we are horrified to face the person that will be affected by our actions. In other words, we avoid being assertive and bearing the consequences of it, simply because face-to-face approach is something we have not been taught how to handle. It does start within the family; but probabilities are to obtain a better “expertise” of it later on when faced with real life conditions out of the family’s “safety cage”.
- Lack of experience. Sometimes, not having come across a similar situation in the past hinders us from making a clear decision and being forceful enough to handle a trouble case in a decisive way. We prefer patience to energetic action, not realizing that this makes things even worse. Because things never change unless you “push” them to do so.
- Balance-maintenance. How many hundreds of times have you heard of the term “politically correct”? How many hundreds of times have you experienced the approach of “keeping a balance”? Both are widely used excuses to avoid breaking the eggs. Their implementation results to any status quo becoming stronger and stronger until it grows to be a tradition – “We do things this way here!” – that is nearly impossible to change, even if you try hard.
- Friendly relations. Most people find it extremely difficult to be firm and follow business rules with colleagues with whom they retain a friendly relationship outside of work. So, when something goes wrong with those colleagues, they won’t treat them in the same way as they’ll do with any other colleague. In one way or the other, they are adopting a favorable attitude toward their “friends”, which, of course, makes it unfavorable for all the rest. The phenomenal situation of two categories of employees stemming out of the entirely opposite way they are treated by various managers is present in many family businesses, not excluding large corporate organizations, as well. (I am proud to sustain that in my 26 years of working experience never has a friendly relationship impacted my professional attitude and vice-versa). At work, we are colleagues not friends. And because this is a really difficult stance to apply, unless you are really confident with yourself, do not make friends at work! It is one thing drinking beers with a colleague, and it takes much more effort to follow a professional attitude during working hours in the office toward this particular colleague (who has become a friend). For most people it is tricky to distinguish between the two on a constant basis. If this is the case with you, I would urge you to make friends with a colleague AFTER either one of you has changed job.
- Lack of ownership. It is more than obvious that breaking the eggs, first of all, means taking responsibility, being accountable for what’s going on, having a high sense of duty. You fight against an ineffective situation because you feel you have to do it in order for your team / organization to proceed further. Breaking the eggs will most probably leave your hands dirty with pieces of egg shell and albumen remains. You have to be prepared and make the extra effort of cleaning your hands while the others will have started tasting the omelet you prepared. If you enjoy the fact that YOU are the Chef, you will absolutely take a much greater pleasure from your omelet!
- Insecurity. This is such a wrong reason why not to break eggs. Only continuous development (knowledge, skills, expertise, professional maturity) can guarantee long term professional safety in the same or other organizations. Nevertheless, in many cases, people feel safer when hidden “behind the curtains”. Some of them would even prefer to go to work and leave after eight hours without being mentioned at all! “The more you are exposed the more you are in danger”, they believe. “After all, it’s just a job”, they go on. But the truth is it might reach approximately one third of your ONCE-EVER life! And in fact, the more you are hidden the more likely you are to be thrown out when difficult times come – and they do come often recently – because none will be able to recognize and endorse your well-hidden value.
- Comfort-zone. Although seventh, it is not a miracle; it constitutes the biggest and most usual category of reasons-why people do not break eggs in their professional life. As long as you have successfully passed the first one hundred, two hundred, three hundred, ten hundred days getting yourself better acquainted with the (new) working environment, conditions, rules, policies, colleagues, traditions, non-spoken-but-powerful regulations, you absolutely want to calm down and relax! You have the right to, don’t you? And then, you become the fiercest enemy of change, any change that would destroy the “nirvana” you’re in. You’re getting more and more self-indulgent, you do not agree with any improvement – although it is more than obvious you need it, you do not sacrifice any minute of your dull consecutive tasks to propose a new more effective approach. You have come to hate learning, that’s why you hate changes. No omelet, better ham & cheese stuffed in a sandwich.
These are just some very indicative causes of non-egg-breaking. We meet them every day, we tolerate them sometimes, we imitate them some others. And life goes on…
For sure, it is hard to break eggs to make an omelet the first time. It is becoming better and better through practice… like driving. In the beginning you need to think when to push which pedal, then it all comes up natural.
Even if chances are little to make a significant change after breaking the eggs, it’s worthwhile to try just for the experience of it. Really, we do not deserve a boring, non challenging life. We deserve some egg remains on our hands as long as this will ensure a nice omelet at the end.
Certainly, breaking the eggs has got consequences. Being assertive, stating your opinion, not trying to keep any fake balances, working for the benefit of the “whole” rather than that of some “units” does have consequences to be paid “upon arrival”. Yes, you “pay” for it, but most of the times you are also “paid” … with the unmatched feeling of positive contribution and self-accomplishment.
Breaking the eggs is a multi-direction approach: upward, downward, beside, all around.
It is the only way to make progress.
It is the hard way to obtain good friends.
It is the difficult way to gain respect in the workplace.
It is the only, unique way to feel and be DIFFERENT.
No doubt you can live without ever breaking any eggs and even being happy at the same time. Is this what intrigues you? Not me, for sure.