The Uncomfortable Chair

It is not so much about the chair you have in the company, but rather how the chair fits, too big or too small? If it is bigger than you, congratulations! You can still do something to fill it, if you want. If for some reason you think it is smaller than you, your time has come to change; either you make the chair bigger or you look for a bigger chair.

Changing, modifying or filling your chair offers you the opportunity to leave what you already know to learn what you don’t, thus generating growth. And if you don’t want to change? This is also a possibility, but differentiate whether you are there because you are resisting change or because you truly want to stay in your chair. Don’t forget that as soon as you start resisting change, you are no longer completely on your chair, you are resisting. Resistance consumes resources and distracts you.

If you would like to know how your chair fits you, what should you ask yourself? What about starting by wondering whether you want to be happy in it. Or, better still, what about asking yourself if you really want to be happy. Does that sound like an obvious question?

Reflect on your professional life, your chair, your goals and achievements, your costs and your benefits. If in five years’ time you can’t say, “I would live my life in the same way” or “I would gladly live these five years over again”, then some things need to be rethought. To answer the question whether you want to be happy in it, try to discover what makes you happy. Is it power, control, respect, income (or rather what you can spend thanks to your income), pleasure or status?

Or is it the possibility of providing, having, accumulating or treasuring. Or perhaps the satisfaction of growing day by day in the daily struggle to reach a goal. Or the possibility of living life to the full, with its worries and its satisfactions. What are you passionate about? Better still, what do you want to be passionate about? Some motivations offer us the possibility of coming closer to happiness, others don’t, nothing can guarantee it. Finally, how does your chair fit you?

Now you can answer based on what you are really passionate about, not on the outcome, the inevitable indicator, always limited and very often short-sighted, but also on what you are passionate about, on who you are. Your chair is not alone. You and your chair are not isolated from the rest of the organization’s chairs. Every organization usually gives you the opportunity to connect with others, in formal and informal settings. Could the way your chair fits affect the way in which you relate to other chairs? Very likely. As a person, you are not indifferent to the motivation generated by your relationship with it. If you think the chair is too big, you could undoubtedly team up with other chairs, small or large.

Being aware of our smallness creates the possibility of acknowledging that we don’t know everything, that there is still a lot to be done, that we can’t do it alone and we need others in order to grow. If, on the contrary, we think that we are bigger than the chair, we run the risk of feeling that we don’t need anyone, that we can do everything by ourselves, that “we’ve made it”. Be careful, you need other chairs so much that it is only through them that you can define the size of your own. It seems that acknowledging that we are smaller than our chair, gives us the possibility of continuing to grow, aspiring to happiness and relating to others with humility. But, what about the others?

From your chair, the chair of your choice, the one you decided to take and live in, you can help others to develop and, in this way, help in the accomplishment of the company’s goals. It would be rash to think that you could serve the people around you properly if you are sitting in an uncomfortable chair. Being in the chair of your choice allows you to have a systemic vision, capable of feeling and understanding the needs of all the audiences with whom you relate. In the chosen chair, you are who you are, you don’t need to pretend or impersonate who you aren’t. Sitting in a chair that doesn’t fit you, invites you to feel insecure and frustrated, leading to stress and anxiety, which, in turn, will destroy your ability to connect with others.

The key lies in how you view yourself in relation to the chair and how you view others from your chair. To be successful, you need to decide how you want to view yourself.
*By Jaime García Narro, Associate Dean of Executive Education, EGADE.