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I had a great boss - he left, now what?

Tom says: Ken was my boss for about four years; he was probably the best manager I ever worked for. He was supportive, yet firm. Everyone seemed to like him; there was just something about his demeanor that drew people to him. He got things done; he was able to direct his team’s activities without being overbearing. We simply wanted to do quality work for him. He had a presence that was peaceful and inviting. He was a kind man, and people respected him. I was disappointed the day he announced he was taking early retirement. I’ve often felt that if he hadn’t retired, I’d still be working for him. 

The expert says: You experience these people in the workplace every once in a while. They are people to whom others are drawn; people you never hear anyone say anything negative about. They seem to peacefully go about their business and get things done without a lot of fanfare. Ken is a person who was close to achieving what is referred to in The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook as “personal mastery.”  “In mastery, there is a sense of effortlessness and joyousness. This feeling stems from the ability to understand and work with the forces around you” (Art Kleiner, p 194). We all have a personal vision for our lives and career. Frustration occurs when we don’t achieve our vision quickly enough due to our current circumstances. This frustration often translates into turfism, politics and power struggles because we’re trying too hard. “Personal mastery” reflects one’s ability to “have a sense of deliberate patience – with themselves and the world” (Fieldbook p 195). When this happens, there is a greater enthusiasm, which ultimately translates into tangible results.

Another term we often use for people such as Ken is “salt of the earth.” That term comes from Matthew’s Gospel, in which Christ refers to us as salt of the earth. “If salt loses its flavor it is no longer good for anything” (Mt 5:13). If we allow our current circumstances to diminish our sense of purpose, vision, or enthusiasm, we cannot positively change.

So how do we establish and maintain our personal vision in the face of the work we do?  

• Base your personal vision on God’s plan of serving one another, not selfish desires for money or power.

• Recognize the characteristics of personal mastery reflect the gifts of the Holy Spirit (i.e. peace, patience, kindness, joy) and thus, pray for grace to receive those gifts.

• Do not expect to achieve personal mastery overnight; trust God to guide you over time.