The story of our lives, each one of us, is nothing more then the endless trials, errors, success and failures that each one of us sets ourselves up either at individual levels or at a level of being part of some team.Join me here as we explore this space and try to understand what is the real essence of being in the “I” or the “WE” and when should we be where and what happens when that works for us or against us! So here we go!
When we are kids and going through our school lives- in the very early stages, even as we are still trying to make sense of what and who we are, we are told about the value of being assertive and being vocal and visible in different ways time and again! As you grow a little wiser and learn to flex and stretch you ability to self-assert through ways which are allowed and not, you soon start to get a dose on the relevance and value of “social care”, and how the “WE” is greater and stronger than the “I” kind of a parable and well sure enough, falling prey to the social conformation bias with the remining innocence that one may have- pretty soon you start to say “ok” to adjust play second or third or no fiddle at all simply to conform to the idea and belief that “WE” is more important than the “I”!
If you thought this piece of crap of being compelled to choose and adopt to either the “I” or the “WE” ends with your education, well sadly it doesn’t! The extent and the intensity with which the constant coercion continues goes on to permanently damage every bit of “I” and every attribute of the quality of collaboration that can be extended into the “WE”! even as people step into the corporate world to serve a business or step into the social arena to serve humanity! We actually end up in a world where damaged Individuals collaborate to collectively screw up the world further together and with time the world goes into that bit deeper rut and keeps getting nudged into spaces of being beyond repair in different areas at different times! This is not because there is a flaw with the “I” or the “WE” approach, the manifestations of all humankind problems are because the inability to know when is the time to allow the “I” and when to allow the “WE” to take charge!
At one stage of life you are told that “I” matters and soon enough you are told that “WE” matters, well the real thing is that both of these matter in the context of what the purpose is and what is at stake! There is no way of looking at life with an approach of either “I” or “WE”, it has to always be a blended approach of being “I” and “WE” in response to what stands in front of you to challenge and what is that you are supposed to create or offer to the world and the social context around you! Let me explain! As you embark to pursue your career in the initial days and years, sure enough you would be appreciated or reprimanded based on your performance more than the team;s performance, this is the space where your “I” approach is being evaluated and improved or rather you are made to improve so that business goals are met. Something similar to your primary schooling! As you grow and mature in the chosen job or vocation, soon enough, if your “I” has been empowering and meaningful, you will be given the responsibility to lead a few and soon enough you begin to get answerable not only for your standalone “I” but also for the collective “WE” that you represent and are accountable for! Unless you have understood and mastered your “I” you will fail and falter with the “WE” each and every time!
When it comes to the larger play of society- perhaps representing a community/society or a nation, the power of “WE” and the promise of “WE” over-rides whatever your “I” may be! The corporate world is pretty calibrated and metric driven, your “I” will only be given so many chances and as soon as you begin to falter and fail even the “WE” camouflage will not be able to rescue you from the eminent ejection- this is the space where CXOs begin to get fired and asked to leave! When it comes to the world where public support is garnered through competing narratives and promises and stories of hope, unless the people and sensitive elements do not see value in the collective “WE” they will not rally behind you, no matter how iconic the story of your “I” is and this is the real truth- the trial by fire when it comes to wanting to be a public figure- the constant scrutiny and evaluation is often too much then one can handle and with time those who can’t often fade away form public memory and the glitz simple because the “WE” did not accept or need the “I” or the “I” has already served it’s purpose and will be ejected like an idea whose time is bygone!
People often spend their whole life, trying to adjust their “I” to the “WE” and vice versa , not realizing ever that the real trick is to allow both of them to be there and evolve with the dynamism of the contexts around! The greatest fallacy is perhaps the idea to exchange or trade away your “I” for the “WE” or the other way around, simply because you need both of them at different times on an ongoing basis and the audience for both of them are almost always different and you then have a choice to choose which audience is more meaningful and valuable to you over the other and for what frame of time! It is only when you are able to apply this principle that you will find it easy to be self-asserting and open to ideas and wanting to lead others’ ideas with as much as ease as those of your own!
The real essence of life is about finding a progressive equilibrium with regards to applying the “I and the “WE” and knowing when to deploy which of these and for how long! History is replete with examples when Individuals have been iconic and when they have failed miserably, likewise there are examples of achieving greatness through group-think and precipitating disasters through it! The only real way to go about is to embrace the “I” and the “WE” at the right time to the right extent and ensuring you allow both of them to develop and thrive as the dynamic times around us constantly demand a new version and potent “I” and “WE” with every new sunrise!
I leave you here with these thoughts, urging you to take a pause and reflect what is that you have been deploying more? The “I” or the “WE” and what has worked and what has not!
Ciao for now, will be back soon with another one! Until then stay in the now and use what you must, your “I” and “WE” are as unique as who you are!