Well, this is my real first post. Let’s see how it goes. It took awhile tonight to figure out again how to get back on the website and write something. But here I am.
Today, I wish to address a leadership/management issue that all good professionals have encountered or will at one point of their career. I am reading a book by Dr. Steven Berglar titled “Reclaiming the Fire”. In it, he addresses issues of burnout by highly successful people and how they occur. Obviously, the intent is also to provide some advise and possibly move out of what he calls the Supernova Burnout and move on with life, hopefully with a renewed freshness and zest.
One of the major issues he discusses in the book is what he calls the Goldilocks Dilemma. You know the story about the family of bears that goes out for a stroll before dinner and the little rude girl called Goldilocks. She enters their house unbeknownst to them and makes a mess out of it. The girl’s dilemma, in the story and while she explores her new environment, is to find what is comfortable or suitable to her. The chair is too big or too small, the soup is too cold or too hot, the bed is too hard or too soft. Goldilocks always finds the middle ground and chooses one of the three chairs, or one of the three soups, or one of the three beds that are suitable to her level of comfort. Dr. Berglar tells us that, as time goes on, professionals usually become creative and self-directed. Ultimately, though, everyone of them reaches a point where the need for eustress (positive stress or healthy stress) and the predilection to feel in control and protected from the embarassment or shame of failure achieve a perfect balance. At this point, according to our good doctor, the Goldilocks dilemma ensues, which is: Endure an already mastered task whose challenges are too cold (understimulating and likely to precipitate frustration and ennui), take on challenges that are too hot and threaten to disrupt self-esteem, or find a mechanism that will free you from remaining between two undesirable alternatives.
So, how many that are reading me have experienced the Goldilocks dilemma in their careers? There is no age rule for this to occur. Some face it later in their career, and some face it sooner. But sooner or later, all of us will face it.
I am facing it. Right now! So I ask myself: What should I do? How do I find that balance? Dr. Berglar suggests that directing people to resolve this dilemma by adjusting the challenge in their career to a level that is ‘just’ right is equivalent to telling them to climb Mount Everest by putting one foot in front of the other, planting a few pitons, and moving upward. In other words, people cannot transition from a point of optimal satisfaction and reward to one that introduces invigorating challenge unless they are forwarned about, fully understand, and take steps to cope with the way challenges can become threats to self-esteem.
So what does Dr. Berglar suggest? And what do I think I should do? I will let you ponder on this article first and in the next few days, I hope to have an answer, or a few, that may be helpful to me, and, why not, to some of the readers.