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Dana Beal, International Speaker, Author and Coach

Make a Difference No Matter Where You Are on the Organizational Chart

By Danna Beal, M.Ed.
International Speaker
Author and Coach

See all this Month's Articles

Original Publish Date: December 3, 2019

A 2019 survey by Speakap reports that culture is important to 79% of US employees and that respect and fairness, trust and integrity are listed as most important attributes. Of the survey, 55% said they would leave their current job for a better workplace culture. Organizational culture is the essential element in meeting healthcare goals, according to Stephen Swensen, MD, Professor Emeritus at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Senior Fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. “Culture, more than anything else, drives performance,” he says. According to the NEJM Catalyst Insights Reports, culture within healthcare organizations is changing for the better with 59% moving in the right direction, while 41% are remaining with status quo or going in the wrong direction. And yet, 70% of employees are disengaged in the workplace, according to Gallup and other polls.

Over the years I have worked with people in many industries, including healthcare, high-tech, professional services and the federal government--to name a few. Though most people like their jobs or career choice, a common underlying theme is stress, anxiety, lack of work life balance, insensitive leaders and unreasonable pressure and expectations. People describe feelings of not being heard, not being valued, not being respected and most of all, not believing things can improve. Many people are feeling resigned to that is just the way it is, and they will endure while they are secretly looking for something else. Everyone at all levels describe fear of rejection, humiliation, failure or not being included, wanted or loved.

Relationships in the Workplace

Workplace cultures are comprised of relationships. When there are blocks, friction, misunderstandings, stress and conflict, the culture is dysfunctional or even toxic—the opposite of what is needed to drive performance. Currently, blame and its counterpart, self-righteousness, are rampant in today’s workplace. People stay in unhappy workplaces, feeling like victims and often viewing their workplaces as invisible prisons. They need their benefits and salary and often see no options. Gossip, blame, one-upmanship, territorialism, negativity, and drama are the result.

However, I believe that the disparities and disruptions in the workplace can actually lead to personal, unexpected and deep insights to authentic power and freedom for anyone, at any level. The courage to face your own hidden fear is the portal to your inner strength and wisdom. As Leonard Cohen famously wrote, “There is a crack, a crack in everything…That's how the light gets in.”

Unraveling workplace drama

Whether I work with individuals or groups, there is always a dramatic story about everything that is happening in the workplace. The drama feels real because everyone believes it, and most feel dependent on their job. Someone new entering your workplace gradually becomes part of the culture and soon becomes indoctrinated. Like you, they learn who are the power players and who has what role—on the organizational chart and on the “unspoken” chart. Cultures that lack trust, respect and compassion cause fear and insecurity to breed.

You can be the one who makes a difference in the workplace by, first, having the courage to face your own insecurities and feared weaknesses. As you align with your authentic power, you can be the one to start the unraveling of the drama. The drama in the workplace is dependent on reactions and counter-reactions by everyone. When you react, you validate the drama for both you and the other. Here is the secret power--when you stop playing your part in the game, you are free.

Freedom from Fear

The freedom from fear allows you to take a stand for truth, honor others, operate with strength of character but gentleness of heart. You are an enlightened leader, no matter what your title. You are able to innovate, inspire, create and lead from wisdom and imagination. As you free yourself, you help others find freedom.

When you are free you can no longer be controlled, and you are open to new opportunities within or without the current workplace. You will not blame others for your self-imposed prison and instead, be a clear voice of wisdom and strength. Freedom is a state of mind—not the circumstances of your workplace or any of your relationships. Jim Morrison said it well. “Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.”

Give Up the Barriers to Authentic Power and Freedom

Notice and look within for an answer when you fall into these traps of the ego to prevent you from awakening.

  1. Judgment
    Question judgment and ask yourself if it is really the truth or a story you made up. If you are willing to consider another possibility, you will discover that your judgment is from your unique filter, an unconscious view based on your past. If love is the sunshine, then judgment is the cloud that obscures it.
  2. Guilt
    Most guilt is self-imposed and causes you to unconsciously do things in an attempt to exonerate yourself. Practice self-forgiveness and you will then be able to forgive others. Question your motives and if they are directed by guilt, then it is not from the heart.
  3. Self-criticism
    Do not disavow yourself by being highly critical. It is an epidemic to judge ourselves harshly. Mistakes are part of our growth and development. There is no such thing as perfect.
  4. Blame and self-righteousness
    Both are companion strategies to deflect personal responsibility. When you blame others, you back them into a corner of defense. When you claim you are a victim, you are saying you are innocent and the other is guilty. Give up being a victim.
  5. Controlling others
    When you try to control others, it is really a manipulation to make yourself feel safe or righteous. You breed resentment and you are not allowing others to be responsible for their choices.
  6. Seeking admiration and external validation
    We live in a time of idolatry. Artificial power derived in fame, money, material things can disappear or be removed in an instant. Authentic power and freedom stem from alignment with the power that sustains all life, the source of all creation, Universal Love. Authentic power is internal, unchangeable and eternal.

As you recognize your own self-sabotaging strategies, you will free yourself to make a difference in your workplace, your family, your community and the world. Fear is already in you and you are the one who can release it. It is not caused by your boss, your organization, or anyone else.

“And if it is fear you would dispel, the seat of that fear is in your heart and not in the hand of the feared.” The Prophet by Kahil Gibran

Danna Beal, M.Ed., lives in the Seattle, WA area where she is an international speaker, author, retreat/workshop leader, and executive coach. She has spoken to thousands of businesses and conferences and has been on countless radio shows, podcasts, and webinars discussing “Enlightened Leadership” and “Workplace Culture” based on her book, “The Extraordinary Workplace: Replacing Fear with Trust and Compassion.” Her audiences and clients have included: Seattle Science Foundation--Spine Surgeons Grand Rounds, Kaiser Permanente Grand Rounds, Oakland, CA, AHRA, Orlando, FL, Federal Aviation Administration, Overlake Hospital Perioperative Conference, Radia, numerous physician practices and hospitals. Her website is