Over the weekend, we introduced our kids to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. This classic story is still fresh and relevant, wise and funny. The character of Marvin really stood out to me as we revisited the story. If you think of it, so many brilliant people are like Marvin! Are you?
Do you ever feel like you could lead a more meaningful, interesting and impactful, if only you were given more opportunities to perform to your potential?
Considering your talents and abilities, do you ever feel like you are under the radar of people who matter?
Do you ever feel sad, frustrated, angry or disappointed because your brilliance is underutilized?
If yes, you may be experiencing what I call The Marvin Syndrome.
Marvin, a character in Douglas Adams’ “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” book series, is a robot with a tremendously powerful ‘brain’. Marvin “solved all the major mathematical, physical, chemical, biological, sociological, philosophical, etymological, meteorological and psychological problems of the Universe except for his own, three times over”. He (or rather, ‘it’) is bored and depressed, as he is not given a chance to do anything worthwhile and engaging enough for his capacity.
Marvin ‘felt’ stuck (as far as robots can ‘feel’).
The robot was desperate for something smart (for his standards) and meaningful to do.
No one gives Marvin the time of the day, consoles, challenges, accommodates or makes use of Marvin’s potential.
In one instance, Marvin gets a great idea and acts on it to save the humans with whom he is traveling. Immediately after the big save, though, (I won’t give away the details in case you’re still new to the story, and want to go read/watch it), Marvin … goes right back to being deeply depressed.
The lesson to ‘seize the day’ does not translate to the rest of Marvin’s existence, and once again, after a big win, he is back to feeling underutilized and unattended.
Do you see yourself in Marvin? If yes, here are some questions to start exploring:
-Do you feel that your brilliance is underutilized only in some areas of life or in all areas?
-When do you feel most empowered? Can you reproduce this empowerment at other times and in other areas of life?
-If you were to give yourself a chance to do something meaningful and engaging, what would it look like?
-If you didn’t wait for anyone to notice you or create an interesting opportunity for you, what would your next steps be to create engagement for yourself?
-Can you connect with other brilliant (in your eyes) people, and collaborate with them, or learn from them about using full range of capabilities?
Labeling this situation “The Marvin Syndrome” does not imply that there is something wrong with you if you are experiencing it. Much like the “Impostor Syndrome”, “The Marvin Syndrome” is a matter of choosing a perspective, assessing what is in your power to change, planning and implementing your next steps, and getting help from caring friends or professionals.
The world could use your brilliance.
More importantly, you most likely feel better when you tap into your brilliance.
How can you create more opportunities for yourself?
If you want to work on this together, my coaching calendar is open to you.
Alina Bas, PhD Candidate, Executive Coach
Develop sensible strategies for dealing with uncertainty.
NEWS and UPDATES
Are you convinced that leadership development and management learning is purely intellectual? See if this article augments your view. Please, take a look at our newly published peer-reviewed academic article in Management Learning (yes, it’s a brag – my first academic article is published!). Sensing: The Elephant in the Room of Management Learning.
Last week, in collaboration with my PhD advisor, I had a priviledge of delivering a talk on strategy for advancing in uncertainty at the Senior Leadership Development Forum for the DoD, hosted by US Army War College. The talk was based on my current research on strategizing in extreme context. The keynote presenters, General Votel and Dr. Erika James, Dean of Wharton Business School, were phenomenal. General Votel talked about multi-level relationship building, designing an information flow that constantly updates your understanding of the situation, and being a Happy leader; Dr. James discussed stages of moving through the crises for an organization. It was exciting to see that my research is well aligned with the ideas that visionary leaders consider most important in today’s volatile, uncertain, complex world. If you want to talk strategy for your team or organization, please, send me a note.
Do you have funding at work for executive development, and it is “use it or lose it”? Let’s put this money to good use for you! Please, send me a quick note if you’d like to discuss the plan.
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