“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” This is what the great philosopher Aristotle tells us and is something that we’ve all heard before, but do we know what it means?
What does it mean to know yourself?
It’s a very scary question if you have any idea who you are. Not claiming that I do, but I fear knowing because it is easier to be a fool than to be wise. But enough philosophy, I would like to attach Aristotle’s quote to the workplace. Do you desire to be wise in the workplace? Well, you better know who you are then!
Having had the pleasure of being part of corporate America for years, I have been able to identify the same people that Aristotle himself speaks of in his greater works of which I will not bore you with because you can google it after you’ve read my own interpretation.
In the corporate world I have seen and experienced first of all myself:
THE SOWER – I believe that believing and sowing seeds, even when the cold winds and elements of this world tries to keep me from it, can make any company or corporation succeed. Sowing energy and time into special projects, stretch assignments and out of the ordinary situations that most employees do not see the worth of investment in. Be mindful though, most seeds do not sprout, and even if they do, they’ll be labeled as weeds and quickly be torn out of the growing ground. A sower in the corporate world is a type of person that ignites growth and hope. The sower waters and tends to the garden and finds passion in seeing growth in others as well as in themselves. A sower personality will pluck themselves if bound by a place or organization that, in turn, doesn’t allow them to sprout and grow.
THE REAPER – The reaper is a scary but successful person in corporations today. And against what the title may make you feel, the reaper isn’t a bad person by definition. A reaper is a doer, they understand when it’s time to take credit or give up. The reaper smells the fruit in corporations, I’ve seen it myself. Many years ago I had a manager who I would call a “reaper” because he plucked me from my “humble” position and considered me ripe and promoted me to what most would define as an “unworthy” position. He took me well and above the steps of the corporate ladder. This, in my opinion is what reapers ought to do, smell ambition and ability and pluck it even if the fruit seems not ripe to others. On the other hand, a reaper can also do the opposite, not reap and allow good fruit to rot. I believe we all know what that means in corporations today, and sadly we see too many good fruit rot because of politics and policies. But let’s not park there, the third and last personality is someone that we all love to hate, and hate to love.
THE EATER – I know, don’t be scared, but don’t deny it. If you’ve had any kind of corporate employment you cannot deny the existence of the eater, even if we wanted to. The eater is a person who appears hungry to see you grow and develop, they seem to care, and you actually begin to trust them. And sometime after that, before anyone else has a taste, they gobble you up and chew you up as if you’re nothing at all. These are the type of co-workers that speak a good line and then throw you under the bus: the managers that say they care about your development but would rather have you leave the company and not leave them: the kind of employees who “brown” nose but bad mouth you behind your back. I think you get the point so I’ll stop there.
In conclusion, if knowing yourself is the beginning of wisdom, then we much first define ourselves before we categorize others. My first name bears the meaning of “wisdom”; and I think my parents had no clue when I was given the name because I do not (not do they!) consider myself wise in the world or in my work. However, wisdom is hard to understand and no one is wise enough to understand wisdom so I’ll leave it as that.
Who are you? Are you a sower, a reaper, or an eater? All three have their strengths and weaknesses and all are needed to run a great organization with the presumption that they all have the same organizational goal in mind, not self-fulfillment.