One of the caveats of culture is that it invites us to believe the ideas and habits it is based upon. In every culture, there are principles to be followed and ways to do things we better take up. It’s how members of a culture recognize one another and agree to belong together.
The easiest way to notice them is by moving from one culture to another. Entering a new environment lets you notice small or bigger frictions, unusual details, and behaviors which are not exactly as usual. You’ll find yourself enjoying or hating them. Holding these different ideas feels confusing.
Adapting to culture leads to limitations.
To ideas of what is allowed and what isn’t allowed. To ideas describing how to do things.
They establish a definition of success. And consequently how success is made visible within the culture.
Social media, for example, has very simple metrics to describe success, it’s the number of followers and the number of clicks your posts are generating.
Using these metrics the culture in place starts to support those who live by the definitions. They receive visibility, they are asked for tips and tricks, they are elevated to leaders.
What social media also makes visible, is that not everyone buys into that definition of success. Some simply let it go because they don’t want to put the time and effort into it. Others because they search for success somewhere else.
Yet others decide on their definition of success. They settle into what they want to do and what they want to achieve. It’s choosing autonomy over what they do and think. It’s deciding to design their freedom.
It involves feeling free to decide what they do and how they invest themselves in projects.
It doesn’t mean to be independent of the culture they settled in. It’s choosing available permissions as guidelines instead of searching for the existing limitations.
It means choosing a different way to contribute to the community one is part of.
Offering one’s definition of success is the choice to be a leader instead of waiting to be picked as one.