Have you heard that phrase, “He’s drunk the Kool-Aid”? The reference means that a newer employee has now adapted the standard corporate mindset… they’ve been indoctrinated. Yet, we’re invited to join a company for our unique perspective, background, and experience. So, how might we retain that value as we immerse and integrate into the organization? Here’s how NOT to drink the Kool-Aid.

cult kool aid

Write a list of hypotheses.

  1. When you first accept the offer, you hold an initial view of the company and the business opportunity that draws you. So while it’s fresh, write down what attracted you to the job and what value you believe you can contribute.
  2. Add to that list of hypotheses… in your first week, and then every week for your first month. Outline ways you think the business can be improved, optimized, and grown.
  3. As you wrap each week, bring that list back out. Cross out incorrect assumptions, edit based on new information, add new thoughts and ideas.

As you edit this list each week, you’ll hone those hypotheses with richer context and knowledge. As you do, bring the breadth of your experience and wisdom into the mix. And together, this list will serve as your lighthouse – it defines what you will achieve in this role. And even as you (inevitably) feel tossed amongst the waves, keep your eyes on that beacon.

lighthouse avoid kool-aid

Your list becomes your legacy.

By your third month, this list should be pretty tight. And do you know what you’ve done? You’ve defined the legacy you will leave in this role.

Here’s a mental image many of us carry. Have you ever transitioned jobs? You know how when you move on, the team celebrates you with drinks and cake? Lovely people take turns talking about your achievements and thank you for your accomplishments, right?

Well, how much more intentionally do you enter a new role when you define that list of hypotheses upfront? You’re starting with the end in mind; that focus will serve you in achieving more with more focus, which will benefit the company richly, too.

And that is how NOT to drink the Kool-Aid!

This topic came up as I recorded a podcast with Stacy Mayer. To listen, click here.

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Photo credits: lighthouse by Zetong Li,