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Tuesday, February 01, 2005


Some Ideas Reconsidered

On a few occasions I've written a few things that I've been prodded to reconsider lately. Call it a part of my ego-reduction therapy.

Previous idea: Organizations need us more than we need organizations.
New idea: The healthy relationship between individual and organization is interconnected.

Somewhere in the past I've written and openly advocated that organizations need us far more than we need them. As a "free agent," "solo-preneur," or whatever I might be, this was perhaps a way for me to distance myself from the organization. It was my declaration that I control my destiny and that I am free of the bindings of the corporate world. I alone was the broker of my own unique talent.

Yet, today I've been forced to confront this idea and consider something different: the relationship between individual and organization is far more interconnected. We actually might be good for each other. The organization can provide certain things to an individual that they would struggle to get on their own. For instance, the opportunity to work with exciting, creative people; accelerated learning through innovative projects; cool fringe benefits like paid sabbaticals, access to corporate resources, etc. And this all works if the organization remembers one thing: it can pay its employees, but it cannot buy them.

Previous idea: The idea of balance in life is an illusion and therefore unrealistic as a metaphor.
New idea: The idea of balance in life is an illusion and it IS realistic as a metaphor.

I'm a big fan of a guy named Charlie Badenhop who has a coaching practice called Seishindo. He has a newsletter and today's issue is called Are You Feeling In Control? (absolutely perfect question for me today) He starts with a bittersweet story about a biker whose motorcycle topples over oddly when he stops at a traffic light. Charlie writes:
I smile at the guy, and playfully ask him if he has had a tough night, and a bit too much to drink. "No, no, nothing at all to drink." he says. "My girlfriend just broke up with me, and I am broken hearted. We divided everything up as equally as we could. I kept the bike and all the rest of what I am carrying. She kept her belongings and the sidecar for the bike, which she always rode around in with me. I guess it's going to take a while to get used to no longer needing to balance her weight.
He later goes on to write:
Life is a balancing act, and as long as we are alive, the need to maintain, lose, and once again regain our balance, goes on constantly. We don't so much maintain our balance as a constant. Much more so we need to lose and regain our balance over and over again.
There is something about that notion of returning to balance. It's unrealistic to believe we can find balance as a constant, but something deeply uplifting to the idea that we can always right ourselves when life and career knock us off kilter.

Previous idea: Work is intensely personal.
New idea: Work is personal AND it's not personal.

Bren at Slacker Manager recently wrote about how work wasn't personal for him. He went on to write:
It's business and it's removed from who I am. I work and I have standards and ethics toward which I strive. Also, because of values congruency, I define my own work. But my work doesn't define me.
For a long time, I held fast to my conviction that work had to be personal. I had seen too many folks languish in dead-end jobs who did not make their work personally fulfilling. And I argued this point with Bren.

Now, I get what he was talking about. I think he puts a nice, healthy "and" into how he approaches his work. If you allow your work to get too personal, it does tend to define who you are. What happens if you lose your job or your boss takes you to task for speaking out against an idea that's bad for your customers?

You can put your passion into your work and you can maintain your core identity and values. Bren, it took a while, but now I see your point.

Categories: c.Careers; c.Living; c.Organizations

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