Do you ever sit in your office, cubicle or fishbowl space…and wonder “what the heck am I doing here – in this space, surrounded by these people, emblazoned with this title, performing these functions? Is what I’m doing meaningful and is the setting (or culture) right for ME?”
Over the years, as I traversed the work world, I’ve often asked myself these questions – actually so many times that the number of pauses/blips might be embarrassing to reveal. Often, I’d sit in quiet solitude and reflect on these questions – trying to constructively answer or at least sort out where and why I’d landed where I had. I’d spend this time alone to consider and ponder – people, events, happenings – and to unfold what might have caused these questions to flare up or resurface. Answers rarely materialized. In most cases, I believe – deep down – I knew I didn’t “fit in.” But, settling in and occupying space in various places or situations just seemed to be “the right thing to do” (plus, doing so ensured the bills would be paid). So, extinguishing these questions or other conflicting thoughts assisted me in aligning with “the right thing to do.” Strolling down the “chosen” career path – one that appeared to allow entry into what appeared to be a new and different “adventure” every four years – seemed to make the most sense.
Working for someone else has consistently baffled me – creating confusion and challenges. Taking up residence in those traditional-type settings – job descriptions, hierarchies, restrictions on vacation and sick time – did not allow my free-spirit – filled with unique or unusual ideas – to meander in the way it was designed. Initially, selecting and remaining in a field of study (Marketing) that was highly intriguing and offered many opportunities to gather, grasp, and interpret the human thought process was extremely rewarding and insightful. However, embedded in these cultures – even within smaller organizations – were way too many rules, regulations, titles, hierarchies and reporting structures which dampened and hampered any real creativity and squelched any momentum toward execution of those ideas.
Being raised in an extremely traditional family/lifestyle, my desire to “break away” – maybe even rebel – began to surface shortly after my father’s passing when I was 16 years of age. During that period of time, nothing made sense – so, trying anything (even failing at) offered an option or alternative. Actually, truth be told, my inner spirit craved to be set free of the structured, unexplained and angst-ridden life I was subsisting within at that time. The series of twists and turns this event evoked would propel me into a continual, never-ending life of questioning – a constant search for meaning.
Little did I realize at the time, that although I had been deposited into a structured, guided life, the fragileness of human existence (and my father’s passing) offered me the possibility of wiggling out and trying on new and different aspects of life which might not have been encased in my on-going existence.
Throughout my career, it seemed natural for me (despite the reluctancy and hesitation of others) to:
- Apply for (and be invited to interview for – even land) jobs I was barely 40% qualified for;
- Create numerous positions (3) for myself within a tight/traditional organizational structure;
- Negotiate self-driven/directed work hours;
- Elect to commute between two work locations in two states (every two weeks) just so I could work with a specific boss/manager/team;
- Find unique methods for coaching, guiding and managing my manager; and
- Select (or even create) specific projects I specifically desired to work on.
Despite all of my efforts at this “work style creativity,” I remained perplexed – by the environment, the spirit/nature/ attitude of others, and much more while working within these highly formalized and structured traditional (Industrial Age hang-over) settings.
Now, years later and with a much healthier outlook and focus – feeling like I “fit in” – I’ve found my way to a fascinating book that not only situates my questioning in a new and different light…but, puts rational, productive teeth into answers that offer concepts, terms, attitudes, and approaches to re-stitch my understanding. While reading this book, I was thrilled (and even felt vindicated) to learn the sources of my feelings of alienation – in those Industrial Age settings.
In his new book,“Why Employees Are Always a Bad Idea”, Chuck Blakeman offers terms, phrases, and concepts that explained the reason for my feelings of not “fitting in” – I am more of a creative Capitalist who managed to wind up in workplace structures driven by Industrial Age mores. On his web site, Blakeman offers the type of environment I’ve been seeking much of my work life…a place that offered support (and a culture) to allow ME to be ME…a place where I could find meaning for myself and contribute to a world within which I co-exist. Blackman encourages us to…
IMAGINE A COMPANY OF ANY SIZE:
- With no titles, no departments, no corporate ladder, no office hours, unlimited vacation time, and profit sharing for everyone.
- That invites the whole person to work, not just the part tied to the machine.
- Where leaders hire people they will never have to manage. In fact, where there are no employees or managers at all, just Stake Holders.
- With no written policies or HR department, because rules destroy creativity.
- Where the driving force is Making Meaning, not just money, and as a result, everyone makes a lot more of both.
It goes without saying…we now live in a very different world. That being said, regardless of our generation, age or stature in life, we each need to continually remember (and embrace the fact) that we own the ability to “grant ourselves permission” to identify and be who we are – even at work.
Crafted, researched and written by: LIZ CARLOCK
The Write Resources, LLC™
© 2015 EM Carlock