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Working for the Work

I listened to an interview yesterday morning with singers and actors who with work having dried up overnight under Covid-19 restrictions are taking their work, literally, to people’s front doors. There was a quote, which I didn’t get verbatim, but was along the lines of “This is what we do, it’s what we love. We don’t want to retrain, we want to work. If that means taking our work to people’s doorsteps, even though its less money, it’s what we’ll do”

I found myself deeply impressed and very humbled by it. Government’s logical, linear solution to the problem has been to encourage people to retrain – with one ad notoriously suggesting a ballet dancer retrain in cyber security. Two very different messages. The first in pursuit of purpose, the second in search of a convenient solution to a social problem.

I can’t help feeling there’s a valuable lesson, and an example here for all of us.

Big data doesn’t do purpose, or other intangibles on anything other than a very generalised, top down, linear basis. It doesn’t do intuition, or emotion, or sensed feeling (all the very stuff of actors and musicians, and humans in general) and the stuff it does do really well it increasingly doesn’t need humans for other than as data points.

It leaves a gap. If we put the work in charge (not the job) we have a choice. We can apply all our senses and abilities to it. We may have an indifferent employer, but the work we do anchors us. If we get it right, our work is for life, our employers an arrangement.

If we’re lucky, we’ve found the work we want to do. If we haven’t learning to work for the work we have, to understand it, shape it, and make it ours will almost certainly lead us to it. Whether we’re a choreographer or a call centre handler, there’s far more to the work than we give it credit for. (I wrote a while ago about an experience with a call centre the blew me away. Somebody who took what would normally be seen as a mundane job really seriously)

The routine jobs are going, leaching away to algorithms, particularly in management and the professions. It is leaving an increasing gap between what we’ve trained for and the jobs requiring it.

It’s time to find the work we want to do.

If the idea of the GAP interests you, have a look at the GAP manifesto at Originize. You might want to be part of it.

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Complexity and volatility create enormous opportunities for those willing to go beyond the boundaries of "business as usual" to explore the edges of their business. I am an entrepreneur, a coach, a creative thinker, and above all, an explorer of possibility.

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