The last century was the age of the corporation. All the rights of an individual, but none of the moral, ethical and social responsibilities. Profit as central and dominant purpose.
The first two decades of this century has seen them reach old age. All organisations age, and the best we can hope for is that they age gracefully, rather than turn into grumpy old citizens, or worse, soulless zombies (I say this with some feeling, having had a birthday over the holidays that means my age now begins with a 7. Salutary experience).
The best organisations can hope for, like us, is a legacy that makes a few people glad we were around for a while. No organisation is immortal, and what is more, their lifespan is reducing rapidly. As the old adage goes, when the world arounds us changes faster than we do, we have a problem.
Forget Resolutions, Think Practice.
Resolutions are for procrastinators. All the warm glow of intent, none of the pain. With the world around us changing at the rate it is, which we do not control, here are some thoughts as we get going:
- Despite what generations of traditional education have taught us, we are not consumables in an industrial world. If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that people solve problems. Technology is a wonderful and powerful ally, but we let it steer us at our peril.
- Organisations live the story the owners tell themselves, not the one they tell us. For a while, it makes sense to accompany them. It enables us to learn, associate and develop skills. But only for a while. Faster than we think, our story, the one we are trying to tell with out capabilities and talents, diverges from the one the organisation is telling. If we subordinate our story to theirs, we end up paying. The longer we leave it, the longer it takes to recover our story.
- There is nobody out there who can tell us how to live our life, no matter how persuasive or successful they seem. Our lives are our responsibility. What we do with them, who we live them with, how we live them and what we leave behind. There is nobody out there coming to rescue us.
- It is now that matters. What’s behind us is an amalgam of nostalgia and regret, whilst what’s in front of us is pure fiction until we live it. Our future is shaped by what we do today.
What we do today is a Practice:
- Don’t let the day suck you in before you’re ready. Spend some time remembering who you are, what you want to do while you’re here and who you want to do it with.
- Work like an Artisan. Whatever you do, focus your curiosity on it. Treat it as a craft. Examine it, get better at it, put your stamp on it. Teach others.
- Start where you are. You may hate the job you’re doing. That’s a waste of time – it’s what you’ve got right now, and it has far more to it than you’re willing to acknowledge whilst you’re busy hating it. You have several unique capabilities you can bring to it. Find them and exercise them. They will point you to what you want to be doing.
- Develop a rhythm. We work better inside a structure. Find several times in the day that belong to you. It need only be five minutes. You don’t have to chant or wear orange, you just have to be with yourself. Set a time, and a duration, and do it at the same time every day. Just be with yourself.
- Don’t do it alone. You become the average of the five people you most associate with. Choose them carefully and work with them. They are on their own journey. Help them and let them help you. Share your thoughts, your dreams and your disappointments.
Practice and resolutions are very different. Resolutions are warm, cuddly and very fragile. Practice is about now, and putting yout stamp on it. Your practice is yours alone. You may choose to share it with others, or not.
As 2021 takes us out of some of the bewilderment of 2020, opportunitires will present themselves if you let them. Be ready. Practice being you.
I can’t say it better than Max Ehrmann.