Connections are How we Get Back to Remarkable

Connected network

“We put our stories down for other people to pick up.” 

This is the version I remember for an ancient African proverb. As people, this is how we behave in our communities and in the workplace — we connect at a human level with neighbors, colleagues, business partners, customers, etc.

Leaving a job is not as easy as it seems on the surface. Because often we enter a profession we feel suited for and end up loving it, and we develop relationships while there. Planned or not, the emotional wake of no longer being there impacts us.

We are built to form attachments and business is about relationships even when we treat it as a transaction. Which is why how to survive the loss of a love applies to work and career as much as it does to other forms of attachment. Econ, short for behavioral economists, tell us we are loss averse. We are.

In a candid talk, former host of the NPR's Marketplace Morning Report Tess Vigeland describes what it was like to leave her beloved job. She says:

What everybody wanted to know was… what are you going to do next?! And I had the lamest answer of them all: I don’t know.

The followup question was even worse: Well, what do you WANT to do?

I want to go home and curl up with my cats.

No, no, Tess – go read “What Color Is Your Parachute!” Watch some TED Talks about finding your passion! Go take a class that you’ve always wanted to take!

Great advice… But inside my head – I was paralyzed. Getting your brain to really, really open up to all the possibilities – it’s so much harder than I ever imagined.

Tess then describes the highs and lows many of us experience in our careers today.

Meanwhile, the future of work is already here — independents, co-working spaces, co-creation, open source, collectives, etc. — only unevenly distributed. We are experimenting with collaboration one relationship at a time until we get it better.

Some organizations are hard at work building the commercial infrastructure that allows us to make collective promises beyond company walls. That includes the mechanics of how boards and directors work together, for example.

This is a conversation that can and should include corporations and the definition of remarkable. Tess says:

How do I get back to remarkable?

The ONLY way… is by redefining it.

And what success looks like.

Watch the video of the talk below.

Tess Vigeland from Chris Guillebeau on Vimeo.


Tess Vigeland is out with a book — part memoir, part conversation with others who have also taken the plunge — Leap: Leaving a Job with No Plan B to Find the Career and Life You Really Want.

A pervasive way of thinking about work still prompts what Tess reports in the book — people saying, “I can't wait to see what you do next.” An expectation of some kind of hero transformation to swoop in an save the day. Part of it is dictated by fear — we distance ourselves so the person will not taint our good fortune, or we won't need to get involved in some way, maybe we don't want to learn that deep down we don't have answers.

It's not answers we need, but better questions. This is how we learn to think better, to gain better perspective.

Broken systems along with broken people and fragmented communities are here.  When we invite someone to connect, what it means is “we put our stories down for other people to pick up.”

It's the together part we're still working out. Futurist Ayelet Baron says at the heart of new ways of working are trusted communities. It does take hard work to build anything and learn from it. Ayelet says:

One of the biggest challenges we have in our connected world is knowing who can help us in new ways and also having the courage to ask for help.

This is also a problem no social network solves… yet. Early days. Yes, ideas and messages spread through social networks, and social networks do see organizations as customers, the paying kind (a post from 2010, much it still applies today.)

It takes courage to say the things Tess Vigeland said.

Steve Jobs said and reminds us time and time over as we share in social networks, “we connect the dots in retrospect.” Many dots are at our disposal now — asking better questions, making the invisible visible, and supporting each other as we go about the “lonely business of laying solid intellectual foundations for another time.” [h/t Peter Tunjic]

We are not as alone as we feel, and we have tools. 


[image by Ayelet Baron]


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