Thursday, May 9, 2013

Thoughts on Tribal Workers.

It has been a while since I've blogged. There are a number of reasons I could list as to what has kept me away for so long -- perhaps that could be a blog in and of itself. But, more importantly is what compelled me to come back to blogging today. 

I woke up to an email this morning from a friend sharing an article called, "Tribal Workers." It focuses on this "new generation" that is made up of people in my age group; a group of people who embrace, or are trapped, by an "employment lifestyle" ...a lifestyle I have been associated with.

"...when people can convince themselves that all they need do in order to lead fulfilled and happy lives is to work long hours, they can quickly start to lose reasons for their existence. As they start to think of their employment as a lifestyle, fulfilling and rewarding of itself - and in which the reward is proportional to hours worked - people rapidly begin to substitute work for other aspects of their lives."

At first, I wanted to take offense seeing as how I am involved in a little bit of a lot. But this doesn't justify my involvement in the slightest. I generally keep my ventures separated; in my opinion, it prevents people from questioning my commitment and dedication to my field. Over time I have found that people are more willing to accept, or embrace, a creative persons venture when they are they are perceived as "all-in" on their sole niche.

Quick sidebar: there is a distinct difference in the quality of work between someone who has multiple interests/hobbies and has taken the time to invest in their craft, verses someone who is just out there trying different things in an attempt to find their "thing" or even themselves. For the latter, I can understand people who don't take them serious or see them as searching for a "thing" to use in order to fulfill themselves rather than doing something fulfilling.

Now, the idea of having to pick just ONE thing that I want to do or invest myself in didn't quite work for me.  When I found something I loved to do I like to explore the possibilities of where I could take it, and where I need to grow to make it happen. I like to see how it fits into the grand vision of making my contributions in this world worthwhile. But unlike many cases discussed in the article, there was never a need for me to keep my time occupied in order to feel more fulfilled. It was more so that I have a passion for different fields; all of which have presented lucrative opportunities that I've learned to welcome with open arms.

One of the main reasons why I am able to handle multiple ventures is because of the time Cliff and I spent early on in our careers learning how to maintaining balance in our lives. It definitely wasn't an easy task nor did we quite figure out the right balance on the first try, but its why we don't burn out every month taking on new projects either.

Speaking of balance...three of the people who spoke on relationships really stood out to me. One who was willing to relocate for a job and move in with his girlfriend yet still maintain this long distance type relationship. I just don't understand the point staying in a relationship with someone who is so indifferent about the relationship. The second young man, whose career had international ventures and had him moving around quite a bit made it a point to avoid relationships or any type of emotional investing in a partner due to the fact that he would soon be leaving for the next job. I understand that more; why be in a relationship with someone you can't be even be with, right? Then there was Kathryn...

"Kathryn is a successful American academic, 29, who bucked the trend of her generation: she recently turned her life round for someone else. She moved to the UK, specifically, to be with a man, a decision that she says few of her contemporaries understood. "We're not meant to say: 'I made this decision for this person. Today, you're meant to do things for yourself. If you're willing to make sacrifices for others - especially if you're a woman - that's seen as a kind of weakness. I wonder, though, is doing things for yourself really empowerment, or is liberty a kind of trap?" she says."

Kathryn's story stood out to me. There was a point in time in my early 20's when I was ready and willing to uproot my life for the woman I loved. This was even before I had a desire to leave the state of California. Where ever her job landed her I knew I could relocate and run my business from there, or at the very least get a job at the same university. Overly confident, young, and not thinking things through? Perhaps. But I was never discouraged from this. Maybe I just had a great support system. What baffles me is the fact that making such a bold decisions can render someone as weak. That takes so much conviction and confidence, I fail to understand why its looked down upon as weakness; sacrificing some alleged power. But I digress...

In this new generation of young professionals, we will see many more people with a broader general knowledge and experience base. Specialists will be farther and fewer in between, but there will still be the few that dedicate their lives to one thing -- and there will be a time and place for their impact and expertise. Much like in health care, more Physician's Assistants and Nurse Practitioners will be handling family/general practice while physicians will be more focused on specializing. For the rest of us, we are no long living in a box nor confined by limitation. But what deserves a moment of reflection is how does everything you're involved in come together for your greater goal? We surely know it is perfectly fine to be talented at, and invest in, more than one thing ...learning how to maintain that healthy balance in life, that's the most neglected investment.

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