Charles Starrett

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Culture consultant & social tech teacher/facilitator at SoulCo & Northeastern University. He/Him. Dad, Harvard and NEC alum, visual thinker, dabbler in ukulele, electronic music, 한국어, and TTRPGs.

Working alive

There is a common veneer of “being professional” which is nothing more than a shield for us to hide behind. To control the messiness of being human. To avoid the discomfort of vulnerability and human emotions. To escape into a fantasy of facts and figures where we can believe that decisions are rational and relationships are can be navigated through org charts and seniority.

This could be one reason why so many of us complain about “soul-less” organizations, or feeling dead inside at work. We have collectively created an environment where the expectation is for us to be less human. It may feel safer in some ways, but it’s not healthy, and it’s not good for business.

It’s not good for business because we’re not firing on all cylinders. It’s not good for business because it restricts our creativity and makes us less innovative. It’s not good for business because it keeps us from feeling safe to be open and honest about what we see, feel, and sense — the deep data that business needs to survive and thrive.

Another approach is to drop the act. To stop playing the game and pretending and instead of gathering around the flag of “professionalism,” to gather around a shared intention.

Why are we here? What is our work? What are we making? Who is it for, and what is it for?

If we could agree to work together towards a shared intention, and to practice kindness and respect towards ourselves and each other as we do it, we could drop the veneer of “professionalism,” be real with each other, and get to work doing business together with joy and sustainable well-being.

What if we spent our working hours like that — really making a living, instead of making a dying?

14 July 2022

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