12 years ago, I left a secure, well paid corporate job in search of something I had no idea how to describe. I didn’t know what it would look like, all I knew was that my heart would shrivel and my soul would perish if I stayed in that corporate a minute longer.
Today I’m privileged to work with some incredible organisations. We’re either offering a service, product or art that helps others live richer, more diverse, healthier, happier lives. So what changed? Everything, and things haven’t stopped changing since.
We’re living in a time The Futures School (an organisation that helps you develop strategic foresight) describes as VUCA – Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous – and that has got to mean living in a state of being constantly poised for change. How do we need to change so we thrive in a VUCA world?
Here are some of the shifts I’m seeing that would make my old corporate hierarchy’s toes curl and which I couldn’t imagine 12 years ago yet are a reality in my life today.
New Ways of Working Together
Kaleidoscopic Collaborations: what I’m noticing is a shift in working relationship structures. Rather than the typical employer/employee model, individuals with specific skills are collaborating on short term projects and then moving on to new collaborations. A recent client project saw a designer, a web developer and me as copy writer collaborate with my client to create a website for her new brand. It was an ideal synergy. We all brought our specialist expertise to the project over an intense period and when the task was complete, the team dissolved. I continue to work with each of these people, just in different constellations. It’s a bit like a kaleidoscope. We move apart, then come together again. This empowered, relational way of working turns hierarchy on its head.
Work/Life Fluidity: I’m seeing this in my own life and others – particularly women running their own businesses – less artificial separation between our work life and our “real” life, The 9-5 construct bears little resemblance to how our lives actually flow. If we stay fluid, work finds its place woven in between childcare, cooking, shopping, self-care and rest. This enables us to breathe because it allows space for everything in our lives. Having flexibility means we’re less likely to work at the expense of our families or special interests or our friendships and relationships. It means being able to set our own pace in achieving results even if that means working odd hours or in odd places. (thank you Internet!)
Speed Resistance: in a world where speed and efficiency is so highly valued, to slow down doesn’t make the least sense until we find ourselves gasping for breath trying to manage our manic lives. It’s why making a conscious decision daily to slow things down to human-speed is essential to our well-being. The CEO of an organisation I work with insists we will not meet deadlines if it means flogging ourselves to death to do so. We’ve found ourselves elegantly sidestepping them as they go whooshing past and then we simply set new ones that suit our lives better. We’re still achieving big things that matter. This level of self-care is a radical act when ‘fast’ is seen as essential to success.
Valuing Connection First: when we work solely in the interest of maximising efficiencies, we also begin to lose humanity. In her recent newsletter, Debbie Logan of Organic Emporium wrestles against the idea of putting her delivery service online. Everyone tells her it’s the most efficient, logical solution and the way of the future and yet inwardly, it just doesn’t ‘feel true’ for Debbie. Instead, she’s steering her business to where it’s most aligned with what she values most. So here’s how it works: just call or whatsapp them your order and they’ll deliver doing the ‘one thing we do better than anyone else – talk to you! Sam will arrive with a speed point, no fuss, real conversation, you can be driving and rattle off what you need at home and Pretty will get it all down for you’.
Her business has real human faces with voices and names unmediated by technology. I just love how she simply bypasses all the ready-made high-tech systems available to her and persists in prioritising that which resonates with her deepest values. Of course efficiency is a good thing. But where is it positioned in your hierarchy of what’s important?
Seeding New Ways
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
Technology can be a great enabler of disruption to the status quo – AirBnB and Uber are just two well known examples. In our own businesses, we can seed bold new ideas on social media, in our newsletters and blog posts, creating a future we sense is possible but can’t yet fully imagine today. That’s why copy writing matters.
Words are powerful agents of change. Send them out to work.