What does "work" mean? Or, more precisely, what does the word "work" mean for you?
For some, the word "work" is used to make a distinction between two types of time: employed time & unemployed time. For others, it means difference between "time for others" & "time for me". For others, it's paid versus unpaid time. There are many other subtle distinctions in the way we use the word "work".
We muddle our way through conversations about work: we assume we understand each other. And so it will always be. We are individuals - all subtly different from each other.
So when I say I'm going working in Chicago, I mean to say something
I better explain.
1. Over two years ago, I made contact via the internet with an individual in Vancouver. She connected me to some people involved in SOBCon. We clicked quickly: shared values & interests. That connection led to on-going communications. I've had two years of feeling myself belonging to that group - online. My communications with members of that group or community have been purposeful. I've used my best skills to deepen rapport & collaborate in tiny ways with them. I've done my best to gently open wide the potential for long-term collaboration with people belonging to that circle - without ever knowing where such connection would lead. I've worked hard at it.
2. I went to North America in summer 1968 & summer 1969. I was young, impressionable (still am) & pretty intimidated by the experience. It was pretty tough - but ever so good for me. I went to Canada, in 1977 - but apart from that I've never crossed the Atlantic Ocean. I was negative about the influence of USA in the world for a long time. I was an anti-imperialist, anti-Vietnam war, generally anti-American policies. I worked hard at spreading that critique of America. Gradually, I changed. Eventually, I connected with another view of America. I worked hard on that transition. I feel a need to re-experience America - for my own good - so that I can move on with my life's work.
3. ChangeAgents Branding, the company Jonathan Amm & I own is connected both locally & internationally. We're a small digital branding company (a bit like a "shop") based in a small city on the south end of the island of Ireland. We'd be nothing without our connections with people in other places. If we were to focus exclusively on our Cork contacts, we'd fail the people we aim to serve. If we don't work hard on our connections with people from other cultures and sectors, we'll be no good to anyone. We have to be remarkable well connected. What good would a narrow-minded, parochial, introverted branding company be? It's hard work to be locally relevant & globally inspired. ChangeAgents needs to travel to ensure we stand out for others - we need to go find new people, new ideas, new ways. We also need help & support from others - so that we can continue to provide services people value. We need to take opportunities. Chicago is an opportunity to get the help of others. People in Chicago will help ChangeAgents think about our business. I'll work with others on my business - highly purposeful work. There's always the possibility that a new project or business partnership will emerge from the potential of Chicago. Not certain - not within my control - but you never know. I call that working with uncertain potential.
Could I offer you three more reasons why I regard my time in Chicago as good working time? Of course I could. I haven't said anything about meeting my family there - my extended family matter ever so much to me. I regard them as incredibly important to me. Time spend with them is good work. Time spend anticipating meeting them is work because it gets me applying my full attention to a noble purpose.
I haven't said anything about the four people who've come to Ireland & with whom I've worked. They know who they are. The face-to-face contact with them has transformed digital connections into something visceral (coming from strong emotions and not from logic or reason) that makes me feel weak at the knees to recall.
Work is a word I associate with the best of me.
All my best time with people is good work to me. That's simply the meaning I make of the word "work". Even when I'm unwinding - mindfully meditating - I think of that as "work".
[As you can see, I'm paid for about .001% of my working time.]
How do you think about your "work"?
What mindset helps you navigate the complexity of life?
It doesn't really matter what you regard as "work" - so long as you're clear about it & it serves you well. That's right, isn't it.
Wish me well in Chicago.
It may be all "work" - but it'll be fun too. I'm "too" excited about the prospect. Also I'm dying to blog for you from a coffee house Chicago or Skydeck of Willis Tower.
Special huge thanks to
Jane Boyd, AJ Leon, Melissa Leon, Jessie M White, Liz Strauss, Nick Kellet, Leslie McLellan, Becky McCray, Eric Strauss, Angel Djambazov, Roger Overall, Melissa Hoyt, Jeremy Edwards, Eoin Edwards, Diane Brogan, Matthew Kiell, Marti Konstant, Brandie McCallum, Jonathan Amm & Uncle Tom Cobley