The most unique thing around us is something we take for granted and that happens to be 'us'. We are all unique and everyone has a story to tell. I guess my starting point is around this, which I will relate to business life.
We are so occupied with the intricacies of business life in big corporates we work that we fail to embrace the uniqueness of 'us' and hardly ever an authentic attempt is spared to digest what those unique characteristics are.
Today, one of the fundamental problems in business life is corporates failing to have a culture, or sustaining the legacy of culture they may have established over decades with blood and sweat and passion and dedication and sacrifice. One can offer many suggestions as to how to resolve that painful issue, but as you may have noticed from my earlier blogs, I tend to revolve around the concept of authenticity as a cure.
The more time I spend time in this sabbatical with people from different walks of life, whilst trying to deliver outcomes expected for my mobile money related project, on the side I start realizing certain nuances about this concept of authenticity I have been obsessing about all along. I am not talking about a Dalai Lama moment of enlightenment, but realization of rather practical details I might have missed or duly ignored before! Details about definition of authenticity, about what makes or can make us authentic as leaders or managers or humans when we deal with each other, what can be done to instill authenticity in others, etc.? All are questions in mind...day in day out.
Ask me about Simon. I will tell you about his kids a bit now, the fact that her wife reads my blogs, that he has lived abroad (I want to dig into the French side of his stories later) and that he agrees with me that guys making friendship might take a bit longer time than women, although with his Argentinian friend he has managed to get a deep dive quickly and don't get me even started with the vasectomy story!
Ask me about Vince, and I know his perspective on performance management for people in corporate life and that he is into manga animes like me! I loved his t-shirt.
Ask me about Michelle and my gosh, I feel like I can write a whole chapter about her life.
Ask me about Joerg and I know despite being a solid German hardcore technical technology person, he can cry as well and he is a daredevil foodie that can eat anything, but just anything. I cannot even bear and dare to hear about some of the things he has eaten, I close my ears.
And on top of this, we are also working on projects with these colleagues, or I should say friends.
...the list goes on, I am discovering them!
Can I/Will I be friends with them forever, or will I be in touch with all of them? I really do not know! I hope so and I am sure I will have this relation with some of them. I am just enjoying being with them, living with them and observing them.
But this sabbatical, even within a week, made me realize something my corporate psychologist friend Satu Eerola used to say around the need for slowing down, and digesting things around us... which we tend to forget. I do forget. A lot of the times. Honestly!
We are so fast, so fast.
Fast food consumption.
Sharing everything fast over social media.
Fast this fast that.
It is ok... there are merits in this, but sometimes you need to slow down. Talk to people, as long as they let you and as much as they open themselves to you, and embrace their realities. Slowly. Think of a slow cooked stew, tastes better. You cannot and should not fast forward certain things in life. They taste bad or they burn!
But no. In corporate life, we are told we are supposed to work as teams and gel instantly with each other and achieve the numbers, meet the deadlines... just because we are told to behave like a team does not make us an authentic team. We are a cluster of chickens hatching eggs together. Not the same thing!
This is where the problem is.
In capitalist countries, you know who is not...well all are these days. Hmm, let me paraphrase. In advanced economies of the west, lives are generally individualistic and Middle Eastern style communal lifestyles do not exits, where there is a culture like in the famous song of Laureen Hill from Fugees: Families stick together and they never betray! You have to pull a job at your company and as a leader you need teams. You instill this into your teams, mostly mechanically. Don't you!? Work as a team!?
Does that make your company a company where the concept of team is flourishing? I do not think so.
It is hardly authentic these days. It is pretentious.
A group of people pulling something together vs a group of soldiers saving each other...which one is a team, which one is a better team?
I guess what I am trying to say is, there is this concept in authenticity in life. Without it, you can still build things, teams, companies and even if they are fake, with some forced KPIs and MBOs and organizational design, you can make people behave like they are authentic. But this is killing me sometimes. Can you go to bed in peace with this reality? Can you lie to yourself? Can you mock yourself into this? Can you be happy with this? Can you live with this till death?
But to instill a spiritual togetherness among people, only if you think that would help you make more money after all or simply spread happiness around, and to make that relationship sustainable and self-governing and self-evolving, you need to invest more time in people. People need to invest more time in each other.
Sometimes, it is really nice to stop reading books and start reading people.
Everyone is a hero, everyone is a leader, and everyone has a story. Everyone is a book.
If you ever want to listen to.
Don't just read the index page of the book of people. Read the chapters.