Show Up Whole
I spent the better portion of P1 on employee reviews. At Undercurrent, we do official reviews every four months, with the intent of doing them all in one week while we’re “closed” for renovations. There’s no better gift than being in these reviews, and hearing about everyone’s experiences with the company that we’ve built. Lots of good, lots of challenges, and quite a few revelations that over the past four months, people grew professionally and personally faster than they ever had in their careers.
One thing that’s obvious after doing these reviews is that Undercurrent is a place where by and large people show up as themselves. And as we work to build new ways of organizing and working into client organizations (even smaller, newer ones!), it’s very clear that most workers have a firm partition between their work-selves and their home-selves.
Thinking about this, and fueled by wine and pizza, I did the obvious thing, and took my feels to Twitter:
One of the more interesting opportunities afforded by modern organizations: showing up at work as your whole self.
Being a "work version" of yourself for 8 hours a day is such a thin existence.
A quality criticism of this was brought by @malbiniak, that what I’m talking about “seems like an option accessible mostly to people from privilege.”
I think that’s generally correct. The networked, on-demand, everything JIT businesses of the future might be a particularly bad solve for this.2 There are still loads of people working in factories around the world. And more broadly, any organization offering minimum-wage jobs will struggle to allow their employees to show up as 100% of themselves, all the time, if only because it’s hard and costly to support social norms among a high-turnover working population. I’d argue that they’d be better for it if they did, but that’s an anxiety-inducing proposition for most executives.
The value is in the signaling. An individual living well, struggling, learning, failing helps the collective improve.
From personal experience, showing up whole everyday, and feeling comfortable in the moment, is really something else.
The problem with organizations is less that they’re ineffective and more that they are shitty options for how we spend our time.
This, to me, is the point that I’ve been failing to make understood for the last couple years.
It’s not necessarily that the organizations of our past are ineffective economic engines. In many industries and geographies the established, century-old ways of working and organizing do just fine, at least for the owners of capital.
The problem is that for most people, work sucks. Jobs suck. Bosses suck. Offices suck. Commuting for a reasonable portion of your waking hours, especially by car, is the fucking worst.
That’s what we’re working to fix.