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Posts Tagged ‘business’

When In Abscence

October 1, 2013 Leave a comment

A daily norm of behavior brings one into a routine of appearance and performance. You arrive at your job, do your work and leave for home. This cycle of function works to justify one’s existence. Don’t appear and the cycle is broken.  Suddenly one’s absence provides an opportunity to think again. Don’t appear and a new paradigm opens in your absence. “If he’s never here then do we need him?”

Adjustments take hold and suddenly the adjustments made to accommodate one’s absence become routine. A great hazard comes in simply not showing up. It’s often claimed that “showing up is half the battle” and indeed we can learn quite a bit from this simple phrase. People put a lot of value in the physical appearance of another. While one might be completely useless or even damaging to a situation, the sheer fact that one appears has a power to it. The act of “making an appearance” is one of the most useless, but viable evaluation on our society.

We might consider the very construction of this “making an appearance” phrase. Unpack it to see this verb of “making”. What are we creating when we appear? It is merely a physical existence in an organization? Is it merely a presence or actor playing a role that is developed.

Don’t appear and we learn to question your value. If you go away for a day we learn to work without you. Time’s progression creates a snowball of conundrum when one is not around. Oddly one’s best defense against dismissal is to simply show up. Even if one’s work is completely trivial the mere physical presence allows one to appear to be important. One may be an unused gear or even a detrimental part the machine but simply being part of the engine provides a basis to exist.

Principles v. Responsibilities

December 28, 2010 Leave a comment

An interesting feature of contemporary life is an expectation that we separate our principles with our responsibilities. We now have multiple roles in life: professional and private lives being two of the more distinct and varied formats. In order to be successful in contemporary professional culture we need to not only accept the expectation that we will separate our principles from our responsibilities but also fully utilize this separation for the benefit of our employers. To our benefactors we are expected to do whatever is asked of us; anything less is justification for termination.

The German philosopher Martin Heidegger saw two distinct spheres of existence, both of which were defined by the relation to the rest of human kind. In the “public sphere” the individual functions on the basis of social norms and perceived expectations. According to Heidegger’s writings, it is only in the “private sphere” that an individual’s true personality shines through.

Subscribing to these beliefs establishes the precedent that a person is only “real” when in private. Furthermore, the individuals we encounter are not realistic representations, but are instead personal concoctions created to meet perceived expectations and social norms. This human function instills the separation of principles and responsibilities. The professional world has grasped on the awareness of the two spheres and created an expectation that our “public self” the false character of who we are, can function with the needed “false emotions” to act not in accordance with personal needs but instead for the benefit of the employer.

Interestingly, society does not maintain this distinction through the life cycle of a business. When successful, this cold-hearted, inhuman behavior expectation goes unquestioned. Lives are forever altered: weak employees are terminated, factories are shut down and re-opened in cheaper locations and a swath of corporate maneuvers are carried out with sole interest for the company at play. But what occurs with failure? What happens when the darker sides of corporation are considered and brought to light? Suddenly the acceptance of “responsibilities before principles” is discarded and the corporate actors in the spotlight are characterized as cold-hearted and inhuman. Rapidly the perceived positive qualities (here to fore qualities of the successful) are positive things, but face complication and failure and the reaction to these qualities is flipped and public pride becomes vengeful hatred.

A social system that strays into emotional denial immediately strays into dangerous territory. Reality is destroyed when a corporate actor understands success to be dependent on the ability to discard principles. Can we alter this system? It is highly unlikely? Why? Because this system of personal denial has brought about immense amounts of success. With our distance from human emotion and reality we have crafted narratives of existence that we have then manipulated for our benefits. Long ag0 we greeted this dangerous territory and will never make an exit. For now there is only one critical skill we all must develop: recognition.

When we see the system for what it is we can respond and prepare accordingly. Responsibilities tout personal principles in successful people and in order to function in a world where these players exist we must cruise with calm awareness. Take on this very skill to increase the possibility of success, but be wary of the damage such adjustments can bring about. It is a risky game of denial when these features are utilized.

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