The idea for this blog post emerged when a colleague visited my cubicle.
I will from now on refer to my cubicle as “cubicle 3B23”. The idea developed to write regular post under the title “Cubicle 3B23”, reporting about the good, the bad and the ugly of corporate life. This is the first in a series. Maybe it’s the first and only one. But i thought the idea was “cute” to try it out, to see where it goes and to let the future emerge.
The initial idea was to do a one-off under a different title (go the the very end of the blog to find out), but a friend told me that “Let me entertain you” makes you want to read on. So here we go.
Sometimes people come to cubicle 3B23 for some good fun brainstorming: “Do you have 5 minutes, I want to pick your brain ?”. Others put their head into cubicle 3B23 and say something like “Oh, i see you’re busy, i will come back later”. The latter usually have something “sad” in their eyes.
These are the moments to connect. In both cases i know this connection will make somehow a difference.
The other day, Joe was the one with sad eyes.
He was doubting himself, and wondering whether he should do his own thing, or continue to shut-up and play the game of being mister nice-guy.
Joe was responsible for a program incentivizing staff to think out of the box. At TEDx Brussels, i heard a better expression for that: “burn the box”.
In the planning for the new year, he was asked to run the program again. But he felt it was just not right. He felt he would be cheating the people joining the program. He was doubting whether it really mattered. He felt that he would not be able to look those folks in the eyes at the end of the program as the expectations created were just over the top. It’s a bit like the subtle difference between lying and not fully telling the truth. Both don’t feel right, and appeal to your ethical compass.
He was tired. In search for his real purpose in life. Fed up with playing games.
We had a long chat. He kept on complaining about the artificial aspects in corporate life. Somewhere 1/2 way in our discussion, i asked Joe what really kept him going. What was giving him energy. In what circumstances he felt he could be his true self. Not the self that you construct/imagine to be in synch with the big bad world out there. No, the self that silently is waiting inside you to be discovered. To be stumbled upon is probably a better way to say this.
Joe gave it a long thought, and said: “when i can inspire other people, and make them happy”. (it was another answer, but then i would reveal too much about that person).
There was a short silence, and went to my PC, searched my music collection, started a song and said: “This is you, Joe !”
The song was right on. I could see the emotional impact on Joe. The song was “Let me entertain you” by Robbie Williams.
I am an all-time fan of Robbie Williams. He is a great performer – once saw a concert of him in Wembley stadium – and you can love or hate him, but for me he is really authentic. Even if he puts on his rabbit/bunny head on. But i deviate. Although, this post is mainly about authenticity.
“Let me entertain you” is a high tempo energizing pop/rock song, but the real secret in Williams’ are often the lyrics.
Hell is gone and heaven’s here
There’s nothing left for you to fear
Shake your arse come over here
I’m a burning effigy
Of everything I used to be
You’re my rock of empathy, my dear
So come on let me entertain you
Let me entertain you
I could see the sparkles in Joe’s eyes. “Yes, that’s what i want !” he said. “I want to entertain people ! Make them happy. Make them move/shake their arse.”
I have to say, me too.
But for me it translates into having this strange connection with “stage”
When i was young (…), i used to be a quite successful DJ. I organized rock concerts. I was on one of the first free-radio stations (end seventies). I even was singer in a rock-band.
I was always attracted by “stage”. The good buddies feeling with the roadies. The equipment being set-up. A great show. The after party.
Also today, when we do “events”, i love being close to the stage. I love to put together a program like Innotribe, and see how that resonates with the audience. Maybe we should do a TEDx @ Sibos😉
I love to have and to apply authentically that soft “power” to move people emotionally. I even have that “stage” feeling when i try to do a good presentation in PowerPoint, Prezi, Adobe or whatever. Always in search for some good metaphors, good supporting images, have some “rhythm”, add some music to it.
But the last couple of weeks, it started smelling “like a trick”.
It has become “too easy” to put a presentation together that is “different” than the average.
On my blog, i often experiment a very little with fonts, font colors and sizes, left/right indents etc. But it all starts smelling like a “trick”. Starts smelling like on auto-pilot. That’s why in this blog post no “tricks” with fonts. I don’t feel that way today.
I once was told that one recognizes the best the feelings of others when you recognize them with yourself. For ex if you easily spot arrogant people, that’s probably because you’re arrogant yourself. Projection that is called, i believe.
That’s why i feel a bit like Joe. I recognize the feeling. I can do more with my skills. I am in search for that something extra. Like Joe, I am not happy anymore with just well executing a job.
I want to make a difference. Not just a ripple but a wave.
My wife sometimes asks me: “Peter, why don’t you settle down ? Look at the others. They don’t worry that much.” But i can’t. And i doubt. Is this my true self ? Is this who i really am ? Or is this the image that i’d like people to have from me ?
By now you probably get a feel of the initial title of this blog post. It was “doubting my impact”. Doubting my impact when working for this or that particular company. For this or that particular audience. Not doubting my skills or my added value.
I know i have the holy fire and can ignite others.
But doubting my added value and whether at the end of the day it’s all worth it. Whether at the end of the day it all made a difference. Whether at the end of the day there is some new meat on the bone. Whether it really matters.
This blog is often walking a thin balance between telling from the field, and packaging/romanticizing the story a bit that it just triggers the intelligent reader to do something with it but without going in “full contact”. The thin balance between private and public when you go public with a blog.
One of my bosses used to say “Management is a full contact sport”.
Do i want to be there ? Not in the way he meant it.
But yes, i want to go “full contact” in the connection. In keeping the doors of cubicle 3B23 open. To pick my brain or to share your pain.
Who feels the same ? Who wants to share his story ? Who wants to follow ?