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We write a LOT about work. And the responses we get are … weird.
Narratives of work are among the most varied and intensely personal of all narratives. And for good reason. Whether you see it as a social construct or an inherent feature of the human animal evolved to deploy his many faculties productively, work engenders narratives which are also narratives of identity.
Once again, the most important narratives are the ones we tell ourselves.
Like I say, we’ve written a LOT about work. If you’d like to read more, here’s your path:
Interesting observations on work and identity. I was thinking that it makes a lot of sense that work would be so very fraught as a concept because of its centrality in constructing our social lives as a species. It’s our commons as homo sapiens. And given the vast distances across which we organize Work, and the size of the organizations that we have today, it’s no wonder that the concept has such a weird quality to it.
You probably know the cognitive linguistics work of George Lakoff, and how metaphor is fundamental to language and especially to intellectual concepts with no analog physical reality. How does all our digital paper pushing become meaningful to us as Work, a linguistic metaphor predicated on (manual) Labor? What is the object that we can conceive remote work in terms of such that it feels like meaningful and necessary Work? That’s what is at the heart of management discomfort I think, in those work places/offices where it’s even a question, along with thoughts about sunk real estate costs and indeed the meaning and accounting treatment of property, plant, and equipment.
I am working on a program to help empower “next generation innovators and leaders” that is focused on storytelling. We get into framing and metaphor a bit and I’m left thinking about relations with identity after this podcast. I hadn’t quite thought of storytelling in that specific frame, so I appreciate this very timely podcast a lot! Thanks Rusty and Ben.
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