How do we make the joyful noise of an inauguration and the current cultural paradigm shift mean something relevant to the people doing good work in the idea marketplace?
If anyone, any industry had a stake in optimism, it is this one. We're built on creativity and invention and problem-solving. We -- agencies and nonprofits and universities -- own high stakes in the optimistic.
Via facebook magic, I've gotten so many messages of sadness, angst in the last few weeks: layoffs, survivor guilt, meaningfuness of work. The conversations are tough. The last thing I want to offer is a handy motivational speech or the "not to worry" quackery. But as you ask for advice (or comfort or a reality check), I have a bit to offer.
And the first part is :: we'll get through this.
After that, no easy answers. Instead, I offer something looking from way above the fray and then, later, back into the guts of reality.
5 directions for living on purpose
1 -- Be indispensable. The wonderful Joyce Thomas of McCann offered this as a way out of the troubles of the next year. If we do our jobs with the joy of being absolutely relevant and necessary to our clients, to our team, to ourselves, we increase our chances of being focused on doing things right. If you've left your job or haven't found one, keep indispensable as your guide as you talk to a next career chapter.
2 -- Be real. The realities are staggering. Look at the daily tally and understand what's happening. Talk to your friends. And when this agony is over, what will we have? The best news is that survivors -- individuals and agencies -- will be smarter and stronger.
3 -- Be mindful of what you always wanted in a career. There are cultural lines running through this time that speak of change (the easy observation), engagement, the power of what we do. How we play through these times is a measure of who we are. I've asked students for the last 15 years to offer their manifesto of the type of work they want to do. I have been touched by the volumes written on meaning, "finding myself in what I do" and creating work that is the best it can be. This assignment usualy comes early on as students are first connecting with the professional world. They are innocent and purposeful. And they know intuitively what they should do. Capture that again. Get honest in your work.
4 -- Be a learner. Here it is again :: pick up a new skill, connect it with the legacy you've created as an idea person. Art directors are learning code and Final Cut Pro, writers are inventing new ways to present work in story form. Everyone is tied in new ways to social media, digital tools, the beauty of new ways to create. No excuses.
5 -- Live in this beautiful moment. Politics aside (can I do that?), feel the impact of people believing in what is possible. That is magnificent. It forces new ways to solve problems. It forces to get over obstacles and fulfill possibility. Damn, that is remarkable. What does that do to your life?