Blog April 28, 2008

home is where the heart is

Sometimes being in a familiar place can be an unfamiliar experience. I’ve been in New York for the past ten days and the place should technically look and feel the same as it always does. But it doesn’t. Perhaps it’s the fact that I’m a regular visitor to the city now (at least twice a year) or maybe it’s that I’m taking it for granted – but I think it’s probably the people and relationships I am building here that makes the difference. I’ve always felt that I make more sense to myself in this city. The grass is always greener I know, but there’s a constellation of people, places and feelings that are evoked in me when I’m here that’s unlike anywhere else I’ve travelled. New York is the city that never disappoints – and technically it should. I know the city very well, the ride from the airport should be passé – but the Manhattan skyline takes my breath away every time, each time anew, each time a renewed beginning.
I’m thinking about this in terms of organisations and what would make going to work a renewing experience every day. With so much energy going into staff retention; work/life balance and work related satisfaction I wonder is it as simple as the relationships we build while we’re there? Work is a social place and organisations are networks of human systems. If, like me, you’re driven by curiosity and a need for conversation then the quality of those relationships make or break an environment. I can’t imagine not having my imagination fed through my work. I can’t imagine not having my heart stimulated by relationships.
I know I’ll look back on this trip and see it as pivotal in the relationship I’m having with myself – I look in the mirror each morning and see a difference – the difference is down to the people I know here. If the old cliché that home is where the heart is, is true then the fact that I’m feeling at home here and within myself has to do with that heart connection. I wonder how many of us can say the same of our work lives?

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  • Jeremy Sweeney April 28, 2008 at 9:05 am

    Dear Annette, what a lovely piece of writing. I find the topic of our relationship to work fascinating and at the core of much of the work I do. Our relationship to our work is an externalisation of our relationship with ourself. Work can sometimes play a role of providing experiences for us that we cannot provide for oursleves, and sometimes play a role in learning new experiences and behaviours that we can only delevope so far on our own. Good work places recognise both these possibilities. By practising human values that encourage expression, risk taking and accountability they can provide the type of physical ‘community’ that our nuclear mobile lives have displaced in many western cultures. Communites are central to what it is to be human. We need them to understand and live our our purpose. Online activities such as this, gaming, texting etc are all our attempts to connect in that way. But they cannot substitute for contact, and what contact does to us intenrnally that nourishes and enriches (whether through conflict or congruence).

  • annette April 28, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    Thanks Jeremy – and thanks for your lovely thoughts also. I think we don’t spend enough time experiencing the emotional connection we have to work and our relationships there. I’m all for computer mediated communication – without it I wouldn’t be in some fabulous relationships, but it’s only as useful as the human connections that it facilitates and I’ve been struck by that so much on this current trip to New York – perhaps this is part of the subject matter of that podcast we need to schedule? What is it that those of us who work with people around relationship issues are actually trying to achieve?