In the flow: Getting connected to something bigger than the individual cubicle

Do aspiring employees need to be from California to tap into the cosmos to find a more satisfying job or career? During a conversation with a colleague who seemed disconnected from the flow – she was succeeding in her narrow role but felt isolated from the broader direction or strategy of her business unit – I said, to my utter amazement, “you’ve got to tap into the universe. You need to feel part of the natural flow of a system, like the planets or stars in the solar system or the Milky Way.” Honestly, I’ve never said this before to anyone or even to myself, and I’m from California. But I had this image of the Milky Way in my head, this cloudy system of stars and planets, all interdependent and yet moving about in some natural pattern.

Now, that’s as far as I want to take this metaphor. My message had do with our desire to be, or feel, a part of something bigger than ourselves, our need to feel less isolated, to be independent yet somehow aligned.

It’s a manager’s job to drive the alignment of each individual’s role to the broader direction and goal of the business. It’s the employee’s job to understand the role they play and push for greater clarity if there’s any doubt – and to find a way to connect their jobs to the pursuit of career or life goals.

This is not just an intellectual exercise. Ultimately, it’s about experiencing a satisfying career, building efficiency into the system, and unlocking the force of an organization. Talk about disconnects. I can still see the quizzical look on the face of my colleague when I started to talk about the cosmos.

For more on the subject, try re-reading William H. Whyte (The Organization Man), watching the old movie, The Apartment, by Billy Wilder, and reading anything by the Japanese novelist, Haraku Murakami, who taps into our feelings of isolation from the larger world.