Keep Your Spirit Alive

I created this back during the summer for myself and I wasn’t so sure why at the time. It was simply an inspirational quote that I had come up with, attached to one of the Captain America movie wallpapers. Now I think I get it. To me it represents the external influences that are pressured on us daily and how we need to resist them to defend our sense of self-identity and spirit. And if anything, this is doubly true while we are at work.

Creativity energy can be birthed from a variety of emotions.

Update June 7/12: I’ve been thinking about this some more. More than anything I think we need to resist apathy. It is the silent killer today that is turning us symbolically into zombies without us ever realizing it because of its creeping normalcy. What can we do to fight apathy? Anything that makes us feel alive. This means letting our feelings flow through us and savouring them. It doesn’t matter if we’re happy, sad, or mad. The trick though is obviously to let them flow through you, your heart, without letting them influence and affect your mind in a negative way. This is why in times of sorrow or anger, I try to utilize that emotional energy in a positive way, rather than letting it eat away at me in a negative way. If you look at a lot of amazing creative artists in the world today or in its history, you’ll see that they emulate this same approach. Creativity energy can be birthed from a variety of emotions.

Inspirational Work

I’ve been thinking about how I naturally want to gravitate to positions where I’m helping to create a positive culture within an organization through training and inspiration. This in turn got me wondering if there are any companies out there who actually are inspirational or create inspirational products themselves. What’s important to realize though is what I define as “inspirational” because it’s often misinterpreted with the other word “innovative”. To me, something that is inspirational gives someone a new perspective on life thus allowing them to both solidify and stabilize it through empowerment. In effect, if it doesn’t make their life better by making them feel more whole and complete then it’s not inspirational to me. For example, there are a lot of great innovative products out there that do amazing things but for the most part they don’t empower you, making you more independent. If anything, they weaken and fracture your life, making you more reliant upon them. Put another way, an inspirational product should empower people with what they already have, like a great tool, rather than empower them via an external dependent source that if cut off leaves them neutered and useless.

…an inspirational product should empower people with what they already have…

Quickly doing a search on the Web for “inspirational companies”, I found a listing of Most Inspiring Companies as indicated by “an online survey of 1,752 consumers”. After looking at the list, I thought to myself “If these are the most inspiring companies in the world right then we as a society are in serious trouble.”  Other than TOM Shoes which I wholeheartedly believe is inspirational, most of these companies are some of the largest and greediest corporate companies in the world. If they do anything that’s good it’s only because it directly helps their profit or brand image. For example, I’ve worked at Starbucks and it was one of the most worst experiences in my life. So much so that it scarred me psychologically and almost irreparably damaged my values and internal cultural compass. That’s because there wasn’t one ounce of authenticity or caring in the experience. They basically treated their employees like they were machines and their training program was nothing but a “sink or swim” approach.

Doing another search for “inspirational products”, again I didn’t find much. At the top of the list was Apple’s products which without a doubt I find highly innovative and enjoyable to use but still I wouldn’t go so far as to say they are inspirational. Yes, without a doubt, devices like the iPad and iPhone are changing the way we live but are they truly empowering us in a way that we feel more whole and independent within our lives? Again from what I’m seeing, these devices are no different from other computers in their ability to distract us and if anything they distract and fracture us even more so because they are so mobile and are with us all the time now. No, if anything, these devices are just stepping stones to something much more powerful that will hopefully give us the ability to see relational and contextual data in a completely new way, thus causing a paradigm shift which alters our world view and in turn provides us with the inspiration to see things in a completely new light.

Until then though, even though I have a strong sense of self-identity, I’m still not fully sure of the path I’m supposed to be taking. In effect, I know my passion but my purpose is still somewhat hazy. I have some rough ideas up my sleeve for creating some inspirational things but it still feels like I’m missing something very important and very obvious. One thing that keeps tugging on me time and again though is the way we work right now in our society. It seems completely flawed and outdated to the point that it is fracturing the very humanity of individuals within it, yet we happily plod along as though everything is completely normal (i.e. profits are up!). I fear if something isn’t done soon, we’ll soon be encountering a tipping point where people with their last ounce of humanity will rise up and revolt against the “machine” of present day work practices. At the same time, in the back of my mind, I feel like I intuitively know a better way of working, yet I haven’t visualized it in such a way that it can easily be interpreted by others yet. In other words, until I can easily articulate my vision, I may as well be speaking a foreign language because people won’t be able to grasp it and thus utilize it. Hilariously enough, in thinking about this, you could say that in looking for inspirational work, I’m actually trying to make work more inspirational, so that people can feel like a whole connected human being at the end of their work day rather than a broken disconnected machine.

The Four Temperaments

I’ve been reviewing the four personality temperaments (or “classes” as I like to call them) to understand how they interact as a cohesive team or group and it’s quite intriguing. To understand them more easily, I imagined them as the four separate corps of an imaginary army.

Artisans are the tactical corps. These are the front line soldiers who are “concerned with the conduct of an engagement” (i.e. a battle within a war).

Rationalists are the strategic corps. These are the high command soldiers who are “concerned with how different engagements are linked” together (i.e. the overall war).

Guardians are the logistical corps. These are the support soldiers who ensure the front line troops have the resources and security they need.

Idealists are the diplomatic corps. These are the cultural soldiers who are responsible for the training, counseling and morale of the entire army. In effect, they are the spirit corps or heart of the army.

As a Healer under the Idealist “diplomatic” corps of this army, I find it interesting how it compares quite closely to my past experiences. For example, when I played Counter-Strike, I was one of the leaders of our clan but not in the regular sense. Instead of being the figurehead leader, I was the leader behind the scenes who served to maintain the integrity of the unit. So I focused on the growth and development of people, ensuring they got the right training in the game, and more importantly I ensured a positive collaborative environment that fostered a high sense of moral and appreciation for everyone, no matter their status with the clan. In other words, I was like the chief cultural officer of the clan (if you visualized it as a corporate business).

And this is even more interesting because this is exactly how I acted when I was a Senior Web Developer at a firm in the past as well. In effect, I was a hub for people, assisting them in a variety of ways, primarily in a personal growth and development process (i.e. mentoring, training, guiding, etc) but also with regards to operational efficiency (i.e making the whole better and more stable). Most important of all, I was a strong “advocate” for our staff, ensuring they got the appreciation and recognition they deserved. For example, whenever we’d go out for lunch, I’d try to cover the bill if I could and if it was someone’s birthday, I’d always try to run out and get them a birthday cake at lunch time as well. Again looking back, I felt like I was naturally responsible for the spirit, heart, or culture of the company as a whole, ensuring that everyone was feeling valued and everything was progressing in a positive direction.

Healer Idealist

Within the World of Warcraft, my character that I played was a Protection Paladin whose primary role was as a “tank”. Within life, the character that I naturally “play” is a Healer Idealist whose primary role is as an “advocate”. But what does this really mean? Well let me try to break it down into parts, almost as though you were reading a “Player’s Manual” for the “Game of Life”.

Idealist Class

Think of my Idealist temperament as a “class” which is always forward thinking on the possibilities of what could be, thus always wanting to help improve the things around them. To be able to fully understand what needs to be improved though, requires a huge amount of knowledge and understanding. To achieve such things, Idealists utilize their highly evolved intuitions to become aware and understand the complex interactions of the systems around them, no matter if it’s the human body, an organization of many people, or even the software that’s utilized within the organization.

Healer Spec

As a specific variant of an Idealist, a Healer specializes in the ability to “heal” the things around them. And no this doesn’t mean a Healer can somehow cast magical spells to heal people. What it does mean though is that Healers have the uncanny ability to fix or improve things to the point that it almost seems “magically” in nature to others. For example, my family (particularly my mother) says I have an uncanny ability to “heal” them with my hands utilizing massage techniques on their head, hands, and feet. Doing tech support in the past, I’ve had people amazed at my ability to figure out the most bizarre problems and return both software and hardware to its optimal working state. And even as a team lead, I’ve had people amazed at my ability to assist them with process or workflow problems that seem to effortlessly disappear after assisting them.

Advocate Role

Last but not least, my primary role is as an advocate which means I will voraciously defend the causes I strongly believe in. This is one aspect of the Idealist class that can seem quite strange to people, as an Idealist can quickly go from being very laid back and easy going to almost bearish in the skip of a heartbeat, if they feel their causes are being attacked in any way, shape, or form.