Résumé 2.0: Revealing the Meaning of Our Work

Breaking down the silos and connecting up our lives as a whole.

Last night before I went to bed, I started jotting down things that defined the essence of who I am. I broke these down into What I Do, How I Do It, and Why I Do It.

This morning, I was thinking about how a résumé is structured and how different parts are separated into silos, like your education from your work experiences.

Yet when I started jotting the progression of my life out, something interesting revealed itself to me. I started by writing out my interests as headings (ie games, computers, web, communities, culture, etc). And below each heading, instead of listing What I Did or a How I Did It differently from others, I instead listed Why I Did It. In effect, what compelled me or pulled me into learning each new thing.

When I wrote it out this way, two things happened. I suddenly started seeing connections between everything I was doing and why I wanted to explore and learn new things. And more importantly, I saw a common narrative to my life emerging as a whole. Here’s a small example of what I mean.

Games – As a kid, games let me role “play” with the concept and identity of myself and, in doing so, helped me figured out who I was and express who I wanted to be.

Computers – I got interested in computers because of computer games. I saw a way to explore newer digital worlds and role play within them which again helped me figure out who I was and who I wanted to be. I even learnt how to code to create my own games and simulated worlds to play within, letting me express myself in a whole new way. Later, I found I could use apps for writing, artwork, and music, helping me to express myself in other mediums beyond games. Finally, I got so good at using computers that I helped others with computer problems which impeded them in expressing themselves. I even created a backup system whereby I could remove these impediments for anyone in a few minutes, even if they were of a catastrophic nature.

Web – When the Internet became more prevalent in the early nineties and people started using the Web, I was immediately drawn to it as another medium to express myself but especially one in which I didn’t need any permission to do so, compared to print and television which were fairly gated mediums. Playing computer games, I found the Web was the optimal platform to share my knowledge of the games I was playing, sharing tips and tricks in the process to help others. As a highly introverted person, while playing computer games online with others really brought me out of my shell, it was the Web which really catalyzed this even more so, moving things from an individual nature to a collective one.

Community – Of course the naturally next step after learning how to use the Web was building communities with it online around the computer games I was playing. This was a highly transformational moment in my life. In sharing what I was learning online, I had attracted the attention of others and collectively together we combined our knowledge and created a community for others to learn within and put that knowledge learnt into practice. In doing so, my leadership capabilities naturally seemed to emerge and I started intuitively cultivating the communities I was a part of in a particularly positive way, using knowledge from books I had read decades earlier (ie Tao Te Ching, The Art of War, etc).

Culture – After the Dot-com Bubble burst around 2001 and the web firm I work for imploded, I began to question everything in my life, particularly the way that work worked. After finding and reading The Cluetrain Manifesto and seeing it as a beacon of change that was sorely needed, I reflected back on my online community experiences around playing computer games and wondered why those experiences of teamwork and collaboration felt so amazing in comparison to the conventional offline world of work. The word that emerged for me as an answer was culture. In effect, the patterns of behaviours, beliefs, and values were radically different within these online communities compared to the conventional offline organizations I was working within. To me, the culture in the communities I had helped cultivate felt very natural and open, whereas the culture in companies often felt very stifling and unnatural. What I was beginning to experience here was a way to express the identity of myself not just individually but myself as part of a group collectively.

Now if you look at everything I’ve written above collectively in this small example set, you’ll realize this ongoing connectivity and a sense of “building upon” everything. It wasn’t like I was letting one thing go and starting something else. Each new thing I learnt was added to and expanded upon a larger narrative that was emerging.

Also note how radically different this is from a typical résumé which often doesn’t articulate this depth of meaning. In effect, a résumé lists what a person has done (ie scope of job, achievements, etc) and perhaps may barely touch upon how they do it uniquely but it doesn’t explain why they do what they do. Yet when you do look at this why, this meaning, suddenly you go from seeing a person’s life as just a sequential series of interests that they are leaping between, to seeing the deeper passion and purpose of the person that connects their entire life as a whole.

To me this is essential if we want to start understanding the broader potential of people and understand how they can flexibly adapt to newer interests and skills that relate to the why of their life, making their next leap seem not like an unrealistic stretch but rather a natural progression of their ongoing greater narrative.

In reflecting upon this though, I think a Résumé 2.0 should both strive to maintain aspects of a Résumé 1.0 but also expand upon it becoming something more. Thus the primary focus of a Résumé 2.0 should focus on the why of the person but peripherally on the side of this narrative or thread emerging in there life, the how and conventional what should be shown as well. It’s just that these other things are just no longer the primary focus, their superficial.

Even going beyond this, whereas a Résumé 1.0 strives to show the growth and progression of an individual, a Résumé 2.0 goes beyond this and shows the stable core narrative of a person emerging more and more clearly as they progress through their life, as the essence of who they are. In effect, each new diverse interest and experience shows and emphasizes reoccurring patterns that clearly define the person’s overall life narrative which is more commonly known as their passion and purpose.

In doing this all, we start seeing people, their identity, in a newer, more meaningful way. We start seeing the whole person, a bigger picture of them, rather than just isolated facets of them.

Finally note how this process is mirrored on an organizational level as well, allowing a previously silo’d organization to see itself, it’s identity, in a newer, more meaning way, bringing the organization together as a whole rather than previously seen as just separate parts.

By Nollind Whachell

Questing to translate Joseph Campbell's Hero’s Journey into The Player’s Handbook for the roleplaying game called Life, thus making vertical (leadership) development an accessible, epic framework for everyone.

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