Reimagining Purposeful Work That Let’s Us Play With Possibilities

Employees who quit have realized this 1 missing thing about their job
Before your employee gives notice, they’ve likely made this personal realization about their sense of security.

According to a recent McKinsey study, one of top reasons people are resigning has nothing to do with compensation, work–life balance, or mental health. One of the top reasons people have resigned is they didn’t feel a sense of belonging at work. And those employees from historically marginalized communities are more likely to say they left because they didn’t feel like they belonged in their organizations.

It’s not the Great Resignation; it’s the “Great Awakening.” Individuals are waking up to the realization that they deserve to be in organizations that respect and support them. Many leaders are busy chasing diversity, equity, and inclusion goals, and wanting to increase the diversity of representation on their teams. Yet those same leaders must be equally focused on ensuring all individuals feel like they have a place in their organizations.

These things actually do relate to mental health though because mental health relates to a sense of well-being which includes have a sense of meaning and purpose in one’s life. Thus if people don’t feel truly valued and connected to something larger than themselves that they’re working on and contributing to, their life is going to feel pretty meaningless and purposeless.

This is why I believe that organizations will have to adapt and become places not just for work but for learning and even play. And by play, I don’t mean something frivolous. I mean play at a higher conceptual level, whereby one is imagining possibilities far beyond the conventional and is given the freedom to explore those possibilities.

That’s what limiting our current world of work and our current possibilities. It’s outdated beliefs that are standing in the way of us, similar to the way most people feel like they spend most of their day having to work around their boss to actually get things done.

The need for innovation – the lifeblood of business – is widely recognized, and imagination and play are key ingredients for making it happen.

John Seely Brown

Work Isn’t Working For Us Anymore But Rather Against Us

4.3 Million Workers Are Missing. Where Did They Go?
The U.S. labor shortage has hit low-paying service industries especially hard, pushing companies to adapt. Many economists expect the shortage to last years, and some think it could be permanent.

Workers are quitting at or near the highest rates on record in sectors such as manufacturing, retail, and trade, transportation and utilities, as well as professional and business services.

Many expect the labor shortage to last at least several more years, and some say it’s permanent. Of 52 economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal, 22 predicted that participation would never return to its pre-pandemic level.

“Our problem is not an economy that doesn’t want to get started—it’s already started,” said Ron Hetrick, an economist at labor analytics firm Emsi Burning Glass. “It just doesn’t have people to make the engine run. We don’t know how to reignite this thing right now.”

Just a wild guess but maybe treat people like human beings rather exploitive assets. When there’s a definitive noticed shift in people feeling like human beings again at work, they will spread the word to others and there will be noticeable return. Until employer’s mindset actually change though in terms of how they perceive and treat their employees, not much will change.

“Work—for me, at least—just wasn’t working for our family anymore,” said Stephanie Schaefer, a 36-year-old mother of two in Riverside, Calif.

Pretty much how I’ve summed up the current concept of work, at least in the conventional sense. Work is no longer working for people. It’s actually working against them and their sense of well-being. So until it changes and realigns with their humanity, not much will change.

“Two years ago I was thinking, I want to get as high as I can on the corporate ladder,” he said. “It just interests me less now if it comes with a sacrifice to my mental health and my connection with my family.”


Adaptive Generalization Through Bridged Specialization

‘Small Data’ Is Also Crucial for Machine Learning
The most promising AI approach you’ve never heard of doesn’t need to go big

Also known as “fine-tuning,” transfer learning is helpful in settings where you have little data on the task of interest but abundant data on a related problem. The way it works is that you first train a model using a big data set and then retrain slightly using a smaller data set related to your specific problem.

Another way of thinking about the value of transfer learning is in terms of generalization. A recurring challenge in the use of AI is that models need to “generalize” beyond their training data—that is, to give good “answers” (outputs) to a more general set of “questions” (inputs) than what they were specifically trained on. Because transfer learning models work by transferring knowledge from one task to another, they are very helpful in improving generalization in the new task, even if only limited data were available.

While this article focuses on machine learning, this same technique works for humans and I’m assuming it was created for machines (AI) to replicate the human ability.

The key thing for this to work though is that the data has to be related in some way. The beauty with humans though is that the relatability can be created from a creative “weak link” which means it will probably only appears relatable to that specific person, based upon their own constructed “space of possibilities” within their mind (see Beau Lotto’s work).

But that’s exactly why it seems creative and innovative to others because they can’t see the connections that bridge the gap between these two things, thus making them relatable.

The whole point of this though is that it shows how we can all adapt in the future and discover work outside our normal domains of knowledge, by seeming similar patterns and principles they transfer between them.

Of course, the only major thing preventing this from happening is people’s biases disbelieving the person’s capacity for the work because they are approaching it from an unconventional angle than the status quo is approaching it.

In fact, as many articles have highlighted recently, this is why many great job candidates are never ever seen by employers because they don’t fit into the limited filter set defined by the job and thus are often filtered out. So exactly the same way people’s biases filter out the potential and possibility of someone being able to do something.


Cultivating Truly “Connected” Workplaces

Mental Health Days Won’t Solve The Great Resignation
Burnout is often framed as the root cause of the Great Resignation, but mental health is only part of the picture. Instead, the Great Resignation is fundamentally rooted in a broken culture of work, and it’s on employers—not employees—to fix it.

The Great Resignation should come at no surprise. In fact, it’s been long overdue. Before the pandemic, leaders of the “Talent War” equipped themselves with trendy workplace perksfrom beer on-tap, to meditation booths, to… surprise trips to Vegas? But amidst the transition to remote work and ongoing global crises, these bells and whistles have lost their luster. Workers are now reevaluating their experience of work itself and seriously reconsidering their jobs as a result.

Burnout is often framed as the root cause to this Great Resignation, but mental health is only part of the picture. Mind Share Partners recently published our 2021 Mental Health at Work Report in partnership with Qualtrics and ServiceNow—a follow-up study to our 2019 Report. From our research, we’ve found that the issue with the Great Resignation is less about mental health. Instead, it’s fundamentally rooted in a broken culture of work.

The Great Resignation isn’t driven by the mental health of employees—it’s driven by employers themselves. Research has long shown that poorly managed workplace factors can cause diagnosable mental health conditions. In our study, 84% of respondents reported at least one workplace factor that negatively impacted their mental health in the past yearmost commonly, emotionally draining work, which was also a workplace factor most commonly reported as having worsened since the pandemic.

We’re at a junction point. Employers must move beyond individualistic approaches to mental health and address the foundational elements of work that have long been left unresolved from work-life balance and flexibility, to a sense of feeling valued and connected, to how an organization’s culture helps—or hurts—the individual employee. And the solution has to work for all of us. Many historically underrepresented and disenfranchised groups still continue to face social, structural, and safety challenges at work. Significant investments in and commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, and justice are all necessary to bring about meaningful change for true mental health equity.

Ultimately, the Great Resignation isn’t a problem for employees to solve, nor cope through. It’s a problem for employers to decide for themselves how much they value their people.

Pretty much spot on. In effect, employers need to stop denying the reality of the workplace that they’ve helped to cultivate. They can change it, with the collaboration of their employees, if they have the courage to do so.


Disbelieving Something Doesn’t Make It Not Real

It’s bizarre to see a Covid patient deny Covid exists while gasping for breath | ICU nurse | The Guardian
We’ve cared for people in their 20s and 30s, and that has been confronting – most of my colleagues are the same age

An article that corresponds with what I said earlier about cognitive dissonance as being why most anti-vaxxers and Covid deniers are thinking and acting the way they are. In effect, completely denying reality, not wanting to believe it or accept it, because they can’t cope with the death and grief of their old way of life and old sense of self-identity.

It’s strange seeing a team that is competent and confident come into a shift with an air of uncertainty, but it’s not as strange as caring for a Covid patient who does not believe Covid exists.

It’s bizarre to watch an individual chastise the nurses and doctors about Covid being fake as they sit on the floor gasping for air while a cytokine storm roars in their lungs. The time between each word is drawn out while they are trying to draw in as many breaths as they can. “Would you like the oxygen back on, sir?” a nurse will inquire after another failed escape. They accept our help back to their room. Regain their breath with help from the oxygen. And then the escape plotting starts all over again. Another patient who was on a ventilator kept telling us Covid wasn’t real after they regained consciousness.

As frustrating as it is, this is not as uncommon as you would hope. A few people are too far down the false information rabbit hole that there isn’t any point trying to convince them otherwise. Heads and brick walls and all that. There’s a name for this condition they share: cognitive dissonance. This is how conflicting information is perceived. A lot of people who are on the cusp of being antivaxxers or Covid deniers are simply undecided because they don’t know what to believe.

It’s really, really sad to read this. I know in my own family, I’ve had some consistently say in the past “Oh, I don’t believe in that” when I talked about something that conflicted with their beliefs. It got so bad that in 2019, a year before the pandemic, I actually said “Mother Nature doesn’t care what you believe.” How prophetic those words seem today.


Misconceptions From Wrong Perceptions & Limiting Beliefs

Misconceptions about science fuel pandemic debates and controversies, says Neil deGrasse Tyson

Schools should teach science as an evolving process — not a series of hard facts, argues astrophysicist

This article pretty much confirms what I said before about how many people are misunderstanding the meaning of things today because they have the wrong perception of things.

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson says some of the bitter arguments about medicine and science during the COVID-19 pandemic can be blamed on a fundamental misunderstanding of science.

“People were unwittingly witnessing science at its very best.… [They said,] ‘You told me not to wear a mask a month ago and now you tell me [to] wear it.… You don’t know what you’re talking about.’ Yes, we do,” the American astrophysicist and author told The Sunday Magazine host Piya Chattopadhyay.

Misconceptions about how science works stems in part, he said, from the fact that it’s often improperly taught at the earliest levels of education.

“People think science is the answer. ‘Oh, give me the answer. You’re a scientist. What’s the answer?’ And then I say things like: ‘We actually don’t have an answer to that.’ And people get upset. They even get angry. ‘You’re a scientist. You should know,'” he explained.

“What’s not taught in school is that science is a way of learning what is and is not true. The scientific method is a way of ensuring that your own bias does not leave you thinking something is true that is not, or that something is not true that is.”

If anything, we should be taught in school how we perceive reality. That we’re not seeing reality directly but with psychological “lenses” that filter and distort what we’re seeing based upon our beliefs.

For example, the mentioning above of “not to wear a mask and then to wear a mask” ties into a conventional belief that if someone changes their mind, it shows they’re not honest and not to be trusted. And yet growth and development at its very core is about changing your beliefs and values, as well as the way you perceive yourself and your world.

So if you believed that people should never change their minds, you would be fostering an environment and culture where no growth or development occurs. You’d want everyone to stay as they are and never change.

But alas, for some people, that’s actually what they want. They want time to stand still, what they know to be enough, and for things to remain permanent as they are.

Yet again that’s the opposite of life and nature itself which is embodied by constant change. The problem is that we’ve been extremely fortunate to live within such a highly stable time frame, that we assume and belief that this is what reality is like all the time.

It’s not. It’s constant change. And without a doubt, over the decades to come, we’ll probably see more change, more often, than some of us have ever seen throughout our entire lives.

And I have no doubt, that in the near future, science will probably have a major breakthrough that will completely redefine our reality and what we believe as a whole, similar to the radical shift that Copernicus had when he realized the Sun was the center of the solar system and not the Earth (which was considered heretical and blasphemous during his time).


Upgrading Your “Game Interface” for Life

Could a psychedelic ego death bring you back to life?
Tripping on mushrooms can make you feel at one with everything. Could that help heal mental illness?

For the first time, she saw her true self — and came to terms with her mortality. “This is who I am. This is how I was born. This is my skin, my fingers, my hands,” says Turner, a 24-yearold in New Jersey who works in patient services and freelances for media outlets. “At some point, this shuts down, but that doesn’t mean that I’m no longer me. I am a spirit. This (body) is a shell, but my spirit is in this shell.” The experience left Turner feeling a sense of unity with everything, which she attributes to what’s known as “ego death.”

A damaged sense of self could also lie at the root of addiction, he adds, in which people might see the self as a failure that just can’t seem to quit. Meanwhile, those with anxiety disorders might deem the self ill equipped to handle certain situations. In generalized anxiety disorder, there’s a fear that harm to the self could lurk around every corner. “It’s all about that interface between me and the rest of the world,” Johnson says.

Because ego death can allow people to “reset” their sense of self in this way, it makes intuitive sense to Johnson that it could be a central facet of the mystical experience thought to underlie the therapeutic potential of psychedelics. Ego death can help you realize you’re more than how you normally define yourself, that you can see your problems from a different perspective, and that you have control over your sense of self, he says — and that’s powerful.

Although your odds of a mystical experience — and the ego death that can come up with it — increases with higher doses of psychedelics, Johnson says it can totally happen without psychedelics, or any drugs at all. He tells me you can experience it through fasting, prayer, meditation, near-death experiences, or simply out of the blue.

As for Turner, she’s still awash in the afterglow of her trip. Now, she can see all the ways in which her ego held her back — emotionally, mentally, and even physically. “I finally feel like I’m living in my spirit, and not in a shell,” she tells me.

Your soul and body are similar to what a player experiences playing a character in a video game. So your soul as the player is seeing what your body as the character is perceiving based upon how it perceives its world and itself, just like a video game interface that gives you information to make choices during gameplay.

The key thing everyone needs to realize is that the “level” you are at in this “game” of life actually defines how you perceive your world and yourself. Thus as you “level up”, your perception of your world and yourself actually changes, thus making it feel like a whole new game. In this way, life as a game is actually like a metagame with a different game at each level to meet your changing needs.

Unfortunately for some of us, who haven’t gotten the “expansion pack” with the newer “levels” yet, they can’t see and comprehend the newer “phased” content yet, so life will probably seem pretty confusing to them right now until they to level up and things start to make sense.

And interestingly enough, one way of levelling up oneself is by psychologically “slaying oneself” as Joseph Campbell talks about in the Hero’s Journey (ie Luke Skywalker slaying Darth Vader but seeing his own face behind Vader’s mask).

As I noted before, this is effectively going through a grieving process for your old sense of self (ie denial, anger, etc) and eventually accepting the death of a self they no longer works as a constructed idea in our present reality. By doing so, you open yourself up to a larger sense of Self which is more in tune and aligned with your soul, thus leading you to begin a quest by questioning your life as a whole.

A simpler way I’ve described this before is as social innovation on a personal scale. “The social innovation achieved by applying creativity to oneself is being oneself. It is a stripping away to reveal and discover the wonder and potential of something already there at the vulnerable core of oneself.”

That vulnerable core is effectively the authentic and real you. You as a soul. The player within us all. The player who isn’t afraid to truly “play” at a level we’ve never imagined before.


Marginalized Masses Awakening & Demanding Human Dignity

Now, as the pandemic has led people to re-evaluate how they live and spend their time, many are also examining their relationship to work. As a result, and in the context of a recovering U.S. economy, a record number of Americans quit their jobs throughout the spring and summer months.

Lim sees this trend as “a great thing,” noting that people are “standing up for themselves,” their personal values and how they expect to infuse purpose into the work they do every day.

What people are calling the Great Resignation, I’m also saying there’s a Great Awakening here.

I believe the future work is human. There are certain things that will take the place of what we do. But let’s not forget the fact that technology is and should be our friend. It’s coming from humans.

We’ve seen the bad sides of technology, but we’ve also seen the good sides. As long as we make good decisions of what jobs we take, how we run our companies, how we manage our teams, if we keep that in check, the future of work can be about technology but rooted in the core of who we are as human beings.

In the next year or two, I think it’ll be really clear that our human needs must be on the same plane as our technological needs. And the more that we can tap into that, the more successful our organizations and teams will be.

It was a reminder that it’s not just our highs in life that we learn from, it’s also our lows. The way we think of happiness being such a universal term, at the same time, this loss and grief everyone experiences is also a very universal term that is not embraced and explored enough.

Indeed, it is these low times that help us stop and reflect on our lives, giving us the potential to step forth onto a new path that can lead us to better highs in life.

So more than anything, people are the ones feeling empowered and driving this “Great Reset”. It’s not the rich 1% as conspiracy theorist would have you believe but rather the marginalized masses who have had enough and are seeking something better and different.


Workers Redefining The American Relationship & Identity

The Great Resignation Is Accelerating
A lasting effect of this pandemic will be a revolution in worker expectations.

As I wrote in the spring, quitting is a concept typically associated with losers and loafers. But this level of quitting is really an expression of optimism that says, We can do better. You may have heard the story that in the golden age of American labor, 20th-century workers stayed in one job for 40 years and retired with a gold watch. But that’s a total myth. The truth is people in the 1960s and ’70s quit their jobs more often than they have in the past 20 years, and the economy was better off for it. Since the 1980s, Americans have quit less, and many have clung to crappy jobs for fear that the safety net wouldn’t support them while they looked for a new one. But Americans seem to be done with sticking it out. And they’re being rewarded for their lack of patience: Wages for low-income workers are rising at their fastest rate since the Great Recession. The Great Resignation is, literally, great.

Leisure and hospitality workers might be saying “to hell with this” on account of Americans deciding to behave like a pack of escaped zoo animals. Call it the Great Rudeness. Airlines in the United States reported that, by June 2021, the number of unruly passengers had already broken records—doubling the previous all-time pace of orneriness. The Atlantic writer Amanda Mull has chronicled America’s epidemic of bad behavior, from Trader Joe’s tirades to a poor Cape Cod restaurant that had to close briefly in the hope that its clientele would calm down after a few days in the time-out box. Cabin-fevered and filled with rage, American customers have poured into the late-pandemic economy with abandon, like the unfurling of so many angry pinched hoses. I don’t blame thousands of servers and clerks for deciding that suffering nonstop rudeness should never be a job requirement.

Look at what we have instead: a great pushing-outward. Migration to the suburbs accelerated. More people are quitting their job to start something new. Before the pandemic, the office served for many as the last physical community left, especially as church attendance and association membership declined. But now even our office relationships are being dispersed. The Great Resignation is speeding up, and it’s created a centrifugal moment in American economic history.

That sentence describing how “even our office relationships are being dispersed” is quite poignant because transformational change occurs by restructuring relationships which in turn redefine a new identity. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about an individual, an organization, or a society being transformed. It all occurs in the same way.


The Right To Be Treated Like A Human Being at Work

Former Restaurant Workers Are Sharing Why They Left The Industry, And Dear Lord, This Is Important
“When everything shut down during COVID-19, I realized how much the place destroyed my mental health.”

I worked back-of-house for almost 10 years. I realized working 60+ hour weeks with no sick days, no benefits, zero breaks, and missing every single family holiday just wasn’t worth the measly check that restaurants provide. Once I left, it was almost scary how it felt to work at a job that actually treated me like a human being.