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Step away from the spreadsheet… we're about to get scandalous

Step away from the spreadsheet… I’m about to drop some scandalous feedback.... Tongue-in-cheek attitude aside, desire and joy may just be 9 little letters, but they are crucial ingredients at work.

Desire--the word that often connotes sex, or at the very least incarnate pleasure--is certainly not something we talk about a lot during the hours of 9-5. My HR partners may already be wringing their hands… sounds like a lawsuit waiting to happen.

And joy? Forget about it! The stuff of childlike abandon into total, delicious satisfaction with the creative process… isn't that what famous artists or world-renowned scientists do? Sure, philosophically it sounds great but clearly, Dr. Sara, you’ve never been to a meeting at our office… it’s fine and all, but joy?!?! Yeah, not so much.

OK, a little healthy kvetching and dis-belief is understandable. Now… do you want world-class programs, products, and projects… or not?

Feel free to let that question be both rhetorical and literal.

Why would it be rhetorical? Well, you don’t need me to tell you that some people go to work to collect a paycheck. And that’s not new--Doling out protection and provisions for labor has existed in a variety of histories and social situations over the centuries. It’s a major debate of our current global economic system (stay tuned for a rundown on race and the economy…).

And why would this question--do you want world-class programs, products, and projects… or not?--be literal?

Creating something isn’t that hard. Take writing, for example. I’m pretty good. And I’m getting better. Because I practice. Because I love to show up to the question. I am a humble servant of sharing ideas for our mutual feasting. I submit my heart and mind to the process.

But creating world-class… that is a forever project. Creating programs, products, and projects that sing with clarity, that speak to the moment, that meet the client/user at the place they didn’t even know they were craving to be touched… that’s art. It’s profundity. It’s why some programs, products, and projects change everything. And it’s why a product can change everything in one market and not in another, or for one decade and not in another, or with one generation and not with another.

But… you protest… isn’t that just good old-fashioned hard work? Isn’t it elbow grease? Or blood sweat, and tears?

There’s a difference, my friends, between gulag-style hard labor and giving of yourself to something you feel in your bones… it’s bigger than you or me… you’d do it even if you didn’t need the money… you’d do it even if no one else cared. Not because it’s easy. In fact, it’s probably really hard because it’s probably really important. It’s not joyous because it’s as easy as ordering a cocktail poolside. It’s joyous because you feel alive--the pleasure is that of meaning.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, don’t panic. It’s pretty normal to take a long time--sometimes decades--to unwind all the misleading messages about playing it safe, coloring in the lines, fitting in, and otherwise dumbing yourself down. And no judgment if that’s your choice. Everyone gets to decide what works for them. You have my full endorsement for whatever you choose.

But I will ask… how’s that working out for you?

Research tells us that desire is a bit like the delicious side of pain. Desire is a benevolent disquiet, one that tells you “you’re not done yet!” Yes, you hit the deadline, yes you checked the boxes, yes you got your funding round or your IPO, yes you’re doing “well.”

But you know, sometimes in a whisper and sometimes in a yell, that there’s so much more. Sure, more money and more acclaim. Because that’s what comes out of world-class. And world-class comes out of more YOU. Your desire, your joy… because those are the ingredients. The world doesn’t need your micro badge or your headshot. The world needs your bravery.

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