Want To Learn About Yourself? Get To Work.

Peter D. Kramer is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Brown University. Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Karmer observes how work and one’s work environment shapes one’s world.
The observations are obvious, but I like the way the professor describes things.

When it functions well, the office teaches all of us when to stand our ground and when to be strategic. We learn that decisions don’t always go our way. The workplace says, “Aw, get over yourself.” Since on the job we’re focused on performance, we are likely to do just that, to absorb advice and move on.
It’s not only the workplace that acts on us; it’s also the work. Even solitary enterprises ground us. Consider writing. There are styles of writing that show contempt for readers, as if maintaining their interest, charming and seducing them, were incidental to the task. Doing the job–developing an inviting voice–entails locating, even re-locating the self. Always, there are technical problems, with word choice, pacing and story lines. The material resists our efforts. The same is true for the contractor’s brick and building codes. Confronting what we work in, we discover our strengths, and we learn humility.

I’ve always found the agency environment to be a petri dish for conflict. On a good day, it’s also a great place for conflict resolution.
What are you experiencing at work right now? Harmony or strife? Shame or glory? And how is it making you a better, strong person? Come on, your colleagues near and far want to know.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.