Written June 30, 2015

On 'Your Future' at Work

Somehow the impermanence of life in the theater made it OK to talk about “the future”. Most of us talked freely about what we were going to do when we finally left. Start our own businesses. Go to work for that ‘other’ shop. Go back to school. Get out of Theater all together. We all changed jobs and frequently; some of us every 6-8 weeks and the impermanence was, comforting.

But life’s different now.

I find myself much less willing to talk openly about my plans for the future.
Working in a traditional business environment has this stagnating effect. It slowly fills your grey walled cube with molasses, until one day you have this sinking feeling of despair, or anxiety, or rage, or a little of all three and you think you - Just. Want. Out. I am no where near the molasses filled cube stage; but, I do worry that the pressure to suppress discussions about the future, my future, weights on my creativity and the problem is - it’s bad for business.

At work you have the people you share water cooler pleasantries with, and those you Foosball with, and those you eat lunch with, and those you sneak that 3:30 beer with. And minus the first group, these are people you spend a lot of your day with. They see you, active in the workplace. They feel your moods, they deal with your snide comments, they listen to your rants - and some of them are the best folks to help counsel your career. But here, in America, we are discrete. We don’t talk pay. We don’t open up to our managers. We cower under the threat of being fired for taking an interview at that ‘other’ company - it’s bad for business.

But after we have been secretly interviewing for months, began dreaming about the new possibilities, stopped caring about the old responsibilities and have made plans for our families, our homes and our lives, we quit. Sometimes our employers see it coming and are ready, other times we leave our thinly provisioned teams in a lurch as we cart away institutional knowledge and overstuffed baggage of battles long forgotten - it’s bad for business.

Then those left behind begin to interview. They throw problems about gold coins and pirates on the white board with menacing pleasure. They ask benign behavioral questions to see if you were cast in a similar image. They reluctantly hire those who most resemble what they imagine is in the mirror - it’s bad for business.

And so the cycle repeats.

This post was inspired by some reading I have been doing of late and I encourage you to check out these wonderful posts/articles/etc. I don’t agree with all of it, but there is plenty of food for thought.