MEANING AT SCALE
If Gapingvoid is about one thing, it’s about finding meaning at work. Making work meaningful. Creating meaning, making work more meaningful, all that good stuff.
Why? Because when I was a kid I had a whole series of crappy day jobs and I realized that I’d have to do something drastic in order to pull myself out of the existential hole I found myself in.
And so eventually Jason, myself and the team began a dialogue. It was our Holy Grail: Meaningful work that paid the bills. You don’t have to be a billionaire, you don’t have to be a rockstar, you just have to kick some ass. *Meaning Scales*.
But for a leader, say, a CEO of a company, how does meaning scale? How do you find meaning for not just for yourself, but for everybody who works for you and beyond?
Wow. That’s a huge question. You’d probably need to write a book to even come close to answering that.
What I will say, is from what I’ve learned on the job, “meaning at scale” is a cultural issue i.e. your company is either culturally engineered for it, or it’s not.
First off, you need to decide what kind of race you want to run. Sure, Gapingvoid has “Culture Design” products and services that can help you with this, but at the end of the day, it’s up to you. Leaders lead. That’s why others get to follow.
Yes, it’s scary. Yes, it’s lonely. But if that is what God put you on this earth for, so be it.
You weren’t planning on an easy life, anyway…
When I first moved to Manhattan in December, 1997 I got into the habit of doodling on the back of business cards, just to give me something to do while sitting at the bar. The format stuck.
All I had when I first got to New York were 2 suitcases, a couple of cardboard boxes full of stuff, a reservation at the YMCA, and a 10-day freelance copywriting gig at a Midtown advertising agency.
My life for the next couple of weeks was going to work, walking around the city, and staggering back to the YMCA once the bars closed. Lots of alcohol and coffee shops. Lot of weird people. Being hit five times a day by this strange desire to laugh, sing and cry simultaneously. At times like these, there’s a lot to be said for an art form that fits easily inside your coat pocket.
The freelance gig turned into a permanent job. I stayed in town for the next two years. The first month in New York for a newcomer has this certain amazing magic about it that is indescribable. Incandescent lucidity. However long you stay in New York, you pretty much spend the rest of your time there trying to recapture that feeling. Chasing Manhattan Dragon. I suppose the whole point of the cards initially was to somehow get that buzz onto paper.
Twenty years later, and I’m still on it. I’ve drawn thousands and thousands of them. I never monetized them, not really, I had to do other things to make a living.
Frankly I’m glad it worked out that way- it’s nice to have pretty much the entire body of work intact as a single whole. It gives the work a magnitude it simply wouldn’t have if the series was all broken up and scattered.
I was having a conversation with an old friend the other day, talking about how if I never had to buy anything ever again, I’d be OK with that. Besides the occasional new shirt or pair of boots to replace the old ones, it seems I already have all the *stuff* I need.
Funny how one spends the first half of one’s life trying to acquire stuff, then once you reach the stage of life where you can buy pretty much anything you want, you find you no longer wanted it anyway.
When my grandfather died aged 80, besides the family farm and household stuff, you could have easily have fitted all his personal possessions into a single trunk. His pipe, his knife, his violin, a few shirts, shoes, trousers and and coats, a few papers and family mementoes, and little else.
I always suspected Grandpa knew something I didn’t.