Work: What is being asked of us and the work that's ours to do [3/3]
The gifts of "wintering" + the world of fully decentralized work
What are we not hearing that’s being said?
“Wintering brings about some of the most profound and insightful moments of our human experience. Wisdom resides in those who have wintered.”
KATHERINE MAY | Wintering
In her timely book Wintering, Katherine May details the inevitable and constant cycle of our lives where we face often involuntary and painful or challenging experiences that bring necessary change. She suggests a guiding philosophy for reframing how we relate to slowing down, pausing, retreating, and rearranging when we are in the process of wintering. To embrace this time when we’re invited to care for and repair ourselves. To show up when life forces a reckoning.
And although it can be incredibly uncomfortable for us as humans — and we resist wintering with everything we have — it’s an essential process that gives us the space to deeply reflect, shed, replenish, and recuperate. The space that allows the endings we so badly need, so that we can bring on the immense possibility and beauty of new beginnings.
These times, when we winter, “they are real and they are asking something of us.”
What we have experienced over the last nearly three years has been the wintering of our lifetimes.
What has this wintering asked of us at work? What has it asked of us as humans? What have we been invited to change? What have we shed? What have we allowed to be born? What is the “essential and radical act” we are still resisting? What are we not hearing that is being said?
This pandemic has been a wintering that has ushered in urgency. Presenting to us, once again, the things we’re not listening to. The things we’re still not hearing. The uncomfortable endings we still need to build the courage to bring.
In the last two editions of Auxiliary’s future of work series: Work: the reckoning and the unravel and Work: the conditions we’ve created and the future of leadership we’ve surfaced what’s getting in the way of us doing our best work. We’ve challenged you with essential and radical actions we can no longer resist doing:
Slow the tap and adjust strategy
If we are serious about changing the conditions we say we don’t want, those of us who have the authority, power, and privilege to slow down and better distribute the work need to step in. It’s our responsibility to examine the pace and the load we’re putting on our workforce, how work is shared, and co-create better ways of working that we trust our employees to own. Where is the pressure coming from? What are the stories we’re telling ourselves about what has to be accomplished and when? What adjustments need to be made? This starts with the questions we’re asking ourselves about where and how work gets done.
Skill ourselves with relational leadership
It’s time to finally stop equating what we do, make, or produce with who we are and our worthiness as humans. We have been given the opportunity to build the muscles to validate ourselves. As organizations, it’s our responsibility to provide every individual in our companies — not just managers — with the skills and tools of relational leadership so we all have the capacity to value and trust ourselves and others. The relational leadership that requires us to examine our relationship with ourselves, the people we influence and lead, and the inequitable systems we use to do our work.
When we have this in place, we can center our technology, systems, and the processes and pathways we use to do our work around the health and well-being of our people, allowing all of us to do our best work. This includes redesigning our individual and team operating rhythms so that we are intentionally leaving space to process the fears, feelings, stories, and tensions that come with our extremely uncertain and complex environments.
Actively shift diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging
It’s our turn to listen to what our employees are asking of us; especially the things that are hard for us to hear or will require work. From here forward, begin every decision or system we are shaping with a diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging lens so we are creating the conditions in our environments — not just programs — where all humans feel like we belong. Software will not unlock this. Another process will not make this change. Honest, vulnerable conversations — where we acknowledge the pain we may have caused, claim accountability for where we’ve been wrong, and co-create actions for forward movement — will.
Honor the human and the machine
If this wintering has provided us with one gift, it’s the acknowledgement that there is deeper work for us to do than outfit our home offices and choose the best software for virtual collaboration for our distributed workforce. We absolutely must consider how we adapt our organizations for the future, and we must honor both our needs as humans and the systems and machines we rely on to thrive in our work. There’s no doubt AI will play a role in every company’s future, but if we don’t “confront silos, fragmented legacy systems, add capabilities, and retool [our cultures]” we will continue to struggle.
“The changes that take place in winter are a kind of alchemy, an enchantment performed by ordinary creatures to survive.” - Katherine May
We may not always get to choose when wintering is going to happen, but we absolutely get to choose how we move through it and what we do with the gifts it brings. It’s up to all of us to reshape our leadership and our organizations for the future, now.
Everything we’ve learned about the future of work in this recent three-part series is just a precursor for what the world could be.
We will spend the next three editions of The Auxiliary further exploring our future — a new world of Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs), Web3, and a tokenized system of work.
Web3 is on our horizon and will fundamentally change how we work. Web3 brings a world of fully decentralized work. Not hybrid work — or work from anywhere — but a new world empowered by Web3 where Decentralized Autonomous Organizations will be the standard way of operating; how groups, businesses, communities, and individuals will connect and gather to solve common problems.
We hope you’ll continue this journey with us where we offer expansive thinking and perspective on progressive ideas and topics. Topics that are integral to shaping a new era of business and innovating into a more inclusive future.
- Mack & Mat