Reading Notebook #12: Existential Angst at Work

From Kenny Moore’s blog post, “Losing Your Job? Psychological, Spiritual & Practical Advice.

This is the most meaningful discussion I have ever read about what causes angst/anxiety at work. Must-read. (All of Kenny Moore’s posts are valuable and thought-provoking; he’s a former monk who now counsels corporates.)

In corporate life, if you’re good at solving problems, we promote you. Once this happens, you’re no longer dealing with problems; you’re now responsible for managing “Predicaments.” These are the imponderables of business life. The dilemmas of complexity and uncertainty. This is the realm of ambiguity and unintended consequences. There’s no ready answer, yet you must take action, knowing full well that no matter what course you choose, it’s not going to be sufficient. Yet, you’re still accountable for results and responsible for making decisions. It often has the feel of taking two steps forward and one step back. …

After a day spent dealing with predicaments, you go home feeling weary and vulnerable. You recognize that no matter what actions you take, what decisions you make, they’re never enough. But you’re still responsible and your career hangs in the balance. When you sit down to dinner you tend to over drink and get in arguments. At night, your sleep is interrupted by fear and insecurities. You wake up the next day, tired and reluctant to head back to the office where the intractable nature of predicaments awaits you.

What helps in dealing with predicaments is if we can get focused on the right question. … A big part of the work I did with my CEO was to help the company get focused on the right questions. Many of them tended to be too small; too self-serving; too myopic. What’s needed are large, engaging and often over-arching questions. “How do we increase profits?” is too small a question to be asking.

Click here and go read the entirety of the post.

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