Identity and Work: Lessons from Bryan Stevenson
You may have seen Bryan Stevenson’s TED Talk that has been circulating. He has an excellent and inspirational voice indeed, and I encourage you to watch it. I’m posting it not only because it is a compelling case for confronting injustice in the world, but also because Mr. Stevenson poignantly calls on each of us to connect our own identity to our beliefs and actions.
Defending convicted felons and murderers tends not to be a cause that social justice advocates and philanthropists are only hesitantly drawn to, and yet, Mr. Stevenson draws in his audience in by weaving his own story through the mission of his work and the state of his clients’ lives.
So, the challenge to you is to write an identity statement of some kind and link it to your beliefs about justice. In doing so, carefully consider where your beliefs, motivations, and actions come from and what continues to inform them. How can you draw people into what you believe?
Connection and Conversation: Lessons from Sherry Turkle
This TED Talk by Sherry Turkle, which is also summarized in this New York Times article, delves into how an over-reliance on technology (think text messaging, facebook, twitter, even email) can trick us into thinking we are building relationships while simultaneously pulling us away from authentic conversation, face-to-face connection, and real communion with others.
It is easy to slip into a routine where we avoid real conversation because quick “connection” is easier, cleaner, less messy, etc. I think we all do it! But the habit can leave us feeling lonely and isolated as Dr. Turkle points out… and it can unfortunately become a dangerous cycle.
You may have the privilege of working in places in which face-to-face conversation is the only way because technology is not in place. Have you ever thought of this as a good thing? What are the positive sides of not having technology to rely on?
The second challenge to you—regardless of the context in which you are living or working—is to identify a few relationships or even areas of work in which you can prioritize and/or redefine the way you view in-person conversations or even phone conversations. (Note: This can be harder than it seems. Notice what comes up when you try to do this and think of it as a jog or a meditation... you may get a cramp or not be able to quiet your mind, but in accepting that and keeping at it, you will get through and likely reap the benefits in the end.)
Perry, Associate Director