23 July 2005

Role* - Discovering the Passion in Your Work and Life

A number of people have been wondering about my "serious" research, given that the McLuhan stuff is actually more of a sideline for me. I actually use the McLuhan awareness techniques (that I also teach academically and in corporate coaching/facilitating sessions) to think about, theorize and develop praxis for our individual and collective engagement with our workplaces, and the future (that is, a completely new conception) of corporations.

The first major piece began with thinking about McLuhan's observation/prediction that in the electric age, jobs "flip" into roles, and involvement in depth. And I asked myself, what the heck did he mean by this? While it's true that we all play many roles throughout our day - in the workplace, at home and elsewhere - often, many of these roles feel like... well, like jobs! This paradox led me to contemplate roles as a medium, considering not the role itself, but the effects (i.e. messages) we create in our immediate environment as we enact these roles. This, in turn, enabled me to flip around the way we often conceive of roles, and develop the notion of role* (pronounced, "role star").

Here's the general context and idea:
Given the state of stress in North American society, the explosion of self-help and quick-fix approaches that pervade both bookstore shelves and television screens is hardly surprising. The rigours and demands of organizational life add to the stress for the vast majority of people who increasingly are feeling frustrated, alienated and powerless. Aside from various versions of a parent-like admonishment to “suck it up,” little is offered in the way of developing deep personal insight to understand one’s own mechanisms of motivation and deriving satisfaction from one’s occupation. In the meantime, managers, limited by their ability to increase material rewards, are forced to rely on so-called motivational speakers, pseudo-inspirational posters, and faux team-building exercises that are reminiscent of summer camp activities. These are often nothing more than temporary distractions from an environment that actively induces sagging morale.

A response to pervasive problems of morale, motivation and satisfaction arises in the newly conceived notion of role*. It expands and enhances what many usually consider as roles played in the workplace – and elsewhere. Rather than something that can be encouraged – or even imposed – by managers, role* considers motivation from the standpoint of interactions and effects that each of us create throughout our immediate environment. As individuals become aware of the interpersonal dynamics that especially energize and engage them, they can begin to align their work with their characteristic drives. Moreover, they can learn how to take more control over their reactions to situations that may be beyond their ability to change, something that is vitally important in today’s accelerated workplace. For managers who assemble collaborative teams, making personnel choices according to complementary role* dynamics will find members that invigorate and stimulate each other, thereby increasing not only productivity, but overall satisfaction and engagement for all concerned.

Based on new field research conducted at the world-famous Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, the role* approach develops a framework for guided self-discovery, drawing from several diverse, but well-grounded, investigational techniques. These are combined in an original fashion to yield an innovative and remarkably rapid process through which the person can discover the nature of interactions that are particularly motivating and engaging, and those that cause apathy and despair. Each of us can actualize our own personal discovery of role* to take control of how we feel about what we do in all aspects of life.

Discovering role* means discovering your drive, your personal “wins,” and perhaps most importantly, your passion in everything you do.
I have recently begun a private practice in conducting role* discovery conversations with people beyond those who participated in my original research. Is a role* discovery conversation for you? Are you facing an important career decision, or concerned about your career progress to date? Are you considering a new career at mid-life? Or, are you seeking a deeper understanding of what motivates and demotivates you, to figure out why you are sometimes totally engaged and passionate about what you do, and at other times, completely turned off and apathetic. If you are interested in a brand new approach to career and life coaching, please contact me. (My email address is federman-at-sympatico-dot-ca. By the way, the discovery process works equally well face-to-face or over the telephone.)
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As one of Mark's original research subjects for role*, I can attest that the insights gained by this technique are extremely insightful and valuable, and have helped me to find more satisfaction in my present career, plus provide valuable insights on how to cope with change, and to proactively do things that give me satisfaction and a sense of control, even when circumstances might otherwise seem to be beyond my control.

I am *so* glad you are finally talking about this work. It has the potential to help so many people!