“I figured it out. You figure it out.”
One of my favorite quotes was told to me by an old friend, Austin Kleon.
He was talking about some famous writer, call him Fred, who was at a book reading event at Barnes & Noble.
A young person in the audience asked him (And Fred ALWAYS gets asked this by young folk, every time, like clockwork) how he first managed to achieve what is the Holy Grail for creatives- the ability to balance making proper art and making a good living, in spite of all the impediments society puts in his way. Secondly, the young person wanted to know what advice Fred could give this young person that related specifically to her own individual case, etc.
“No idea, “ Fred said. “I figured it out. You figure it out.”
That’s the thing. No matter what magic formulae that might be out there already, and no matter what profession we choose for ourselves- artist, writer, entrepreneur, doctor, lawyer, etc.- a lot of it is just figuring it out for ourselves, in our own way.
And there’s no shortcut for this. At first, that’s a scary and intimidating idea, but in the end, Hallelujah that this is the case.
It isn’t just news media and political groups that need to take note of the mismatch between polled behavior and actual behavior. This moment should also serve as a wake-up call to businesses. The systems our society uses to measure how people feel simply aren’t, at some level, working. That includes the surveys organizations use to try to gauge the sentiment of their workforces.
Through my work helping businesses of all kinds, from tech companies to the U.S. military, design successful workplace cultures, I run into this problem all the time. The internal data businesses collect gives them what they believe is a clear impression of whether their employees are feeling engaged and satisfied.