Laughing Between The RoundsAnyone attempting to change careers or re-career will not survive without a sense of humor. A job search today could be described with the terms "difficult" and "despairing". And the survival path is laid out with sign posts reading: persistence and problem solving. All in all, humor becomes crucial to our well being because it frees us up to be creativity. Humor provides a breathing space between moments of rejection or dejection, humor is an aid to renewal.
The spirit of laughter disrupts the serious routine, clearing out the cloudy and ponderous atmosphere. After exercising great self-control during the networking game, playing phone tag, and participating in the verbal jousting of interviewing contest; one needs a "humor pill," or release.
Often humor is associated with creativity or creative work groups. Call upon your playful side, and suddenly the barriers and problems you took for granted collapse before wild brainstorming sessions, outlandish proposals, and the germ of new ideas. Every good manager knows that new ideas and tense situations are more easily digested when humor spices the presentation.
Humor is also a proven healer of physical, social, and psychological ailments. This is why it is important "jest for the health of it." Depressed people often have no sense of humor. Job seekers slipping towards that dark malaise would do well to practice some preventive medicine and make an effort to inject humor and playfulness into their life or in a personal journal.
One way of injecting humor involves myth making.
Time For Myth MakingIn the book God & The Big Bang, Author Daniel Matt suggests we possess a deep need for myths and myth-making. He points out that while science and religion both try to explain things, they rarely compliment each other. Myth could provide the bridgework between spiritual and secular interpretations of the world. Myth is a vehicle for understanding. It uses exaggeration, humor, and drama to break the bonds of everyday assumptions. Myth employs a simple storytelling motif in its attempt to tell us why things are the way they are.
Many students of culture and history suggest that a society lacking a mythology will also tend to lack a sense of meaning. Therefore, I assert that it is time to make merry with myth. Let me offer Digital Eden as an example of how easy it is to adapt older myths to contemporary times.
Digital Eden -- An Updated Myth
One day during lunch break, God appeared with a magic collection of boxes. He said, "Behold workers of Eden, I have given you a place to dwell which knows not the difference of work and play, nor other distinctions like male and female. This place can remain a paradise if you obey the rules.
I am giving you these magic boxes for use in a distant future. Someday, when you are ready, we will use them to change the way you work... but not now. The boxes must first learn from you as you toil. Just continue as you have; ignore the little boxes for now."
It was a mighty temptation.
Later, a serpent with dark horn-rimmed glasses and unwashed, greasy hair appeared. He called himself Billy the Gate. Billy approached one of the female workers, asking, "Did you notice the switch on the box? If you flick it on, the CD-ROM will come alive and perform miracles for you."
But the woman was not impressed, and remembered how the last serpent had gotten her in trouble with an apple. She returned to her work. "Did I mention that it comes with a remote control?" Those words caught the attention of a male worker who rushed to the box and flipped on the switch.
A terrible churning and grinding was heard as a hundred billion boxes now booted up their hard drives. An eerie glow emanated from the glass monitors. The light was so intense it lit up every corner of the workplace. Now for the first time, people could see the differences in anatomy, age, and race. They became conscious of their positions in the workplace. Eventually all the workers donned an appropriate uniform to match their occupation. They also divided into different political parties, formed unions and management associations. They ceased eating together (except at Christmas). Many began to find their work boring and tiring. Others became distracted and disgruntled, and the first complaint box appeared. Then people called lawyers filed sexual harassment, discrimination, and wrongful practice lawsuits. Work continued to grow poorer in quality as people began to work by the hour and for something called money.
As time wore on, the difference between work and play became grew more distinct. People soon took refuge from their labors in something called the weekend. Eventually, even the weekend became a hectic affair.
Many eons later, Billy's smiling interface appeared on all the screens at once. He announced something called "Windows 95." He ended by suggesting, "Leave the work to me and my machines."
When God saw what his employees had done, he was greatly angered. He sent down robotic angels to carry out his wrath. They destroyed Eden and all of its inhabitants except for one woman and one man. Then God spoke, "I cast you out of Eden's Workplace to wander aimlessly forever in search of work." Today, the man and woman spend endless days filling out applications, writing resumes, and networking with the beasts of the world. And though they have searched for permanent work these many eons, they can only find temporary positions in the year 2000. As the 21st Century gets born, we find a great irony, machines are busy working, while humans huddle and wonder about their future.
Storytelling During Your Job SearchToday, interview experts urge us to get into a story-telling mind-set when answering the initial interview question: Tell me about yourself.
Career columnist and author Joyce Kennedy urges people to think of the job interview as "performance art." She advises her readers to think of themselves as actors who must research their part (read: self-assessment and target companies), rehearse for the part (read: interview preparation), and finally give a "show-stopper" performance.
Paul Green, a renowned expert on behavioral interviewing, concurs and suggests that candidates dish up dramatic stories when asked to tell about their background. He suggests making one's life-story fresh and interesting.
Green goes as far as suggesting the use of the myth structure when describing one's work history. He argues that this structure lends a certain drama wherein the speaker offers background which leads to a conflict and ends in a resolution. This structure can be particularly effective for job seekers who have experienced outplacement. The story of shock, re-grouping, struggling to acquire a new skill or a new direction, and the resolve to re-engineer one's career is a powerful story line.
Perhaps it's time to write your own work history in mythic or story-telling terms. You can take a portfolio to your next interview to illustrate your story.
ConclusionThe German playwright Bertolt Brecht believed that our art --our stories-- should help us explore "the terror of our unceasing transformation." I hope that my updating of older myths helps contribute to this important task. Behold Digital Eden probes our love-hate relationship which circumscribes our constantly evolving technology. We love the new gadgets and then later find ourselves enslaved to them. I hope that my updated myth will grant us a moment of detachment, a bitter-sweet pause, wherein we ponder how we got to where we are... consider the alternatives... and envision where we hope to go next.
Write your own myth about the job search or your workplace. Give it a happy ending and reclaim the smile which graces our lips so effortlessly.
A shorter myth is contained in another article
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