Once I was taking a walk, with someone who had lived in the East. Slowly approaching on the sidewalk was a bohemian looking woman, calmly and casually walking her pet pig. This was not the most normal of all events, but I would have past her with hardly a comment. He turned to me and said, if this happened in some of the places I’ve lived in, this entire neighborhood would be burned to the ground.
At first I couldn’t believe him, not because I thought he was lying, but because I didn’t even have a framework to understand what he was talking about. Of course, later I understood, that this would have been considered “haraam” or sinful for a large group of people on planet earth. Yes, today!
Same shock of insight happened upon seeing a mature woman in shorts, sitting on her own front lawn weeding her flowers and grass nonchalantly. This too is “haraam” for a large group of people. I had to have it pointed out for me, as it registered only as a non event. I had to be told what to focus on first. I wasn’t even scanning for that as a possibility.
I’m a runner. Just try being a woman running in half the world. Riots. Yesterday I heard for the first time, women in Saudi Arabia are allowed to take gym classes. Not with men, that of course remains unthinkable, but just with and for themselves. Its 2015. Now what does this have to do with culture, whether in your work team or your neighborhood? BIG FREEDOM, asks that question, what is a real culture? Or as a subset, what is a real work culture, whether you’re in the Media or otherwise?
Everyone comes from some kind of “team” a family, group, community, an ethnic, sexual and economic background, a national association. All of these are filled with assumptions: where you come from is right, wrong, best, whatever. It’s very hard for the fish to see the water it’s swimming in.
The way you grew up seems normal to you, but you might look like a martian to the person right next to you. Think about the teams you belong to. Now think about the most irrational and dysfunctional belief of your family/group of origin. That is the mix. You are taking that growing up culture and mixing it with other peoples growing up cultures. We are so international now that we do this dance every day, and believe me, its like being at a dance where everyone is partnered with a person from a different century, who is quite sure that they are dancing correctly and appropriately, and in time, to the real music.
In some families or communities if a woman speaks up she is considered a “” fill in the blank. In others if a man does not, he is considered a “” fill in the blank. We are just at the edge of understanding what real freedom could be, which is each person being true to themselves, not to their culture of origin, but to their own life choices. What I call: BIG FREEDOM, what would it look like? It should push every assumption that every single person has. It has to. Why? Because you can now see YOUR ASSUMPTIONS every day, and you have to CHOOSE THEM, or not, every day.
We all come from somewhere, and each of us has the choice to let go of the dysfunctional assumptions, if they enslave us internally. The teams that are like cults, who fanatically preach all the latest jargon, without understanding the inside life of each individual, can sometimes recruit the most vocal of hurrahs! without getting a real person, which is someone who uses each experience to bring all of their assumptions to the edge of understanding, and then goes beyond them, if they are a trap.
A work culture is a work in process. I’ve seen communities and work forces held together by single people who just had heart and stability through the worst economic crisis, and I’ve seen big fancy groups fail, when the cheerleaders were dismantled along with the corporation which imploded, into its now defunct but perfectly orchestrated PR message.
Choose wisely. Work for the best culture you can. But always know you are at the center of a culture being created. There is nothing “out there” really. You are not responsible for anyone else’s assumptions, whether you like them or not. Culture is an ever evolving inside job, no matter what the job looks like on the outside. What kind of culture do you want to live in? Answer honestly, over and over for the rest of your life. Stay alive inside, then work outside. Stay awake for the duration, thats the real challenge, don’t fall for the jargon. In twenty years the cutting edge jargon will be the dustbin of the past, but your internal realizations and development are the stepping stones to your freedom inside. That’s BIG FREEDOM!