Monday, October 13, 2008

A Priori Pessimism

I have circled back to thoughts I shared in the second post I made in this blog back in June of 2005; a comment by what has turned out to be a great friend and mentor over the past few years,

"I cannot intellectually justify a priori pessimism"

In other words, it is intellectually lazy to assume a negative outcome based on little or no data. Take a moment to let that sink in, let it wander around in your mind; keep repeating the phrase. It starts to make a lot of sense at least to my rational side. For some of the optimists out there, this is no great revelation.

I took that phrase to heart as I decided to have a conversation with my manager to reveal my passion for sustainable business and desire to integrate some of its tenets in my work, fueled by my desire to make some changes that would improve my potential for personal sustainability. To my surprise (in hindsight it makes complete sense) the conversation went very well and I was thanked for my honesty. My decision to talk about it instead of hiding and potentially leaving unexpectedly (as someone recently had) was a good one. From that initial positive experience I moved on to other conversations within the organization to explore the possibilities; to ask the questions I have always thought about but assumed would go nowhere. What was revealed was the need to fill a position that may offer some of the short-term stability I seek as well as learning about product management, yet may fall short of "officially" integrating susbiz duties in my work (what does "officially" really mean?).

Consistent with the title of this post, the conversations I had provided valuable insight to the situation. From a personal perspective, bringing my authentic self to the conversation was a powerful thing. I have not done that in the past, feeling that "work related" conversations are to be made with shielded emotions. Yet, I found when I brought more of my emotions into the conversation, something that carries some risk, I felt more powerful in the conversation and I believe the people I spoke with respected my honesty and integrity. The fact that the concept of "sustainability" as something "new age" and beyond the scope of the organization at this point (I wonder what assumptions are built into their language?) is something good to know. Perhaps I am falling into the same trap, assuming that these conversations somehow reflect the sentiment of the entire organization. That does not make any sense; our division represents something like 6% of the overall revenue for the corporation.

There are many more inquisitive conversations to come, with customers, fellow employees, and members of other divisions of the company.

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