A lesson from cancer

Fast Company | coping – Dan Hanson

Funny how cancer cuts through the b.s.

Here’s an article from Fast Company about a guy who got cancer, and it changed his whole outlook on the workplace, among other things. Another inspriing story from a survivor and instructive about work.

Some quotables:

The medicine treated his disease; the reflection dealt with something deeper. Hanson realized that his hard-won promotion was, in fact, a serious misstep. Instead of sticking with what he loved — working closely with people and helping them find connections with their colleagues — he had moved into a corporate position that required him to look at companies and at people as numbers: assets to increase, cut, or exchange.

According to Hanson, when people don’t find meaning or meaningful relationships at work, the problem isn’t with the people — it’s with oppressive work environments that stifle creativity or with unhealthy work relationships that keep colleagues at odds with one another. Companies that want to foster internal communities must restructure their organizations and change how coworkers interrelate.

…you have to remember that community must come from the grass roots, rather than from the top down. “People feel better when the organization succeeds because of them,” Hanson says, “not because somebody in management decided that the company was going to follow some program.”

If you want to create more meaning in your workplace, where do you start? Dan Hanson suggests that you begin by discussing the undiscussable: Convene a group to talk about what is getting in the way of work relationships. “You need to go on a shadow hunt,” he says, “and clear out all of the old assumptions.” Be specific about what’s getting in the way: Which processes work? Which ones don’t? What should we do more of? And what should we do less of? “You need to pinpoint what’s wrong with how you think about work: What you do to one another that gets in the way of relationships,” Hanson says.