Become a Life Change Architect August 19, 2010Posted by randydeutsch in architect, career, change, collaboration, creativity, employment, reading, survival, the economy.
Tags: careers, jobsearch, life change artist, reinvention, the economy, unemployment
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You can feel it in the air.
Studio Assignment #1: Apply the skills you acquired in becoming an architect to design a way out of this mess.
Finding a job – or keeping your current one – is job #1 for many architects today.
But should it be job #2?
I know 2 talented, well-connected out-of-work architects who found jobs this year.
Only to have their firm file Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Maybe our job #1 should be something else?
As in, ourselves.
Assuming we can all take care of our physiological needs –
– though admittedly these days, nothing can be taken for granted.
It may seem that anything other than 100% fixation on the bottom line is foolhardy.
But that’s just not the case.
Until you find that light at the end of the tunnel – however you define it – I am going to suggest you focus on something other than the economy, construction recovery, credit thaw or employment.
And I am going to suggest that you consider becoming something that you already do rather well.
In fact, quite exceptionally – better than most.
Architects right now need empathy and understanding as much as they need work and relief.
Architects need courage and tools to face their situation and this is where a helpful new book comes in.
It offers both.
Heartily endorsed by Daniel Pink, Marshall Goldsmith and Gregg Levoy among others, the book can be read by all ages.
Though one senses the main audience might be what is innocuously referred to as “the third age.”
I posted a while back on the subject of increasingly prevalent thirds – and the third age is one of them.
What I am suggesting is that the answer to our circumstances may just be in retirement – specifically in the literature of self-reinvention.
Third age literature refers to retirement – how to spend our post-work years.
While retirement is not an option for most architects, and very few architects ever plan on retiring at all, perhaps it makes sense to think of our current situation as a third age of sorts.
2. Working pre-great recession
3. Work/Life post-great recession
The book I’m about to introduce you to helps you to plan for your third age – right now.
And by that I mean your post-great recession worklife.
It helps you to see your life as an architect stepping onto an empty lot for the first time – the architect’s equivalent of the blank canvas, blank page or hunk of clay.
The book is based on research into the work processes of artists and over 100 success stories of those who have managed to reinvent themselves under similar circumstances to our own.
Using the very same skills and creativity we use as architects.
While waiting for your next opportunity and for your life to change you can become a life change artist.
Becoming a Life Change Artist: 7 Creative Skills to Reinvent Yourself at Any Stage of Life, by Fred Mandell, Ph.D., an acclaimed personal transformation catalyst, and Kathleen Jordan, Ph.D., a psychologist who specializes in personal creativity and business innovation.
As the book makes clear, the authors are equally adept at helping individuals make considerable changes in their organizational settings as well as their individual lives.
Making a Major Life Change
The authors deduced 7 key strengths that the most creative minds of history shared, and that anyone rethinking their future can cultivate to effectively change their life:
- Preparing the brain to undertake creative work
- Seeing the world and one’s life from new perspectives
- Using context to understand the facets of one’s life
- Embracing uncertainty
- Taking risks
- Applying discipline
To architects this list may at first appear overly familiar and simplistic.
But don’t let these strengths fool you.
Once you dig into each you’ll realize that the abilities we take for granted – and use in our everyday lives – are much more powerful than we give them credit for.
Especially when you apply them to the problem of our worklives.
Just take the first strength: Preparation.
The book defines this not as undertaking mental or physical warm-ups but as “deliberately engaging in activities that help break us from our usual patterns of thought and feeling and prepare us for creative insight.”
The book talks a great deal about creativity and art – but it is primarily focused on process, not product, as well as on skills and learning.
With the belief that the very skills we use in creating art – or in our case designing buildings – are those that we need to create a more fulfilling life.
The book argues that making a major life change requires the skills of an artist.
And certainly for the unemployed and underemployed, finding work of any sort but especially satisfying and fulfilling work, calls on our inherent creative ability.
As an architect, you already have a leg-up on the targeted audience of this book in that you have been trained in these seven key skills.
They’re in your blood and soul and you, at times like these, forget.
And don’t even realize it.
You can almost imagine a job interview in the near future where your future employer asks you what you did during the lull – and you explain that you treated your predicament as though it were a design assignment.
What was your secret?
How did you escape from the box you were in?
You treated the process of finding your way into a new life by utilizing the very skills engendered in becoming an architect.
You designed you way out the only way I knew.
If you do what you always did, you’ll get what you always got. Right?
So why not try something different?
To be sure, the book is not Chicken Soup for the Architect’s Soul.
But right now, despite the summer season, a little soup might just be what is needed to help us assuage and survive the predicament we find ourselves in.
When all life gives you are tomatoes, make gazpacho.
The book is inspiring and with its exercises, tools and creativity assessment in the appendix, it will help you to keep your creativity – and soul and much else – alive and well in these trying times.
Building on What You Already Know
You need help.
You want to help others in need.
And you help yourself by helping others.
Becoming a Life Change Artist: 7 Creative Skills to Reinvent Yourself at Any Stage of Life will help you to help others – the young, the elderly, neighbors, friends, emerging and senior talent, those out of work, those looking to make a change in their own lives – discover these qualities for themselves.
Because you already have these skills, strengths and insights: in droves.
You just needed someone – or something – to remind you.
With this book you can consider yourself reminded.
The Receptionist’s Candy Bowl as Economic Indicator June 7, 2009Posted by randydeutsch in Ambiguity, architect, career, change, employment, survival, the economy.
Tags: employment, the economy, Work
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It’s official. You no longer recognize your life.
Things you’ve seen over the past few months you can’t quite place. Often, you don’t have a name for them. And if it weren’t for your spouse, no one would believe that they’re happening to you.
It’s as though you’re living in some kind of simulacrum of someone else’s existence, only for about half the salary. Without matching funds. And the candy bowl is empty.
Your company mobile phones are long gone. You can no longer print in color. Just the sound of the office printer – inexplicably stocked only with resume paper – raises eyebrows.
The company printer is no longer for printing. It is for emailing. You use it to email things to yourself. Otherwise your mail box would be empty. This is now what you do for a living.
Working part time, if they want you to work a full week (and legally they can’t ask you to do that) they assign you to kitchen clean-up duty at 4:30PM on Fridays, a day you haven’t worked in 6 months. Not cleaning the kitchen at 4:30PM on Fridays is grounds for dismissal, so you show up for work on Friday at 4:30PM, clean the kitchen and leave fifteen minutes later.
You’ve cracked the code. This is the new win-win. And the kitchen is clean come Monday morning.
Renting available cubicle real-estate, your former clients now sit amongst you. They use the company bathroom, not the bathroom for company.
Going after work you normally don’t go after, you inevitably run into the same firms, going after work they normally don’t go after. Those that normally went after this work aren’t anywhere to be found.
The receptionist’s candy bowl as economic indicator. Completely empty in March, the bowl is now filled each morning with candy leftover from Halloween. Even so, it empties before noon.
You wonder if eating stale candy means things are improving.
In order to network effectively, you attend afterhours events featuring presentations on quarter sawn lumber, rooftop mounted wind-turbines, and the future of the city. All in the same day.
You no longer know who you are. You find yourself frequently referencing your business card to remind yourself who you are.
You need to order more business cards, but are afraid to ask.
Meanwhile, you find yourself considering whether quarter sawn wind-turbines might save our cities?
Attending webinars in conference rooms. Muted. Phoning-in to RFP Q&As. Disembodied voices.
Owners, recognizing the feeding frenzy, suddenly put out their projects in hopes of attracting the lowest bidder.
Can you be furloughed from a furlough? During your furlough, you’re needed at the office. Then, inexplicably, the client stops calling. You no longer know where you should be.
You find yourself offering weird services for which you know you are not qualified. Building commissioning in foreign countries. 3D laser scanning of entire cities. Quarter-sawing lumber.
People you haven’t spoken to in 20 years suddenly “friend” you online. Eleven seconds later they request an introduction. Wham Bam, Recommend Me Man.
Former colleagues, unemployed, quizzically seem better off than you. You run into one at the gym. They look at you like recession, what recession?
You know you should have taken their job offer.
Former donors to social service organizations are now recipients of their services.
You consider temporarily living away from your spouse, children and dog. You wonder how the dog will handle it.
Not knowing what to do with the accumulated pile of once vital information on living in Dubai.
Former classmates – now semi-famous politicians, actors and actresses – find you on social networking sites. Just at the one time in the past 20 years when you have nothing to brag about, you’re needy, and for all your former success the best you can offer when they suggest meeting for drinks is going Dutch.
You feel like you’re 16 again on Facebook because you are 16 again.
You’re making what you made in 1989 but the world, uncooperatively, costs 2009.
New technologies keep popping up, you wonder – with every passing day hovering ever closer to retirement – whether you’ll need to learn them. Or can take a pass. You wait and see.
The irony that you need to belong to organizations and attend networking events in order to find the kind of job where you make the kind of money to pay for these organizations and networking events.
No longer contributing to your 401K while watching the market climb. Afraid that contributing will trigger something that causes the market to stop climbing.
When your business cards finally run out, is that your last day?
You remind yourself that a watched receptionist’s candy bowl never fills.