June 4, 2012
Some of these weekly missives – delivered as a “push,” or experienced as a blog (see pov.mastersprogram.org), land without fanfare. They generate little direct response – for the e-mail version, the “reply” reaction; for the blog, a “comment” – but stimulate thought, nonetheless.
Occasionally, there's more reaction. That happened last week, with my advice, to give advice, to graduates. My opening challenge was for the now-launching, post-academic young adult to…
- Find your Context: Figure out where you live, and get established there. It's first; nothing tops this. Will your context be an industry? A company? A metropolitan area? A church? A group of friends? A family? The borders defined by your choice will narrow your field of view for your future choices; the quality of your life will be affected by your answer. Choose well.
That concept has stimulated some interesting interaction, both through the digital/social media, but also as I've crossed paths with my Point of Viewers during this last week. “Could I unpack a little more on this 'context' concept?”
Allow me to bottom-line it, and then circle back to get specific: we were made – “created” is the biblical concept – to be in community, not in isolation. Where will we find that “community?”
Unfortunately, community doesn't come looking for us; we have to go and find it. The energy we put into the search will demonstrate the degree to which we value the community factor in our life formula. Without community, we lack the factor that will be one of our great multipliers of potential.
Once you determine the nature of your community context, boundaries will be established that narrow the field of search for the other issues of life. Allow me to illustrate:
- If you've determined that your context is a locale, or metropolitan area, your life and career options will now be narrowed to those found within those zip codes. “I am not willing to move from…” will end some interviews before an offer can be extended. If you've chosen a hometown – or, the city where you did your undergraduate degree – you now have context…
- If you choose an industry for your context, you'll go anywhere that marketplace niche demands. Get your passport current, because globalization has broadened the industry context to continents you never thought you'd visit. You may need to change your ethnicity to “Gypsy,” because your roots will ball inside your industry pot…
- Pick a corporate citizenship, and your context will be like an industry footprint, but narrower still. Openings and closings, expansions and contractions, economic ups and downs will all be likely to introduce change of venue to your life story… or, a pink slip, if things turn down…
Some choose a context based on something other than geography or career engagement; their primary objectives have more to do with relationships than with any other priority. Family, friends – or, perhaps, a particular church – represent the baseline of a quality of life that they seek to protect and to promote. Working roles may come and go, but the constancy and quality found in the people who are the essence of their life is a steady positive in a world of fluctuating factors that lead many to despair.
We talk, metaphorically, about being a “fish out of water;” we're referring to a perfectly good fish with no chance for survival. The fish's problem? He's out of context. In water, he's likely to thrive; out of the water, he's soon to be recycled.
Help a graduate find their best pond, for a lifetime worth living. By the way, where's your pond?