Working outside a category: Finding new ways to be helpful

Yesterday I talked about how, with the whole lockdown situation, forcing changes, bringing in this new sudden element of chaos into what was seen as the ordinary way of doing things, leads to an opportunity to try different things, try new things.
And one aspect of this is the idea of categories.
It’s so easy to want to put categories on everything.
So we see something, and we say well, what type of thing is that? and then we assign it to a category based on what we already know or think we know or imagine, and we say OK, this new thing that I’m seeing is an instance of this category, so now I can kind of understand it.
Instead of just being a thing that has no clear definition, I can connect it with the thing I already know, and then I can now make sense of it.
So of course we do this.
We see a tree and then we can say oh, I’ve never seen that thing before, but it looks like a tree, and you know, I know a little bit about what a tree is, so now I can understand what that thing is.
And that’s very comforting, because it’s not just some like mysterious big stick.
It’s a tree.
And of course we can also do this with people, and that can certainly be a dangerous trend, where we say, well, what type of person is this? Oh, that’s, you know, a person of this type.
Oh, I know that type of person and what they’re like.
And we can then sort of make an assumption about them on that basis.
And the same thing applies to what people do.
Like “What do you do? What’s your business? What is your work?” Well, usually it’s a lot easier to define something when it clearly fits into a category.
“Oh, you do that kind of thing.
That makes sense.” But now I’m thinking, with this new opening that has been granted to us through the change of the lockdown, there’s an opportunity to try new categories, or try new ways of being, ways of doing things that are outside the categories we’re already familiar with.
Because everybody’s being forced to change, even if it’s already within your category.
I mean, some businesses only require a very small change, maybe almost nothing at all, but others need to be completely upended, or else simply abandoned, and people moving on to new things entirely.
So my idea for today is what you do doesn’t need necessarily to be definable by a category we can do something that we believe is good, and that can stand on its own, even if it’s difficult to describe.
And I guess maybe I’m also talking to myself, because I feel like what I want to do, I just have a kind of a hint of the kind of work that I want to do, which is what I’m starting with these videos, but I want it to grow into new things, and it doesn’t really have a category.
It’s not really clear to me how to define it.
And you know, maybe I should try harder, but it doesn’t necessarily have to fit into any category.
Because it seems like work, business or work, it simply has to create or provide or deliver something that is valuable.
If you can provide something to somebody that has some value to somebody, then that could be described as being useful, helpful, actually doing work.
And there are so many ways to be helpful to other people that it doesn’t have to be in any clear category, a clearly defined way that is expected.
This is our chance now for anybody who’s still in this kind of grey area of maybe not having a clear career path, or having their career path being suddenly upended by the lockdown, that this is a chance to expand the idea of what it is that you want to do, what kind of work that you want to do.
And as long as it’s helping somebody somewhere, it seems like we don’t need to exist within any previously defined category.
And there’s room to do new things that somebody later will then assign it to a category.
So I’d be curious to hear if you have any ideas about this.
What kind of work might be possible? What might be some new ways to help people, even if it’s maybe not even something that’s easy to define?

#newwaystowork #newcategories #alternativework

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