The social machine of work tells us that unless we’re packed to the brim with a high demand of clients, or own our own company, or are meaningfully employed by a company we love, there’s something taboo about looking for work.
I imagine there’s ties here to the shame many feel about being unemployed or underemployed, survivor’s guilt of NOT being laid off or having a great job in a bad economy, and the overall societal messaging that how much money one makes determines how successful of a human being you are.
Of course, our society has also built up the myth of the lone hero who manages to do it all on their own, when in reality we’re only as good as our support structures that we have in place.
Whether that’s a trust fund from our parents or a rag-tag band of ride or die friends or the tech stack your solopreneur project is built on that consists of technology other people have built, nothing you do is by yourself.
As a man, it’s important for me to debunk the lone hero myth, as it’s especially pervasive and toxic for us. After all, asking for help around making money reflects what it means as a man to ask for help. It also questions the canonized breadwinner role – what does it say about me if I show any vulnerability or cause others to question my ability to earn money for my household?
But in reviewing my Core Values, I realized that part of why I do what I do is about reducing shame in general.
Because when one reduces shame, a more equal world is created that allows people to show up as their true, authentic selves, rather than some mirage of who they think society wants them to be.
While I personally feel the stigma, tension, and fear around putting the little green ring around my profile photo, I also feel like it’s the choice that clearly aligns with who I am and how I want to show up in the world.
So today, I’m officially changing my LinkedIn status to “Open to Work.” After all, as a coach, visual artist, and consultant I’m always open to work, so why let some perceived notion about how other people will view me get in the way of being clear about who I am and what I do?
Let’s establish a new relationship with ourselves, work, and our humanity where asking for help is not a big deal, our value doesn’t correlate with our incomes, and we’re all open to new work.
PS – Managers/bosses – if you’re afraid of your employees being open to work outside of your organization, you need to reevaluate a) how much you trust them to manage their own schedule, and b) how much more effective they might be if they’re chasing their dreams on the side, c) what kind of job/culture are you creating where people might consider leaving, and d) how resilient/sustainable your org is if a single person leaving would destroy it all.
PPS – I work with people with marginalized identities who want to show up more authentically in their work and feel (rightfully) afraid to be themselves. If this is you, reach out here and book a free, no-obligation 20-minute coaching session and let’s get to work.