Who Am I @ Work? Semicolons and Values

It’s a three day weekend and I am reading a book by Maureen Corrigan, ‘Leave Me Alone, I’m Reading’ and I have not even reached the end of the introduction when I come upon this sentence: “How do you know what you’ve become without losing what you were – and want to keep on being too?”

She is writing about her work ‘place’ where she is the book critic for the NPR program ‘Fresh Air’ and a critic-in-residence and lecturer at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. She describes how she uses a semicolon in her writing to link where she came from to who she is today. “The semicolon is my psychological metaphor, my mascot. It’s the punctuation mark that qualifies, hesitates, and ties together ideas and parts of a life that shoots off in different directions. I think my reliance on the semicolon signifies that I want to hold on to my background – honestly, without sentimentality or embarrassment – and yet, also transcend it.”

It brought back to an article written by Po Bronson in Fast Company magazine prior to the release of his book ‘What Should I Do With My Life?’ In relating the learning experience of interviewing over 900 people for the book he writes:

“Every industry has a culture. And every culture is driven by a value system.”

“One of the most common mistakes is not recognizing how these value systems will shape you. People think that they can insulate themselves, that they’re different. They’re not. The relevant question in looking at a job is not What will I do? but Who will I become? What belief system will you adopt, and what will take on heightened importance in your life? Because once you’re rooted in a particular system — whether it’s medicine, New York City, Microsoft, or a startup — it’s often agonizingly difficult to unravel yourself from its values, practices, and rewards. Your money is good anywhere, but respect and status are only a local currency. They get heavily discounted when taken elsewhere. If you’re successful at the wrong thing, the mix of praise and opportunity can lock you in forever.”

Who are you @ work? Can you find a link to your history in your day at work? Or, have you assumed the costume of whatever perception is necessary to succeed in your profession and edited your sentence, deleting the semicolon?

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