November 13-18 this year is International Working Out Loud week and this WOLweek the theme is “Deepen Relationships and Create a Legacy”. Yesterday, we reflected on the need to deepen relationships in a digital world and a digital workplace. Today we will look at how sharing work in progress with a relevant community can deepen relationships.
Working out loud is an important digital work practice because it enables the networks around our work to engage us. We may set out to use working out loud for ‘a better career or a better life’ as John Stepper puts it so well, but we discover that the deepening of our relationships comes not just from our intentional actions to share our work, but also from the reactions of the network to the work we share. Working out loud is always a two-way street with value to the network and to us. That value arises first in richer, deeper and more meaningful relationships.
Work out loud and you are inherently sharing some of your personal purpose into the world. Your purpose lives in the work that you choose to do and how that work benefits others, even if you can’t see it yet. Your network will be able to engage with the goals and purposes that you put out into the world. Purposeful action is an attracting force and will help draw those interested or aligned to your purpose in. Strong relationships are founded on shared purpose. The support of people who share purpose is important to everything you want to achieve.
The questions, challenges and support of others in your network can also help you to understand your purpose more clearly and advance it. There is nothing quite like the moment when someone surprises you by showing you a new path to achieve your goals or even a higher purpose that you had not yet seen.
We rely on context to work together effectively. Lack of a shared context is the cause of the breakdown of many relationships. In a fast moving world of social cliques, it is easy for different people to hold widely different contexts. Sharing our work and our world is a way to enable others to better understand those differences and to leverage the value of diversity.
The vulnerability that comes with Working Out Loud is often remarked on. Putting things that are not finished and might be subject to criticism out in to the world brings with it a sense of vulnerability. However, that exposure of our risks and weaknesses is also critical in relationships to break down the status, the perceptions and the history of interactions that often cloud our view of others. Vulnerability & a willingness to learn cuts through the mess of relationships and rapidly accelerates the engagement. Willingness to be vulnerable signals trust in the other and trust is reciprocal.
Generosity sits at the heart of effective working out loud. Approach working out loud with a selfish mindset and the network will not respond to your efforts. Focus on what you can contribute to others and you will be rewarded. This open and generous approach accelerates relationship development.
Our relationships are built by our interactions and the pattern of these interactions contribute to the expectations that we know as the deep relationship of shared culture. Working out loud creates new interactions around your work. The visibility and understanding of the work underway enables others to know to get in touch, to stay current with your work and to know how to help. Practices like Working Out Loud Circles provide deeper connections between people and support individuals to extend their networks. The simple act of sharing work creates new interactions and creates new relationships and reinforces the values of digital work.
We know much less about the world and each other than we should. Working out loud puts some of the hidden elements of our work and our lives on show so that they can be discovered or help others. Serendipity and discovery are major benefits of working out loud and can bring new and surprising incites to existing relationships. Serendipity can also bring value from your weak tie relationships in networks when there is enough information and context for others to leverage your working out loud for your mutual ends.
- What is the purpose of your work and how might your network help refine it?
- What context of your work would you like others to share?
- How can you increase the generosity and volume of your network interactions?
There are many more ways that Working Out Loud can practically enhance relationships in work and life. This short list only scratches the surface. The best way to discover more is to put working out loud into practice. Tomorrow we will look at our personal legacies.