Don't Forget to Socialize: Set Goals To Be Around Your People

It had been three years since I flew on a plane.  The whole airport ritual felt strange and alien.   I had forgotten how utterly graceless the experience of going through the security checkpoint is.  I’m of the opinion that no self respecting adult dressed in business casual can get through this experience without looking like a clumsy oaf.  The only solace to the whole thing is that it’s at least indiscriminate, and treats every person equally miserably.  I also had forgotten how abysmally poor the experience of interacting with any airline for any reason is.  It seems like an industry that’s business model now requires them to be antagonistic to their customers in order to sustain itself.  The inside of an airplane on a domestic flight seems like it was designed for children, in that everything is slightly too small to actually be practical for an adult.  The seat, overhead bins, walk ways, everything would be perfect if we were all four and a half feet tall and weighed seventy five pounds.  I truly had forgotten how much I utterly despised travel on the whole.

After getting to Seattle last week, dropping off my stuff and wandering over to the venue, I eventually found myself in a hotel conference area completely indistinguishable from any other hotel conference lobby.  I procured an absolutely face meltingly expensive stale beer from a man that didn’t like people and started to shuffle in the crowd and talk to folks at random.  That’s when it all changed.  Everyone there was so happy to be there.  The people were sharp and passionate and they loved talking about the things I get spun up about - talent management, leadership development, performance management, feedback, employee experience, analytics, all of it, all the things I obsess over with my team at Rhabit, and this was the one place where I could do this, full bore, for three days straight, and no one would think twice about it. 

This was SIOP.  It’s one of my favorite events ever.  

The pandemic took things like this away from me, away from everybody really, and I think finally going back really reminded me of how important it is for finding these places where you’re with “your people”.  There’s so much value in sharing space with folks from different parts of the world, different roles, but whom all share an intense interest in a domain you yourself find interesting.  It’s good for the soul.  It’s fundamentally invigorating and one it’s hard not to be energized from the experience. 

Even it if means getting another variant of covid, even if it means suffering through the miserable experience of travel, and even if it means losing a few productive days of work to just hang out and build real relationships again, it’s all worth it.  I see so much content about burn out.  There were a couple of different panels at SIOP this year about the topic, which were well attended.  I’ve seen everything from legit research around the topic to your typical sham huckster consultants on LinkedIn covering it, and I will tell you this, that the only anti-burnout experience I’ve ever had, was being around my people at SIOP. 

The deep fundamental irony that I am indeed not an actual organizational psychologist isn’t lost on me.  I “married” into the discipline by starting Rhabit with Alexander, the actual Ph.D behind what we do here, but his love for the field has become my love for the field and a dose of the passion of others around a topic relevant to your career is just what the doctor ordered in terms of fighting burnout. 

What I’d love for you to do if you’re reading this (and if you love talent management, go to SIOP next year), see if there’s a place where you can be around your people.  Whatever drives your actual passion, and the closer it is  to your career, the better, but find a club, a group, a gathering, or make your own if you have to, but figure out a way to share common space with people who love what you love. 

In early 2019 this would have seen like such a mundane and uninteresting idea, but in 2022 as the world is just starting to at least be post-anxiety about the pandemic, this could be an opportunity to reignite your engine, to change your context, change your scenery, and get yourself re-engaged in the things you love.  I promise you, it’s even worth the hassle of air travel (at least for now).