There is a challenge associated with a modern transitional workforce. If you want to ascend the corporate ladder then in many instances relocating is a expected behavior. There’s nothing fundamentally evil about this, organizations have different groups in different parts of the country. If your in the trades it’s not a big deal. Plumbers are pretty much needed everywhere. The more hyper specialized we get the more we have to go specific places to apply that specialty. One outcome of this is that you can create these connections, these roots, in an industry or in a company and they don’t necessarily have to be with people you work with every day or even in the same office. Some of the best connections I ever made that are still strong to this day, decades later, were with a group of people I worked with who were all located in different states. The more you work, even when you’re jumping jobs, the more connections you make and the deeper your roots are into a specific industry which is really the professional version of a community.
One thing in common your community has with your work is that it takes years to develop connections and knowledge that together become what many consider to be ‘deep roots’. Life is long and it’s filled with cycles. Only as we go through these cycles do we get a feel for what is consistent and what is not. It’s the shared interactions and experiences overtime that are the foundation of deep roots. As the old saying goes easy come, easy go.
Your roots in your community and your roots at work have another thing in common. The deeper your roots go the greater the possibility is that you will be effective at achieving what your goals are. Your goals in a professional environment generally means getting the project done with the minimum amount of fuss and challenges. Your goals in your community could be anything from having a group of friends to share your downtime with to having a support structure for when things get unexpectedly challenging. It could also be knowing who does the best work with home repairs or which auto dealer is not going to screw you over. Sadly this latter thing is something I recently learned still happens, even as dealers are moving to no-haggle sales models. Thankfully it didn’t happen to me. By having that connection in my community, I learned where I’m NOT going to buy my next car.
Roots and Work
Roots at work generally mean sticking around the same organization or type of organization and continuing to drive value into your professional network through continued interaction. The more tightly connected you are to your industry, the greater the connections you have. The more you will recognize professional opportunities and jump at them when the opportunities present themselves. The inverse of this is the Career Gypsy which as I’ve said has some benefits and negatives associated with it.
Roots and the Family
What your goals and needs are will really determine your priority when it comes to defining the value of the roots that you grow. Because you can prioritize roots in either business or in your community it becomes something you have to consider in your relationships. As many have discovered, the spouse we’ll have some very strong opinions about whether or not you should take advantage of the great opportunity that requires a move. Their priorities may not be specifically related to career ascendance. Let’s face it when you’re in your late teens or early twenties and deciding on a spouse, generally speaking, you’re early conversations have more to do with what movie you want to see and where you want to eat this weekend then what markets will provide the most upward mobility in your chosen professions. Typically when those conversations come along then you’re already married with kids.
Speaking of kids, I’ve talked about the concerns of spouses but kids need a foundation too. Yes, children are very resilient. They can get a lot of their interpersonal needs met directly with their parents and family. Children who move a lot, such as those who grew up as part of military families learn the valuable skill of how to make connections quickly. That being said they are missing out on something unique. I have to admit, I have always been jealous of people I know who have best friends from their earliest childhood days that they’re still friends with. You can’t do that if you’re moving them around every few years. Children also show how easily you can lose the benefits of roots even if just moving from neighborhood to neighborhood. Many long term friendships develop based on proximity. Limited transportation options with youth force the development of tolerances and bonds that both help develop important interpersonal skills for the rest of the child’s life and cement long term connections.
I’ve talked about spouses, and I talked about kids, but even the most hardened workaholic needs some measure of a social life. Typically a professional will have some work friends who become social friends. That works really well if you are sedentary in your working environment. As I have said, most professionals are transitory throughout their career. The numbers right now show we average career transitions about every three to four years. That’s not exactly an ideal amount of time to create a lifelong friendship., fortunately you may develop the seeds of one. The problem comes when that change includes a move. Then you are back to square one for the social.
So what is the best advice I can give you? Ultimately putting down roots must be carefully considered. The entire purpose of nature’s roots is to keep a tree from falling over. The negative of not falling over means you’re stuck in one place and can’t move. If you’re going to be stuck somewhere professionally or personally it better be a place that you enjoy. One of the challenges is if you don’t already have some measure of roots in a community it’s hard to know if that’s the one you want to put your roots down in. You really don’t know what people are like in a town until you’ve lived there for some time. Fortunately we are not as blind these days as we have been in the past. We can get on message boards, connect with professional contacts, and use other methods to get an idea of the general tone but ultimately roots require direct connections that run deep.
Maybe you will be one of the lucky ones who has professional and personal roots in a single location. The more time and effort you put in the deeper they will run. You will be able to weather nearly any storm in your life or work and in both cases something amazing will probably grow!
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