Buzzwords are everywhere. They’re what enable us to code and decode complex language, making it understandable for ourselves and others. They’re at the same time a system which only those in the industry understand. And that’s supposed to be ok.
Personally, I don’t think it’s ok. I have a history of words I’ve learned to hate, so maybe it’s quite the personal issue. But I like to think we shouldn’t need buzzwords to explain our intentions and desires.
The best cure for all these buzzwords, I believe, comes from the right metaphor.
Some food for thought: the next time we think of a specific buzzword, let’s picture a situation outside the working world, and inside our personal lives. After all, we don’t “capitalize on personal email databases”, we get in touch with friends. We don’t “generate buzz about our opinion”, we share our view of the world and listen to other people’s view (sometimes). Nor do we “launch influencer programs to promote our personal brand” (well some douchebags do), we connect with those that inspire us and those we inspire.
Next time we go for the buzzword, let’s consider this: if this were a personal thing, would I use this expression?
If not, it’s clear which words we really should stop using right now.
Form follows function. But substance precedes form.
To be informed and inspired, of course. And to get to know what’s up.
But I believe we also read a lot because we’re scared. And we’re usually scared of the same things.
We’re scared of not knowing. Or at least of someone else knowing beforehand. We’re scared of letting trends go by. We’re scared of not being aligned with the status quo. Or not having business cases to talk about. We’re scared of being on our own with our own thoughts.
Then someone comes along and tells a story of someone who focused on doing a damn good job by not knowing about the case studies. By not doing a benchmark. By not comparing themselves to anything else, because categories are manipulable, fragile, ultimately useless.
By all means, we should read. A lot. But before we do so, we should think about it for a while. Will we read that article in order to have enough information to create something else, or will we read it because we’re scared of otherwise becoming less of a professional?
The promise of a bigger salary, a higher reputation or a more proeminent position are not to be taken lightly. In a purely rational world, who doesn’t want to earn more money and recognition, or a boastworthy job title (which in many ways can bring even more money and recognition to the equation)?
Not many, we can be sure of that. Of course, we don’t live in a purely rational world.
I believe strenghts and weaknesses are but a matter of perspective, specially after we get to see what relative stability tastes like. What for one person or group might be the true description of paradise — big job, big pay, big team, big clients — for many others might just sound like the last thing they want to do. Or simply a superficial description of what it means to be in a good place.
In the jungle, one should not expect the elephant to understand the benefits of being a mouse, because those are two very different realities. Maybe the elephant likes being the way it is. But then again, maybe so does the mouse.
I’m not sure when or where we got to seeing bigger, better, faster, stronger as the ultimate goals in our personal and professional lives. I can understand where the motivation comes from; I can’t accept that those same people see every other option as something less of a goal.
“More” and “less” dance with elegance in this fragile balance we call life. There’s no point in trying to figure out how our point of view is going to win over everyone else’s, if everyone else is thinking the exact same thing. There is, however, a win/win option: realizing different points of view result in different concepts of happiness. And that my happiness will always be different from yours.
Our biggest strenghts might just be perceived as our biggest weaknesses. All it takes is someone else’s notion of what it is to do a good job.