The toll that instability and uncertainty in innovation work and our times can't be underestimated.
I liken doing innovation to walking around the city in the dark. It’s fascinating to see things shine and so many other things obscured from view. Light — obviously artificial or from the moon — plays differently at night.
It strikes me that much of what I do is in the dark. I am often rarely given a full, clear picture of what people want — whether that is clients, their funders, the public, or some combination. What I realize is that most often they don’t really know. They have an idea. Something partial.
It’s like walking around at night, in the rain.
You see all kinds of possibilities but don’t really know whether things are as you think they are until it’s morning. That’s having more meaning for me as I consider life in 2021 and all I see and experience.
The Psychological Toll
It’s one thing to walk around the city at night and appreciate it for what it is. It’s another thing when those you’re walking around with think that the daylight is out.
In 2021, the city I live in has been shaken up. The industries I work in are being upended. The community of practitioners I work with are stressed. Someone posted on Twitter suggesting that right now we are all meeting people who are just barely keeping it together in almost every interaction. I agree with them.
Those entrusted with leading change in their organizations are tasked with giving people confidence, hope, and direction when they are operating in systems that provide none of that. It takes a toll on having so much ambiguity in your life.
Today in Canada is Bell Let’s Talk Day — a day that’s about raising money for mental health treatment and health promotion as well as promoting positive mental health. It’s all come together today for some reason. It’s a reminder that these times of massive instability that creating, nurturing, and supporting our mental wellbeing is harder than ever and as important to innovation work as anything else we do.