March 6, 2007

Keeping The Faith: Bouncing Back From Losing Your Passion For KM

It’s been months since my last blog and even trying to write this involved taking days off from work and tossing and turning in bed several nights.

After years of trying to blaze a KM trail I’ve lost my passion. Truth be told, my passion was less “lost” and more pounded out of me. Surfing the rough and tumble corporate waters, I suppose it was only a matter of time before one too many waves took its toll on me and now I’m struggling to find my “mojo” and get back out into the water; that is, if I want to get back out there at all.

The experience has me wondering how you keep going in this field when you’ve lost your passion. Over the years, I’ve read several articles about the value of maintaining your sanity as a KM professional and keeping your head up in a business world that doesn’t always understand or appreciate you. Now, going through my own professional crisis, I can’t help but wonder how many of those authors remained in the field after their literary purge.

For me, the biggest challenge has been staying inspired. I mean, I still love KM; it’s certainly not that I don’t care about KM anymore, but I don’t feel the same level of inspiration that motivated me to study the field and transformed me into a proselyte. In the absence of this inspiration, I am confronted with exactly how important passionate adherents are to the future of this field; more so than is currently discussed in the existing literature.

Yes, you need awareness of KM, understanding of organizational dynamics, executive support, access to tools and resources, blah, blah, blah, but none of that means much if you don’t have someone passionately championing KM initiatives in an organization. And more than a budget or carte blanche, that person needs to be supported and encouraged in the work that they do. What's more, KM professionals also need to be able to maintain their own level of passion and inspiration.

Anyway, in the hopes that this literary purge doesn’t herald the end of my own KM ambitions, I reflected on some possible tips for getting back into the swing of things and re-discover that old KM magic.

#1: Remember that KM is change. KM involves uncomfortable changes in the way people communicate and relate to others in an environment where their financial security (and a huge part of their identity and self-esteem) is at stake – and you’re the point person! Regardless of how necessary or beneficial the changes you propose, they will most likely be met with resistance and, perhaps, counter measures. Understanding this won’t make you feel any better when you’re under attack, but hopefully it will give you some insight when launching your own counter attack.

#2: Maintain strong, reliable social and professional networks. Having folks around you that not only understand you as a person, but what KM is and what you do professionally is truly a beautiful thing. People who know you as a person will help to keep you grounded and (hopefully) prevent you from going postal in the workplace, while people who understand what is that you do (or strive to) and who can relate to the challenges, victories, and defeats you encounter as a KM professional help to take the edge off and are able to help you come up with potential solutions to professional dilemmas.

#3: Maintain your spirit of adventure. True KM folks are not only strategists and creative problem solvers, we are entrepreneurs and risk takers. We’re the folks who don’t stop at whining about a problem, we set out to resolve the problem. We’re not afraid of a challenge or even the little failures along the road to success. Still, we’re not undefeatable or indefatigable – consistent blows to our spirit can diminish our confidence as it would anyone elses. The key is to find some way (a totem, a mantra, prayer…ecstasy – just kidding…a little) to stick to the road less traveled for the duration of our KM adventure, even when the urge is strong to temporarily stray from the path to clock a naysayer.

#4: Do you. As a college Junior, what drew me to a career in KM was the opportunity to pursue my combined interests in strategy, organizational development, marketing, psychology, and party planning – hey, I’m a social butterfly. The icing on the cake was working in a developing field with the potential to be someone who shapes a new way of doing business. Years later, I find myself having had to narrow or completely sacrifice my scope and vision of KM to satisfy organizational leaders who are either afraid of change, lacking in vision, or who, ironically, also suffer from having had their passion for what they do blotted out. In business, it’s not uncommon to rationalize that certain “sacrifices” must be made in order to make the deal, satisfy the client, walk away with the “win”, etc, etc. My only thought here is a biblical one: “What does it profit a man to gain the world yet lose his soul?” So, I say, “do you.” Follow your bliss. Don’t be stupid, blind, or na├»ve about it, but don’t be so quick to change your path to accommodate those who lack the vision, courage, or conviction to chart new waters. Hell, that’s supposed to be the American Way.

Well, this blog was definitely cathartic. I’m curious as to what will come next. If I can find a way to get back on the path, re-discover my “mojo”, re-ignite the flames of my passion and forge ahead on “Route KM”.

Let’s hope so.


Toby Getsch said...

Hey Christian~

As a word of encouragement from a stranger, your writing on this post has encouraged me. In turn, maybe some of virtual mojo can migrate back to ATL from SEA. :)

I did a simple KM search w/ Google's Blog Search and found your site. I'm a few hours away from accepting a new position in this very field. I'm excited and energized, specifically in that some of the things you mentioned as hurdles are things that I have sought out as things to ensure my future employer had in place, before I decided to jump. It was very reaffirming to hear your tips and a little of your experience here. I look forward to hearing more... and writing more of my own experiences as I dive in.

Best regards, and hang in there!


Stan Garfield said...

Hi, Christian.

I linked to this entry from my blog.