SMH. How cool am I? I know that SMH means “Shaking My Head” in text and social media chat. OK, you might not think I am that cool, but I do (and isn’t that all that really matters? Ok, not really). We do know that just because you know the latest slang, technology or fashion doesn’t make you relevant. Relevance comes from true engagement.
OK, what the heck does that mean? Sounds like the latest talking point for me to use as a keynote. I can travel from SHRM Chapter to SHRM Chapter and sing the values of true engagement. “For only $39.95, learn all of the secrets of true engagement that will transform your business, your marriage and your life! Act now and I’ll throw in a Ronco Potato Peeler absolutely free! (Just pay shipping and handling)”. Nice, right?
True engagement is about connectivity. For business-minded people, this means connection to competition, market conditions, market changes, talent trends in skill sets and training, strategies around retention and succession planning, etc. I will be relevant when I am relevant. I don’t look or sound relevant alone; I am to be relevant in what I do, too. Often this requires an investment in time to determine where my resources are better spent moving forward. I assess situations, weigh the facts, research what I don’t know and make decisions. This screams of relevance.
As people, we yearn for connection to others, to ideals, to purpose. When something is out of line, we seek to find a replacement for what’s missing. One of my recent favorite actors died this week. Phillip Seymour Hoffman could draw you in to the role he was playing. You believed it was real. You tracked with him. You could connect with the performance. Out of the limelight, he struggled with the same things we all struggle with – relationships, meaning, direction. What he ran to for answers did not provide what he was ultimately looking for, but don’t think he’s alone in that. I am not speaking of drug use, but on a grander scale, running to something easy to fill the deeper.
Our relevance is not bound to coolness. When I sit and listen to someone pushing a book about how to be relevant to Gen Y, for example, I could get up and punch them in the middle of their speech. (I mean, slap them, ‘er, rather, give them a stern glare…ah, that’s more HR). Tell me how to measure competition better, how to measure and read financials better, how to discover better talent and recruit more effectively. That’s what will make me relevant to the workplace, not a Blu-ray in the breakroom or $5 Starbucks gift cards on an employee’s birthday (OK, I don’t really mind that one, but…).
Your connection comes from putting yourself in places to be connected. What are you spending your time on? Is it profitable? Is it bottom-line driven? We are so much better than flash and glitz; we are substance. Our purpose comes from pursuit of such things; work to fight against those things that would distract us from our meaning. We have depth. We bring purpose to the table for others to share. We are relevant to our companies, our homes, and our country when we pursue connection to real, lasting principles. For our business communities, these principles must be foundational and returned to time and again.
There will come a time when I will no longer be able to physically pursue some of these things, and as such, my relevance may slip. May I remain strong in my core to not become discouraged. My mind may want more, but my body may hold me back. But maybe, by that time, the Ronco Relevance Infuser will be on the market. Of course, I will be first in line…SMH