But here’s the catch. We can’t achieve and hold onto a masterful self on our own. Both cohorts of people that my colleagues and I studied took pride in their mastery, and took care to cultivate relationships that helped them endure and enjoy their independent and mobile working lives. They might have been nomads, but they needed a tribe.
Most of them swore by the value of networking, but they saw it as a necessary evil. They were constantly aware that they needed to keep doing it, and that every new conversation might help advance their work or set it back, turn into a source of revenues, support, or disappointment. This uncertainty kept them on edge.
In contrast to their expansive networks, the people we studied often described having a tight community, often a handful of people, who took the edge off their working lives. With those people, they were neither on show nor for sale.
Instead of demanding conformity in exchange for safety, such communities keep our working lives exciting and us stable, ultimately helping us master our working lives. Without them, those same lives might make us bored or too anxious.
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