This week, I’m going to be sharing some insights that I learned at this year’s Academy of Management conference in Chicago. I have attended the Academy of Management meeting every year for the last 10 years or so. You would think that it would get boring, but I’m always learning something new. Since the meeting is pretty expensive to attend, I thought I would share some insights about wellness and career development in general that I took away this year.

We need more people talking about wellness!

First, the meeting theme this year was “Improving Lives”, which was really exciting. Imagining how your work can make an impact is really motivating. So, spending time with colleagues imagining all of the ways that our work can improve lives was really engaging. But, one thing that academics don’t do well is translate our work into the real world. While there were a lot of great ideas that were being shared to improve the world, we didn’t have a lot of discussion about how to create avenues to share it.

This is the purpose of Workr Beeing, of course, but I wish that there were thousands of people trying this out. I don’t know that academics are alone in this lack of translation though. How can you translate what you do to solve pressing issues in the world? What talents do you have that you can share with others to improve your communities? I learned that there aren’t enough people asking those questions, so I thought that I would urge you to think about that as well. We are always trying to improve at Workr Beeing as well!

There are so many smart, talented people in the world. How can we come together to create solutions for really big problems like hunger, homelessness, or world conflict? Businesses and people who work within them have a lot to do with driving these conversations. We affect how people live and how they feel on a daily basis – financially, physically, and mentally. Are you or your employer creating environments that help people to live their best lives? Are you adding to the problem by creating jobs that are low-paying, lack good benefits, and don’t support healthy habits? These are the things that keep me up at night. But, I think we can work on them together if we each take time to really focus on the bigger picture.

cat meeting
What is unique about you and the work you do? Share it with the world!!

Meeting with like-minded people is energizing

One thing that I always feel great about after the meeting is that I took time to connect with people who I don’t work with but who I like being around. It’s really good to keep your networks strong, outside of those you work with. It can be hard to remember, but creating community is key for development. Sometimes it feels like we have so many things to do that taking time to connect with others seems burdensome.

But, exposing yourself to people outside of your workplace can really expand the way you think about things. You learn about what others are doing in their workplaces. Maybe you can talk about shared issues or challenges. Or you can collaborate on solutions to challenges with people who are “impartial” (i.e., they don’t know your boss). How are you working to grow and maintain your networks outside of work? It can be really refreshing to get out there and reconnect with people in your field!

meeting network
How many people do you reconnect with in your network? Try to get together with at least one person you haven’t seen in a while this month.

Inclusivity is the next frontier

While it might seem early to be thinking about next year already, the meeting theme for 2019 is about creating inclusive organizations. This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart because of my research interests. I am really excited to see people shifting focus from what is wrong with companies to what is right. For example, instead of focusing on what companies are doing to discriminate against employees, maybe we could study companies that are being proactively awesome and understand how.

In other words, it’s really important to understand and then eliminate the bad stuff. But, how do you become actively good? If we don’t know what that looks like, things will just stay neutral. Are you stuck in a neutral space? When do you feel your best? When is your company at its best? Pay attention to those things and then strive to get there more often. You are only your best if you try to be. We have talked about inclusivity before, if you’re interested.

What tips do you have for having an impact? For maintaining networks? For being the best you can be? We would love to hear from you in the comments!

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