Integrated Lives

A few years ago I was surprised by a Christmas card from a business associate in North Carolina. This wasn't the typical...."All of us from 'The Company' wish you and yours a delightful holiday." This was a story about his life over the past year. It told about his wife, cats, new house, and work. Best of all, it included photos. I enjoyed it tremendously.

Then another surprising thing happened. The next year, I received similar correspondence from three other people I had business relationships with across the country. And I began to wonder...what if the Christmas cards are evidence of a bigger trend...the breaking down of the walls between different aspects of people's lives?

With the advent of cell phones, Blackberries, IM, decentralized offices and companies becoming more concerned about the human needs of their workforce--worlds are blending. The days of Henry Ford--who used to punish laughter in his factories--are gone. Workers who once compartmentalized personal and professional lives now seem to do so less and less. It would seem even the definition of the word "professional" is changing.

My guess is that in other eras when people lived over their shops, worked their farms or sold goods in the marketplace, there was no separation. It wasn't work life, home life, social life....it was just life. They had relationships with the people in their community. They knew the children and parents of the people they did business with. People had reputations not only for the type of work they did but also the type of friends and family members they were.

I wonder if this integration creates a better sense of community? If our lives are more integrated, will we be better connected? Will it be easier to know when people were in need? It will definitely require a certain level of authenticity and vulnerability.

And maybe, just maybe, Henry Ford was wrong, and the trend is righting itself. That seems like a very good thing.
© Random Cathy
Maira Gall