You’re a creative for a large corporation – a community manager perhaps, or a copywriter. Even a developer of internal documents and programs. A knowledge worker. You’re exceedingly good at what you do – you’ve been called into the C-suite a number of times to help out with disasters, and people in general respect you.
You work from a coffee shop off the main roads. You bring your laptop, your notebooks, your very high quality headphones. You go early, set up near the power outlet, and dig in long before the staff even has the sleep out of their eyes. You take your time – sometimes your day is ten hours long, but you bill the company for eight, reliably. You work, you watch. You’re the quintessential cafe witness.
You want to be invisible.
Why? Beyond being a leader in your workplace, you’re a thought leader in your industry. You’re on Twitter – TweetDeck, or HootSuite, or whatever you’re using to broadcast/aggregate never closes. You’re even penning a book. You’re on the verge of celebrity. Why would you want to downplay your achievement by sitting in a coffee shop silently, away from the office where you are respected, and tap away silently at a laptop for ten hours every day?
Because you want to do your work.
Not everyone is motivated by achievement. Some people are motivated by quality, production, and the satisfaction that comes with results. Not by the visible marks those results make on the world. Community – that amorphous, diverse ideal of ongoing human interaction and interpersonal support – requires so thoroughly the work that these people do, but has no accurate compensation for them which does not strip them of their self-defined invisibility.
Our rewards for good work are fairly one-dimensional. Money. Fame. Notoriety. Power. All of these things are seen as just rewards for ongoing contribution to a community. But how do we ascribe power to those who choose to abdicate it? How can we respect people who walk away from what the rest of us see as opportunity to shine, to be heard – to be seen?
Invisibility can be a great ally, especially for knowledge workers in large communities. How do we encourage our people to discover whether this is a tool they can use effectively?