“We’re always behind this metal and glass. Nobody touches you.” If you saw the move Crash you may recognize this line. The symbolism is piercing: We’re either tough like metal or ready to break with any pressure like glass.
This is the fragility in life. People collide. The kicker, though, is in the second sentence in the opening phrase to this post – Nobody touches you.
In business we ignore our fragility. Too often we act like we are metal. The moment someone touches you that piercing armor bounces hard up against that touch. Nobody touches you! In business, we have goals to achieve. There is no time for emotion. You brake and you’re no good to the business. You need to be tough as steel.
Obviously the metal and glass is a carefully crafted self-created shield. It’s an aid to create short cuts through our work. Fight for our agendas; our ideas; our vision. It helps us to reduce distractions. Get down to work. If we get close to the people at work, then we can compromise our plans for achievement.
The truth is we can’t exist or do good work without each other. We’re hard-wired for community. When people collide overlooking this simple truth there is conflict.
And at the heart of conflict is misunderstanding.
Misunderstanding, meet your brothers in battle: metal and glass. Or so the old way goes.
Our leaders in government. Our leaders in corporations. Our leaders in small businesses. You. Me. We are not untouchable. We need each other.
We need each other to reimagine how we work with one another.
We need each other to change how we measure value creation.
We need each other to stop this divisive battle of metal and glass colliding, pretending that we’re untouchable. Fighting believing my idea is better than your idea. Amidst the fighting we stopped hearing each other.
We must let down our shields, assess the broken glass and twisted metal, and take in the damage we’ve caused. Stop.
Take one side-step away from the distraction. Look.
We are alive to make this world one that works for everyone. In business we’ve lost sight of this – on the whole. Business is a great enabler of fulfilling this outcome.
When people collide it can’t be a reminder that we need each other. When people collide it’s an acknowledgement that good people and good ideas are working together to create value, to cause meaningful, purposeful, people-centered changes in our institutions and businesses.
Will we lose the metal and glass? No. It’s in our nature to collide.