It has been quite a long time since I have posted in this category and even though I have several ideas, I couldn’t apply them to a specific author.
Lately I read deeper on Kierkegaard and he is an author very easy to link to a specific them : Existentialism.
Few people know his name but Kierkegaard is to Existentialism what Freud is to psychoanalysis. The founding member and the incarnation of that concept.
I think it is very easy to understand how that concept can apply to consultants, and in a global manner to everyone at work.
In case you don’t know Kierkegaard, I will give you a bit of a summary of his work and life, because with everyone on that level, it is often linked.
The most famous story about Soren Kierkegaard is that he was in love and engaged to a young girl from an early age (Regine). However, as the time of the wedding come, he left that girl and decided he wanted to enjoy total freedom. He mostly lived a life of seclusion, trying to define what people could do to the world, what purpose life is.
What is less known of the story is that Kierkegaard was the youngest of a family of 7, however when he got 22, everyone else but one sibling had died. Death was around Kierkegaard action from an early age and it has major influence on his work.
From his work, the most famous idea was that you will always regret the decisions you make. Whatever the action you take.
You chose A over B, you will regret not having B, if you do the reverse, you will regret it as well.
One of his famous work was “Either/or”, inside Kierkegaard explains that you can live a life of love or a life of passion and desire. But you cannot have both, you will always have to chose one or the other. This was sort of an explanation for his brutal ended relationship with his fiancee.
Soren Kierkegaard thought that by making her his wife, he will kill the passion and desire he had for her. He chose freedom and desire for his life and never took a spouse.
By doing this choice, he also chose to not be bound to a life of necessities and a stable existence. He could put himself into work and defining what is really require to live a meaningful life.
Kierkegaard was a sharp criticism of the Danish high society, this needs to be put into context that Soren Kierkegaard has actually studied with most of his contemporary leaders in society. He was from a rich family and his only remaining brother was a bishop, which is quite a high place in the church.
Existentialism for consultants
Kierkegaard develops questions that are somehow familiar for consultants, or just for any worker in our business. Should I chose stability and safety by going to an in-house analytics team ? Or should I chose consultant job that changes constantly ? Or even freelancer that gives you total freedom.
Kierkegaard gave some advice and explain that be on the right position is to live a life in between 2 positions. Living within the finite is to have the safety and living in the infinite is to let yourself loose to any position and possibly become anything, which is nothing.
The ideal position should be in-between these positions and it is supposed to be in a constant movement. This movement is define by your actual self. So finding yourself is actual the actual challenge that everyone should achieve.
Therefore the answer to my previous question (in-house, consultant, freelance), is to be found on current self what is comfortable for you or not.
To come back to a more real example, it is what people may refer to the comfort zone.
What we learn from this philosopher, and you are free to follow his advice or not, is to find the position where you are always on the verge of your comfort zone. Not completely out so you are able to participate to the society but not comfortable enough so you are force to grow and improve. That philosophy should help you realizing yourself completely and create meaning to your life.
This is obviously a very summarized and vulgarized version of his work and he doesn’t hold all of the topics that Kierkegaard tackled with his work. On a last note, it is important to know that he gave to Regine all of his belonging when he died.
It seems for most that he chose a life of freedom and actually regret it…