#Scintilla Day 7: My Peeps

Prompt: List the tribes you belong to: cultural, personal, literary, you get the drift. Talk about the experience of being in your element with your tribes.

The Goth Tribe

I’m going to go ahead and call them the Goth Tribe, even though this label is paltry, misinterpreted and (ironically) pale compared to the immensely colorful, vibrant and caring people within.

I first met this pack of brilliant souls when I found myself in a goth club more than ten years ago, having managed to miss the era at its inception and subsequent height. It didn’t matter; this club was alive and pulsing, and the instant I walked in, I felt safe.

As a person who tends to default to shyness and is not generally a bar-goer, I surprised myself by reaching out and getting to know people–and was further surprised when people reached out and got to know me. It was so easy! No one was judging, no one was assuming, everyone was just out having a good time.

Computer geeks, Renaissance Faire devotees, foodies, Scotch experts, gun enthusiasts, Lego builders….it still amazes me, ten years later, that I’ve found so many people who are like kin to me. Each with their own fabulous quirks, they make Saturday nights that much more special.

And the music is fantastic.

The Super Creative Team, or The Work Tribe

Made up of five people from my department and an auxilary member/personal mentor from another department, this team–these friends–have the power to make the 40+ hour work week seem effortless, horrid snafus seem mere hiccups, and the laughs seem endless.

Our self-dubbed label began tongue-in-cheek, but truly, it only takes two of us together at any one time to start the ideas flowing. Add more of us and the creativity goes nova, thoughts and notions spiraling out into a vista where anything seems possible–with even enough time to do it all in!

It’s not just work, of course. If we made a list, our things in common would span so many categories we’d give up tallying halfway through. Music, literature, sense of humor, experiences; in a half hour’s conversation, I learn more than in a structured classroom with teacher’s notes.

I don’t know how given I am to the “everything happens for a reason” adage, but it almost makes me think I was meant to be here in this place at this particular time in my career. And it’s awesome.

(Yeah,  I’m skipping a few scintillas. Our guinea pig has pneumonia. Pneumonia! It’s been keeping me busy, worried, and more than a little distracted.)

Can doodling at work help your career?

I’ve always had a special relationship with my dry erase whiteboard at work. There’s something about an expanse of untouched snow that makes me want to leave my mark on it. ALL OVER IT.

Sure, I’ve used my whiteboard properly for reminders and schedules, but the extra space left was just begging for artistic expression in the form of incessant doodling. Or so I thought.

It turned out that my co-workers had the same idea. It got so I’d never know what I’d come in to:

Animals (and musical notes) are shown here living in harmony.

Mathematical equations and references also appeared from time to time.

And hermit crabs.

We sometimes even had a bit of Shakespeare to add culture. (You may have noticed by now that my guinea pig is nearly a constant. Guinea pigs ALWAYS add class.)

Click for a bonus pic!

Here’s your career tip take-away:

Get a whiteboard. They’re cheap at drugstores if your company doesn’t provide one. Prop it up on your desk and invite your co-workers to leave a doodle with the marker color of their choice. I’ve had people whip something out in two minutes. I’ve seen others go away pondering what to draw and come back later in the day. Just the mere act of someone standing with marker poised can turn your cube into a mini water-cooler session. Before you know it, you’re getting to know more about the people you work with. How valuable is that?

The point is, this simple activity is a no-brainer. Doodling is a great ice-breaker if you’re new, a fun mid-year lift if you’ve all been slogging through a project, and an easy way to keep the camaraderie going throughout the year.

Just keep the markers out and be prepared for anything!

What simple things do you do for ice-breakers? How have you gotten to know your co-workers better? Share your experiences and tips in the comments!

Related:

Today I saw the Cubiclism collection of whiteboard graffiti that explodes doodling into dimensions I’ve yet to dare. Below is one example. Do go check out the rest.

Do you ever really leave the office at the office?

Vacation time! …and you’ve just packed your work laptop.

Sure, we may check personal email, Facebook and Twitter accounts when we’re on vacation lest we suffer from hideous withdrawal symptoms, but what about work email? Do you find yourself sneaking in “just an hour” of office catch-up when you should be cashing in on some much-needed relaxation time? 

If so, you’re not alone. Our Twitter #careerchat discussed these questions and more.

Takeaways from the chat:

  • Define your vacation priorities first: Do you want to spend more time with family, or have quiet time to work on a project?
  • If you take time off to relax, you will be more efficient and refreshed when you return.
  • If you’re constantly checking in at the office, what does that say about your team? Trust your colleagues to support you.
  • Leave emergency contact information in case something comes up—and define what an “emergency” really is!
  • As an entrepreneur, it’s hard to “switch off” when you’re always thinking about your business. But you still need a break to stay fresh and creative.

Resources:

Special thanks to: @MaggieMistal, @PaigeHolden, @Kblennon, @Austin_Curtis, @SaleStart, @CaSuPe15, @buona_vita, @DrWoody, @Careerbright and @KyleMcShane.

rethinkhr.org

Job seeker? Just want to get ahead in your career?

Join our Twitter #careerchat Tuesdays @ 12 PM CT to talk about everything from friending your boss on Facebook to personal branding to how to get a call back from recruiter.

How to join: Go to Tweetchat.com and follow the hashtag “careerchat” at noon CT every Tuesday!

Adapted from my post on MyPath.