An Empty Shell

I love collecting shells on the beach and I was able to do that on a holiday at the Gold Coast recently. The excitement of sifting through the sand in the hope of finding the perfect shell keeps me walking for far longer than my legs would like.

Upon my return home I have a bag full of gorgeous shells! As I pull them all out and find places around our house to display them they don’t seem quite as special as they did on the beach. They have lost some of their magic and beauty when taken out of their environment and now they just seem like…well…empty shells.

I had another “empty shell” experience recently in my hunt for a job. The company had the values and culture that I dream about and I had actually dreamt about working for them for at least the past 10 years. You can imagine my surprise when I got an interview and then eventually got the job. You can imagine my dismay when I decided to turn the job down.

This experience made me realise that organisations are simply made up of people and people don’t always embody the values and culture of the organisation. The way the job was offered to me was in conflict with my own values (and those of the organisation) and left me feeling like I do when I bring shells home – underwhelmed…

You see, when you stand on the outside and look in things tend to appear magical and wonderful but when you scratch around a bit and become involved things can look very different. I am a huge fan of standing on the outside and looking in as you can learn a lot about people that way (I am a self confessed behaviour voyeur) however, you do miss a good dose of reality if you do this too often. As you might have realised, I am not a huge fan of reality but there are times when it does tend to bite you in the face!

So, what did I learn from this experience? I think Bella said it best when she suggested that we collect lots of shells and then throw them back to their home, into the sea. I will continue to collect shells on the beach, but I will only take home the really, really special ones. All the others can be thrown back into the sea where they belong. Sometimes, I wish I could do that with some people…

What are your “empty shell” experiences?

How do you behave/react when you have one of these experiences?

Are you living your organisation’s values when you talk to customers or prospective employees or are you contributing to the ’empty shell’ approach…?


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Damon
    Nov 22, 2010 @ 23:59:07

    Great metaphor for what has been an emotional roller coaster for you. Keep searching for that special shell!


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