June, 2021

Energy Exchange

Practicing your professional talents in exchange for someone else's is a great way to get feedback, generate confidence and build community.

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I believe that no skilled professional is one dimensional. Whether you are an accountant, dentist or bar tender, there is a part of you that is curious and looking to grow. A mortgage to pay, a child to care for or a car to fill are all excuses to stay the course and not indulge that curiosity. This is especially true when that curiosity can jeopardize the experience of the person paying. We silence that curiosity and adhere to the norm - delivering what is expected at the cost of what we might be interested in exploring. I think we can all agree this breeds a boring and unhealthy workforce.

Now, indulging that curiosity doesn't mean making a drastic career change - you may love your job but are looking for something else more than a hobby. I see it as exploring areas that might surround your profession that you believe you are good at, but are reluctant to charge for. For a bartender this might be mixing a new daring drink, or, for a financial accountant it might be small business consulting. For me it was combining my interest in photography and webdesign with my background in marketing.

 

I am a self taught photographer that enjoys telling visual stories and evoking emotion and action. Sure I understand all the technical terms, own a professional camera, 7 lenses and all the other gear but I didn't feel my skills were good enough to charge for. Giving away my time for free didn't seem fair either. Like most working full time from 9-5+ at a desk, I had developed some aches and pains. When the opportunity to trade my skills in photography for advice on alleviating those pains and treatment tips I took it.

An energy exchange is the concept of swapping your skills for someone else's without the involvement of money. It is a simple idea but can have a big impact. Without the transaction of money, it frees both parties from the feeling of being obligated to be perfect. You are more sincere with how you deliver your services and the motivation comes intrinsically. Often both parties deliver an exchanged service better than they would if they were financially gaining from the relationship. You are more likely to take risks, try new things and be more creative. You truly want your 'customer' to benefit from the exercise. I liken it to Christmas morning - sometimes giving is more rewarding than receiving.

An energy exchange facilitates an more open relationship where parties are more likely to offer feedback and help one another get better, generating confidence and building trust. This affirmation from someone enables self-empowerment and fosters a culture of mentorship. It builds community and can lead one to explore affiliate career opportunities or responsibilities. I believe it can reshape the way you perceive your current career and is a great way to combine your professional identity with the hobbies you enjoy.

I encourage anyone to explore skills and talents by sharing them with others in the form of an energy exchange. Chatting with extended friends or colleagues can yield rewarding results. A small word of caution - if you are a medical or healthcare professional, I think you know there are certain liability constraints so tread carefully.

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