I had a dream yesterday that I was late to a meeting with my boss at work–not my current work at Collective Self where I’m my own boss but my old work as learning solutions consultant at Microsoft (3 years ago). In the dream I awoke and had just 15 minutes to get to my 1:1 meeting at my office more than 30 minutes away. I quickly rescheduled the meeting to a later time and raced to work. When I got there, I realized that somehow I hadn’t been to work in 4 months. I couldn’t find my building at first. My group and another group in the division were fighting–groups that were getting along when I was last in. I was pretty sure that I shouldn’t be responsible for my project, because I couldn’t remember what it was, why I hadn’t been to work in 4 months, and why I had believed that I had quit months ago but nobody else knew it. It felt strange to be there, completely disorienting,  and I felt I’d let everyone there down. Oddly, nobody else felt that way. They were glad I was back and kept popping in to say hello, fill me in on what I’d missed, and ask what I’d been up to. But I was upset with myself, confused about what I should be doing, and frustrated to be in the dark. I sat down in my office, shut my eyes, and wracked my brains thinking “What should I be doing?!!!” At this point, I woke up from the dream.

I’ve occasionally dreamed about being back at Microsoft since I left in 2007. In the past I didn’t think much of it, figuring it meant that I missed the work and was working through the last lingering regret about leaving. But that’s not what this dream was. Although it was set in Microsoft–a safe, comfortable, and happy place for me–I think it was about my current fears about my work today. Starting a new business, becoming an external consultant, becoming an author, becoming a blogger–what I’m doing right now–is scary. I don’t often notice that consciously or say that out loud. This dream was calling out my current fears.

I find it interesting that part of me still considers Microsoft a safer place to be than what I’m doing now, even though I know what I’m doing today is what I’m meant to be doing. Part of that could be related to giving up a guaranteed, very nice paycheck. But I know that for me safety doesn’t equal big paycheck. I don’t need a ton of money to be comfortable and happy, and I have plenty. I think what made Microsoft safe for me was my work colleagues. I love having people to brainstorm with, people to point out when I’m about to do something stupid, people who pop in and say hello and remind me to stop working and eat lunch, and people to commiserate with when things get tough. I don’t think I’m going to feel completely safe in my new roles until I have some work colleagues to brainstorm and commiserate with, until I have a community of practice in which I can talk to others about self-organizing groups and work groups. For me, it’s not just that I miss having these people to talk to. I need them to function to my full potential.

So if you’re interested in the subjects of self-organizing groups or work groups or systems, or a topic you feel is closely related, and you feel as I do, e-mail me or call me. I’d like to begin to build a community of practice together. My new organization of one is just not enough for me!