Aké Satia is the Chief Vision Officer at Aké Satia, a Human Capital firm in the DC area focused on strengthening organizations by bolstering the intersection of people strategy and business strategy.

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The Normalization of Division

Rejection Reason #5

When division is normalized, rejection runs rampant.

Over the past few weeks, we have explored rejection reasons in the series Why People Say No!
Thus far, our focus has been primarily on individuals. Today, we will raise our thinking to the societal level and explore a shift in societal culture affecting human behavior personally and professionally. – It is the normalization of division!

From the beginning

Since the beginning of time, humans have thrived on togetherness. From the defining story about Adam and Eve to the enchanting tale about Steve Trevor and Diana, aka Wonder Woman, to hair-raising stories about notorious duos like Bonnie and Clyde, we learned that humans may not always do good together, but humans certainly get more done together. As a result of this awareness and our natural inclination to partner and unite forces, we decided to live in communion: We built families, neighborhoods, organizations, cities, and nations.

Over time, though our inborn human needs and proclivities have not changed, we live like they have. – We seek to create a world where humans can exist independently of each other, even in the most basic social activities like feeding. Today, one can order groceries on DoorDash, pick up the groceries at their doorstep, prepare a meal with The CookBook App, dine at their kitchen island while streaming entertainment, and dispose of the trash in a chute – all without seeing or connecting with another human being: Welcome to the cultural norm of solo existence!
Solo existence is not about living alone. – Solo existence is living disconnected from others, where one is aware of the presence of others but is not truly seen and known by any other. 

The Birth of Solo Existence and Division

We live in a new era marked by the birth of solo existence.

Solo existence maximizes convenience and minimizes reliance on others. At an extreme, Solo Existence persuades one to eliminate others from their life altogether and brings to question the need for others and the value of community.  – One might think with fewer people or no one relying on me, I have fewer responsibilities, make fewer compromises, pay lower bills, and have more money and time to pursue my interests. – This sounds like a win, but is it?

Let us explore!

The marriage of division and Solo Existence!

A couple of weeks ago, we explored the dismal reality that feeling lonely is becoming a societal norm in It is not about you! – BLOG – www.akesatia.com. As we have heard, currently, we are living through a loneliness epidemic in the United States, with over half of adults and teens reporting feeling lonely. You may be inclined to attribute the surge in loneliness to the COVID-19 pandemic, but before you do, consider this: Before the pandemic, about half of U.S. adults reported experiencing measurable levels of loneliness. Social Connection — Current Priorities of the U.S. Surgeon General (hhs.gov) This is alarming, especially for a wealthy nation!  

Woefully, with the ever-increasing rise in wealth disparity, financial wealth has soared for a few, and emotional health has plummeted for many. In pursuit of relief, we unintentionally search for ways to numb our souls by familiarizing our hearts and minds with loss and seeking ways to normalize division. – As evidenced by the outpouring of minimizations, rationalizations, and hasty explanations for parting ways personally and professionally.
Rather than seeking to unite, we amplify our differences and exalt our preferences to justify our rationale for division.

To better grasp this, let us consider a classic union: marriage

The Fallacy of Normalizing Division

Today, some assert the union of marriage is a mere agreement, not requiring staying power and slightly more binding than a pinky swear. Supposedly, in such an agreement, one can say I do today, and I am out tomorrow without much consequence other than bothersome paperwork. – This is a fallacy!
One would be hard-pressed to find a loving couple hopping and skipping as they dissolve their bond and extinguish the love flame, they kindled to last forever. 

Anyone who has been around divorce, near or far, would assert that divorce shatters hearts, minds, and lives. Divorce is the ultimate symbol of repudiation, and the devastation has led some to conclude that the problem lies in the construct or the concept of marriage! Uncovering this requires a deep exploration! As we know, marriage is not a grand ceremony or an exchange of touching words and earnest intentions. Neither is marriage about keeping up with the Joneses, self-indulgence, or impressing others. Marriages that triumphed in dearth and agony and stood the test of time show that marriage is an adventure of commitment, building together, and pursuing a shared worthy purpose beyond self. The union of marriage is fundamentally a paragon for co-creating life. https://akesatia.com/co-creating-life/
Unfortunately, despite noble intentions and valiant efforts, this is not a reality for many!

From Jumping the broom to Jumping ship

According to the American Psychological Association, the current divorce rate in the United States is 40-50%. Notably, the rate has slowly declined over the past few decades. On the surface, this might seem promising, but let’s hold our horses because as there are fewer divorces today, there are also fewer marriages. The marriage rate declined from 8.2 per population in 2000 to 6.00 per population in 2021. Revealing Divorce Statistics In 2023 – Forbes Advisor

One might surmise that the decline in matrimony points to a vacuum of love or a lack of proficiency in loving the modern way. In response, a bounty of experts on love has surfaced. Including relationship coaches, love coaches, love gurus, and the like, all claiming to hold the key to endless bliss if you are willing to drop some coins in the bucket! Some propose that more is better, i.e., more dates, more partners, more experiences, or indulging in some other thrilling adventure to alleviate loneliness and discover wholeness.

But as the age-old question goes, Is more always better? 

Does more equate to better?

Statistics show that 50% of first marriages, 67% of second marriages, and 73% of third marriages end in divorce. In this realm, it appears more is not better. The passage of time, more partners, or more experience does not lead to long-term success or future blissThe High Failure Rate of Second and Third Marriages | Psychology Today 

But why are many that jump the broom jumping ship? 

There are many reasons, but the predominant reason is oxymoronic: obvious and surprising. Unlike one might think, it is not infidelity or money. The reason cited for 75% of divorces is lack of commitment! https://www.forbes.com/advisor/legal/divorce/divorce-statistics/ Due to the impact and sensitivity surrounding divorce, this statistic might evoke various sentiments: anger, surprise, sadness, apathy, regret, and much more.
Indeed, it is something to ponder, and this would lead one to wonder, where else does a similar trend surface?

New norms birth a new culture.

As in personal relationships, professionally, commitment is highly desirable. But what exactly is commitment? Commitment is an agreement. To commit is to pledge or engage (entrust) oneself, per the Online Etymology Dictionary. I love this definition, as it hits the mark! But of course, if you have gamophobia, aka a fear of commitment, reading this might make you break out in a cold sweat. 😉

Today, many senior managers and leaders complain that younger workers seem to head out the door as soon as they walk through it. You may have heard or espoused this viewpoint. If so, you are onto something!
At the start of 2022, the median employee tenure, i.e., how long an employee stays at a company, was 4.1 years, compared to 4.6 years a decade earlier. Employee Tenure in 2022 (bls.gov) This is a noticeable change, but it doesn’t quite raise alarm. However, peering into variances between age groups and generations does! Employees aged 45-54 years have an average median tenure of 7.2 years, while those aged 25-34 years, 3.0 years, and those aged 20-24 years, 1.3 years. An Analysis of Average Job Tenure Over the Years — CapRelo — CapRelo
Today, younger employees stay on the roster for a shorter duration, and why should they remain longer?

Can you give ONE good reason?

Why would an employee remain in my organization?
This is one of the most pivotal questions a people leader needs to contemplate. However, many only contend with this when there is a grave problem. Some may even respond flippantly: 
Employees should stay here because they get well paid. – This cheeky response does not cut it unless one legitimately includes Fort Knox and the Swiss National Bank as assets on their Balance Sheet! 😉 Because if money is the main reason to stay, more money is an excellent reason to leave. Indeed, aiming to be the highest bidder is a dangerous and misguided talent and relationship strategy!  

In years past, when an employee joined an organization, there was an expectation and assumption that they would be there for a lifetime, earn the gold watch, and usher their children into the organization. However, nowadays, many managers expect the average new employee to be gone before the paint is dry. For this reason, some hesitate to refresh the office walls with a new coat of paint, i.e., truly invest in relationships with employees! Also, many new employees realize that the manager who hired them may be gone before they start due to resignation, layoffs, or some other fancy reason. Therefore, some shield themselves from the pain of loss by investing just enough to get by and withholding commitment. Withholding commitment is a subliminal way to evade pain and the sting of rejection. 

But can a relationship built on a lack of commitment flourish and last?

Something to ponder.

Commitment enables unity, and when mutual and reciprocated, commitment is a force! Likewise, disunity often signals the end. As was wisely said, no city or house divided against itself will stand.

Importantly, this highlights the need for partnering. Partnering is essential in building strong personal and professional relationships. In years to come, unless there is a seismic shift, as the currently younger generations comprise the bulk of the workforce, the employee roster will be a revolving door, wherein many depart and some return. Such a dynamic will require leaders to possess refined partnering skills to drive commitment and keep the workforce engaged.
Something for us all to think about…

Until next time, stay safe and be well.

For you and to you,
Aké

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