Observing Stories of Professional Value

“The self is made, not given”Myerhoff, 1977.

During the final weeks of BCM313, we’ve closely observed the choice of words from three guest speakers reflecting on their personal professional values. Our subject coordinator Kate describes Dakota Feirer’s interview with Layne Brown as a conversation “about relationships, management and how to do self-work that helps navigate work in a right way.” Reflecting on the values I recognised from the experience, Layne’s commitment to community and knowledge of self is what resonated strongest with me. 

Layne told a story about a colleague who was gaining people’s trust and friendship by handing Tim Tam’s out. In theory, it’s a thoughtful way to engage with others and begin a narrative between two groups but as Layne said, “if that gift doesn’t come with follow up and genuine authenticity, it becomes useless.”

This value of authenticity and genuine intention is constantly practised in my professional life through my work at AUD’$. Being a third-person witness to Dakota and Layne’s conversation, I believe I’m similar to Layne in the way he hopes to make contributions to the community that can form generational changes and culture shifts. With his powerful knowledge of self and deep connection to his Indigenous ancestry, this value is also present in Layne’s personal life.

“Just because I don’t drink doesn’t mean I automatically got rid of the behaviours that my had passed down to me through generations, it just isn’t assassinated by alcohol anymore,” Layne explained. 

Through the reflective practice of Outsider Witnessing, this understanding of identity and commitment to self-work is something I’ve been working on throughout the last lockdown in Wollongong. An outsider witness is a third party invited to listen to and acknowledge the preferred stories and identity claims of the person. This is based on the fundamental assumption of Narrative Therapy that our sense of self is socially constructed and exists in our relationships with others (Carey & Russell, 2003). 

The framing of the sense of self was already interesting to me but when paired with introspection and Michael White’s idea of the Absent but Implicit, it becomes apparent that “we can only make sense of what things are by contrasting them to what they are not,”  (Carey, Russell & Walther, 2009). 

To use this framework in Layne’s Tim Tam story, it’s less about the gesture of handing out chocolate and more about what they could be doing. A Tim Tam is not a solution to a problem (unless hungry), it’s the start of a conversation to solve it. Deconstructing Layne’s value for authenticity, I realised that I’d like every action in my professional and personal life to convey a similar message of support, honesty and accountability.

Furthermore, from what I’ve learned in BCM313 I’ve started to actively apply outside witnessing to all the songs I review and artists I interview, validating their identity claims and allowing them to share stories through the lens of their most important values. While this was something I was mindful of in the past, Layne’s statement about following gifts up with genuine authenticity highlighted the main goal of AUD’$ and my professional life.

Working in the music industry with often disenfranchised and underrepresented groups, I have the responsibility and privilege of accurately representing the identity and values of those artists. Layne recognises that community support must extend further than the initial gift but to action that truly benefits the community. This is becoming more common with the prominence of social activism among younger generations and at AUD’$ and many other publications, it’s an essential priority and value of our brand.

Frank Tremain.


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