Don’t Run From Institutions

Don't Run From Institutions

I have learned some hard lessons in life.  One is the value of institutions.

For much of my adult life, I always had one foot out the door of whatever institution I was affiliated with.  In college, I enjoyed being there, but wished I was more challenged.  I also found the politics on campus infantile.  As a corporate or government worker, I got along great with colleagues and succeeded, but a part of me always felt like there was something more out over the horizon.

These attitudes have certainly allowed me to travel far in life quickly, as I didn’t cling to the status quo beyond the point that made sense.

However, I realized over time that I dramatically undervalued what institutions have to offer.  Had I realized this earlier in life, I would not have taken these environments for granted.

  • First, an institution is simply a collection of people working towards a common purpose, with different individuals contributing specialized skills to common goals.  Any group of people always has positives and negatives–including different vibrational energies.  If you insist on the vibrations of any large institution perfectly matching up with you, you will be perpetually disappointed.  So you have to tolerate a degree of dissonance.
  • In a high functioning institution, you don’t have to do everything yourself.  You aren’t your own tech support.  You aren’t your own HR department setting up your own retirement plans.  This has tremendous value and allows you to develop highly specialized skills.
  • Institutions provide comradery and a sense of belonging to a group.  Especially in today’s sometimes atomized world, where community ties are weaker, belonging to an institution provides a sense of community.
  • Top-shelf institutions provide tremendous benefits.  Some provide a pension that pays for decades after you retire.  They pay for a huge chunk of your health care costs–which is extremely important in the modern United States where health care costs are out of control.  These benefits have massive economic and psychological value.
  • Groups of people can accomplish amazing things.  If you aren’t willing to function in groups (which eventually become an institution), you will be condemned to swim in waters as a smaller fish.  That may or may not make sense for you and your personality.

My advice?  Think hard about the institutions you want in your life.  Don’t expect perfection from anything created by a group of people.  Yes, move on when the time is right, but don’t take the institutions in your life for granted.