Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Well-Being In The Workplace

“You may say that I’m a dreamer but I’m not the only one”.
-John Lennon in the song Imagine.   
An increased sense of personal well-being at work, in real and practical ways, contributes to a positive and enjoyable work environment.  A pleasant environment filled with happy associates, coupled with feelings of team accomplishment and personal fulfillment, can contribute as much as anything to increased productivity, greater efficiency, and decreased absenteeism.  All of these things working together will affect the bottom line by contributing in positive ways to overall cost savings.  It is not enough to only look at process improvements and best practices.  The impact of environment cannot be underestimated.  I believe creating such an environment begins with the leaders.  How do you do it?  It begins with honesty, truth, caring, and transparency.  This is stuff you can’t fake.  If you try to do so your associates will see right through it.  We’ve got to do it and be real about it.  In order to be real we must be authentic.  Lance Secretan in his book One…The Art and Practice of Conscious Leadership actually suggests that leaders should love their people.  It probably would be helpful if they also loved one another.  In addition, it’s not enough for the leaders to care about their people.  The “people” need to care about their leaders.  We can’t treat one another like we are enemies.  The people who do the work and the people who manage the work are in a partnership.  It should not be an adversarial relationship.  This is where I would add trust to the mix.  I know that some of you probably think any talk about love and feelings is inappropriate in the workplace.  Some think we are here to get a job done, not love one another.  I’m not suggesting a phony and shallow pretending to care about one another.  I am suggesting the real deal.  Work is part of life and the caring that many people show for family, friends, and causes dear to their hearts should be expanded to include the work place.  What would the workplace be like if most people actually liked, or even loved, coming to work?  What would the workplace look like if we tried to outdo one another in kindness?  What would the workplace look like if there was more cooperation and less competition?  What would the workplace look like if there was less finger pointing or looking for someone to blame for mistakes?  What would it be like to ride the elevators and hear more laughter and less complaining?  What I am suggesting, and what Lance Secretan writes about, is a oneness and unity that will heal the separateness that too often exists. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Responding Versus Reacting

Someone once said to me, “Michael, I don’t think you have a sense of urgency about anything”.  I was a little offended when this was said to me but I responded in a calm manner.  I replied that I did have a sense of urgency for situations that required it.  Many people equate a sense of urgency with the image of a person running around like their hair is on fire.  I am generally a calm person and I usually respond to life in a calm manner.  What some people consider a sense of urgency is often a knee jerk reaction.  When something happens that needs my attention I try to respond rather than react.  Since I am a flawed human being I have freaked out on a rare occasion.  When I do this it is almost never the appropriate way to respond.  Overreacting is rarely appropriate.  If I am guilty of anything it is probably underreacting.  In my mind responding rather than reacting is a more thoughtful and considered approach.  Of course, this only applies to the kind of daily, routine challenges we all face.  If the building is on fire, there’s an accident, or someone is having a medical emergency, our instincts tend to kick in and we respond in a more immediate way often without consciously thinking about our actions.  I guess the challenge is to separate life’s true emergencies from situations that are merely inconveniences.  What is a real emergency and what is a perceived emergency is often a perception in the eye of the beholder.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Are You Feeling The Love?

Love is a complicated thing when you are an adult.  While many people show unconditional love on a daily basis, especially if they are parents, others struggle with how to show love and how to make those they love feel loved.  Many of us receive more love than we realize while often feeling unloved.  In a book I once read called The Noticer, the author stated that many people feel unloved, not because they are, but because they are not receiving the love they need.  For example, some men show love for their wives by fixing things or making improvements to their home.  However, if what the wife really needs is more time and conversation with her husband in order to feel loved all the home improvements in the world may not make her happy.  Many men need more attention than they are willing to admit and often want more emotional closeness than most women would believe.  People show love in different ways and people need love in different ways.  You may think you are the most loving person in the world but if the way you show love does not meet the needs of the ones you love, then someone is probably not very happy.  Too  often the way we show love and the way love is needed are not on the same page and people can be frustrated and unhappy.  There is no one way to love that works for everyone and it cannot be assumed that the ones you love feels loved.  Some people love easily and for others it is a struggle.  If you grew up feeling unloved it may be difficult for you to love others.  If you grew up in an unemotional family that rarely showed affection, you probably struggle to express your own emotions or to show affection for others.  If you grew up in a family that always expressed love and affection, you probably do the same with your created family and others in your life.  Let’s be honest.  We all want and need to be loved.  More importantly, we want to feel loved.  I am confident most people also want to love and they have a desire for the important people in their lives to feel loved.  I guess we all need to sometimes ask ourselves, “Do the people I love feel loved”?  I’m sure we’ve all heard the old saying “I’m just not feeling it”.  If you love someone make sure they are feeling the love.     

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Leading From The Heart

Here’s a thought I once read on Twitter.
People are sick and tired of managers and business analysts taking about efficiency, waste, and compliance.  They want to be engaged from the heart.
-Jeremy Scrivens
It is virtually impossible to work for a large corporation and not hear about efficiency, waste, and compliance.  Inefficiency, waste, and being out of compliance can translate into millions of dollars of lost profit.  This is not pocket change.  How can we care about these necessities of modern business and still be “engaged from the heart”.  Many people, especially in the workplace, are driven by their intellect.  Others, less conspicuous, are driven by their hearts.  Generally the intellect driven people are focused on the bottom line, profits, compliance, technology, and staying competitive.  The heart driven people are usually more concerned about the needs of the customers and employees.  How can we balance these two needs?  A company that doesn’t care will eventually go out of business.  A company that cares too much, to the point of being impudent about basic business decisions, will also go out of business.  We need a balance of the intellect and the heart.  There is no doubt in my mind that my company has some of the smartest people in the world.  We also have some of the most caring people in the world.  Having said this, I think we place too much emphasis on numbers based performance over heart based caring which is more challenging to measure.  Somehow we need to gauge how much our associates, and especially our leaders, are “engaged from the heart”.  We need to take care of business or we will have no business.  However, we also need to develop some authentic practices that promote the engagement of the heart within our business practices.  We need to place as much value on caring as we do on productivity.  Everyone has been evaluated at one time or another over numbers.  Have any of us ever been evaluated based on our level of caring and how much we are engaged from the heart?  It has been my experience that if you lead from the heart, people will be more accepting of your personal weaknesses.   

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Trivial And The Serious

What is serious to men is often very trivial in the sight of God. What in God might appear to us as “play” is perhaps what He Himself takes most seriously. At any rate the Lord plays and diverts Himself in the garden of His creation and if we could let go of our own obsession with what we think is the meaning of it all, we might be able to hear His call and follow Him in His mysterious, cosmic dance.
We do not have to go very far to catch echoes of that game, and of that dancing. When we are alone on a starlit night; when by chance we see the migrating birds in autumn descending on a grove of junipers to rest and eat; when we see children in a moment when they are really children; when we know love in our own hearts; or when, like the Japanese poet Basho we hear an old frog land in a quiet pond with a solitary splash – at such times the awakening, the turning inside out of all values, the “newness,” the emptiness, and the purity of vision that makes themselves evident, provide a glimpse of the cosmic dance.
-Thomas Merton in News Seeds of Contemplation

This is a wonderful thought from one of my favorite writers and spiritual masters.  Are you in the cosmic dance?  What is serious in our lives and what is trivial?  We often get them backwards.  We obsess over the trivial and we completely miss out on the serious.  Most of us are asleep even when we are walking around seemingly awake.  The trivial and the serious are all around us and we must discern which is which.  The serious is not always what seems most important and urgent.  What is trivial in the eyes of many is actually what is most important.  Too many trample a flower in pursuit of an illusion.  To participate in the cosmic dance one must hear the music of life and this is usually found in what the world thinks is trivial and unimportant.     

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Be Who You Are And Be Happy About It

I am in charge of how I feel and today I am choosing happiness.
I don’t always know how to be happy but I do know one way to be unhappy.  You will be unhappy if you are always trying to make everyone around you happy.  However, I think one way to be happy is to be who you are.  Almost from the moment of birth other people are trying to mold us into the kind of people that think we should be.  This includes parents, family, teachers, ministers, employers, and the world in general.  I have spent much of my life being resistant to this without totally ostracizing myself from family and society.  I once had a long talk with my granddaughter.  She was upset because she felt like people around her were trying to make her a “prissy” girl and she doesn’t want to be that kind of girl…at least not yet.  I told her to be who she wants to be and that I think she is perfect just the way she is.  Since I had her attention I also told her that girls can be anything they want to be just like boys.  When she was very little I told her a girl can do anything a boy can do.  Her reply was “We can’t pee standing up.”  My wife and I both told her that when she’s at our house she can be whoever she wants to be because there are no rules at our house.  All of you should be who you are assuming you are not a jerk.  I believe it was Shakespeare who said, “To thy own self be true”.  If you are a little weird in a good way, that’s fine.  The world is full of cookie cutter people.  If you have a sensitive nature, great!  If you’re a driven, ambitious person, I will get out of your way.  However, I encourage you to be nice on your way up the ladder because sooner or later you will be descending that ladder.  If you are artistic, I truly value you because the world needs more people who appreciate beauty.  Find yourself and don’t be afraid to let the world see who you are.  As I’ve said many times, we are all here for a reason.    

Thursday, May 14, 2015

How Life Looks Is A Matter Of Perspective

While walking around my office once I saw the following quote on a bulletin board.
“If the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence, try watering the grass on your side of the fence”.
I heard a similar quote once from my wife.
The grass is not greener on the other side of the fence.  It’s brown everywhere.
Sometimes when it comes to life we are all color blind.  Some of us see green grass and others see brown grass.  Oddly enough we are often looking at the same grass.  Everything in life is a matter of perspective and attitude.  I saw a movie once called “Life is Beautiful”.  It was the story of a father and a young son who were prisoners in a German concentration camp during World War II.  The father of course knew the severity of their situation.  However, in order to protect his son he created a scenario where the son thought they were playing a game.  The son had no idea of the actual situation that he and his father were in.  I am not saying that we should all pretend that our actual situations are not what they are.  I just wanted to make a point that different people can see the same situations in very different ways.  Some of us are never happy or content.  Others of us are always or frequently very happy and content.  More stuff usually doesn’t create more happiness.  It probably only creates more distraction from our real state of mind.  Great happiness can be found in simplicity.  If the grass always looks green to you, you are probably a happy and content person.  If the grass always or frequently looks brown to you, you might want to adjust the lens on your vision.