“And when you work with love you bind yourself to yourself, and to one another, and to God….
Work is love made visible.
And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work…
For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger.
And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge distills a poison in the wine…” ~Kahlil Gibran in “The Prophet”
Work is love made visible…how beautiful is that? I’ve written often about the impact of negative attitudes, focus and language used on a consistent basis. What if we consistently showed up for our work with this attitude, focus and language? What if our approach to challenges came from a perception that life is a game to play, learn from and ultimately we win some, lose some vs. life is a struggle to be survived and trudged through? Which type of person would you want to work with?
Our work is contribution, the energy we bring to it a gift when it is positive and fully engaged…a drain on ourselves and others when it is negative and half-hearted. Whether we are running a company, answering phones, fixing computers, at home caring for children full-time or even cooking a meal the ability to live our lives fully engaged is so incredibly important to our well-being and contribution.
We can be a positive influence from wherever we sit, whatever we are doing. I would like to share a story from my own experience to illustrate this. I mentioned earlier in the series that I had a period of time where I had several medical issues. Towards the end of this and after much poking, prodding, surgery, medications, Doctor’s offices, and emotional stress I had one last test to take at a large hospital in Atlanta. I was nervous about what the outcome of this test would be, and in hindsight should not have done this one alone. When I arrived, just finding a place to park and where I needed to be in this enormous hospital was a little stressful. I found the information desk to get assistance but the women there ignored me as I stood there waiting, busy talking about something else. I waited a few minutes for them to finish and acknowledge me, but then I started to worry I was going to be late and so interrupted apologetically. They were not happy with me and not terribly friendly, but they did point me in the right direction. I managed to find the check-in for my type of procedure after many twists and turns and elevators. I opted for nothing to calm or sedate me because I was driving, and because I had missed so much work in all this I felt I needed to get back as soon as it was over. Again…in hindsight, should not have done this. I was in such a state lying there uncomfortably in my lovely paper gown with strangers around me and bright lights blinding me that I was nearly in tears, and they hadn’t even started the poking and prodding yet! Once it was all over I felt shaky but it was done, and so I headed to my car, anxious to be out of there. I got a validated parking ticket from check-in, but when I went to leave it turned out to be useless. There were multiple parking areas and I had chosen the wrong one. The woman at the parking garage was terrible, even more unfriendly than the women at the information desk. I will never forget it. I was in no mood to argue, I just wanted out so I asked her what I owed her. But I hadn’t planned to pay to park and didn’t have enough cash. I noticed on the ticket that I was literally one minute over into the next hour and was charged for the full hour, but she wasn’t budging. She was so incredibly condescending and rude. She didn’t say, “I’m sorry, it is the system and not something I can override.” or “I know this parking area is confusing, but I unfortunately can’t use this validation ticket here.”, or even when I said I’m a few dollars short, “That’s ok, we take credit cards.” As she glared at me with her arms crossed because I didn’t have enough money, I had to ask her if they take credit cards. I paid, I drove away and I cried the entire way back thinking: Does she not know that the people visiting and leaving here are most likely not here for happy reasons? I was relatively minor compared to what some people leaving there could be facing and dealing with. I will never use that hospital again. I changed Doctors to never have to go to that hospital again.
And so what does all this have to do with tolerations you ask? If your life is full of things that are keeping you from being fully engaged at work, then you are stifling your ability to be a positive influence and contribute. How we show up for work matters. The work we do matters and is needed, even if it isn’t what we want to do long term. The impact we have on the people around us matters and our contribution is important. Being able to work is a blessing, especially when you’ve connected it with something beyond yourself.
This week’s worksheet is about working in a way that is optimal. In their book “The Power of Full Engagement”, Jim Loehr and Tony Scwhartz write about how managing our energy, not our time, is the key to high performance and personal renewal. I believe one of the reasons so many of the endorsements I’ve received include statements about not just my talents but that I am fun to work with and calm under pressure is because I was doing this most of the time on a day-to-day basis. Not to the level this book takes it, I wish I had found it sooner. In the book they write “To be fully engaged, we must be physically energized, emotionally connected, mentally focused and spiritually aligned with a purpose beyond our immediate self-interest.” All the work we’re doing in this six week series touches on these areas. This week’s worksheet will focus on our work environment specifically. But I think it is important to re-iterate here that we are not compartmentalized beings, and when we’re not taking care of all these areas we’re not able to be our best, no matter how organized our desk and work is.
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