Thriving at Work: It’s Not About Working Harder or Even Smarter


Exploring how to thrive

“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.”

[George Bernard Shaw]

    Education is a good way of helping customers become better buyers when the product or service is complex, it's something we employ successfully in businesses catering to other businesses where there's more than one person who needs to weigh in on decisions.

    Work has become more complex, and this complexity of rules, policies, regulations, and unspoken ways we do things here make being satisfied with our days harder. But it's not about working harder or even smarter than helps us feel valued it's something much simpler, and that is connection to meaning and purpose. This is where education is helpful inside organizations.

    Bill Fox has been doing a series of conversations to explore forward thinking workplaces. We talked about how to meet in the middle in our conversation, “Bottom it up and top it down,” I said. In a more recent conversation with Michael Neill, Bill talked about exploring to “look to see what's true.”

    This part in the conversation is hard hitting:

I remember years ago working with a weight loss group. I said to them “There aren't enough cookies in the world to make you feel loved and whole.” It's the wrong tool for the job. The things we traditionally think of people wanting like better salaries, more beanbags, whatever, are sources of “imitation connection”, “imitation purpose,” and “imitation happiness” at work.

What we're craving is that sense of being part of something bigger than us that matters.

It reminds me of other imitation games like: “comment theater” that tries to be conversation, “security theater” that tries to provide certainty, “recruiting theater” where the attempt to find the perfect person misses the non obvious choices that might be great for the business… and so on.

    Bill says, “I hadn't heard the use of the “imitation”phrasing before, but I think it's a great way to highlight the challenge.”

We see evidence in our community that even in the so called “best” of companies these “imitation” practices are used and leave a bitter aftertaste. Employees are not fooled and are searching for something more meaningful and authentic.

    The conversations Bill and Container 13 are hosting are a way to help people on both sides to engage and draw insights to “imitation” and discover what's true in a non-threatening way that advances everyone.”

    The other thing of note as I continue to explore opportunities with companies is that one can't give what they don't have. I hear talk of busyness, never time to do anything, constantly reacting to stuff in an attempt to look “fast” or to be perfect, and I think that might mean little to no space for reflection, good reading, care of interior environment… it's a general depletion of energy spinning wheels on “want”and “should.”

    As we race to be more productive at what used to work we're leaving no room for developing the spirit and intellect, to re-learn how to learn. There's an important economic aspect we're missing, too.

    I find the good conversation emerges when there is enough time to get over the frantic stuff, at the end of the event or meeting, under a cool sky filled with summer stars, we allow ourselves to relax again and just “be.”

    Education can help us rediscover the power of opening doors by opening our mind to the role of thought in our work and lives. The conversation we have in our heads is the one we end up having in the world.

    This article started as comments and ideas scattered through LinkedIn and Twitter.