Posts Tagged ‘culture’

As the Paradigm Shifts #L: Loneliness

by Rosie Kuhn on June 29, 2011

You probably thought that since we are talking about spirituality in business that love would be the L word for this week. No. Everything we’ve discussed and much of what we will be discussing engages and exercises the muscles of love. No need to go there today.

Though we spend hours with our cohorts, colleagues, team members, rarely do we engage in such a way that we feel heard and seen for who we are and for what we really bring with us to the office.

Loneliness is a spiritual crisis for every individual on this planet. It is isolation from ourselves, our highest truth and our highest good. It’s self-abandonment and self-deprecation that shows itself by the company we keep and the companies we work for.

We can’t blame anyone for this malady from which we all suffer and to which we all contribute. All we can do is to begin to cultivate the awareness that each of us can contribute to the resurrection of the Self through conscious and thoughtful connection with everyone at work.

It isn’t hard to cultivate connection– we’ve been discussing it all along. It’s just a matter of deciding what you are committed to. You heal others and the reward is you heal yourself at the same time.

Time to Google

There was a part of me that was unsure how accurate I was regarding the degree to which loneliness permeates our corporate cultures. Not every company or corporations is afflicted with employees that suffer from loneliness but there are enough.

I googled Loneliness in Business and found one website in particular that shared many views of loneliness and how sometime the loneliness and isolation experienced in the working environment led to depression, illness, stress, lack of motivation and the reality that nobody really cares!

Emily White, author of Lonely: Learning to Live with Solitude has a blog site on Loneliness & Work. It is an open invitation for those who experience loneliness at work to write and share their experience. Here are a few comments that I found valuable to share:

“I feel invisible at work more and more. I’m a manager and my job is to promote the great work my staff does, which they do, but I find myself feeling sad that the people in our organization don’t come to me for questions and the like.”

“I used to work for a small advertising agency and in the beginning, I felt it would lead to more friendships, but it didn’t. … there were also the usual stresses of personality conflict and turf battles in the office. Plus, the … already well-defined cliques …”

“I work from home myself and the isolation and loneliness can be overwhelming. I do have to go to meetings occasionally, and I meet people for lunch every week, but it isn’t enough.

HR regulations that ignore the fact that in many cases we spend more time with the people from work than we do with anyone else in our lives. Regulations in our lawsuit-fearful, spineless management work lives are imposing isolation – not alone-ness – on all of us. We become so fearful of lawsuits or invasions of our private lives by corporate attorneys claiming that associating in our private times with workers is the company’s business that we avoid making meaningful relationships or even attempting.

A Lack of Shared Values

I asked a friend of my, Jen, about her experience of loneliness while she worked in the corporate world in Silicon Valley. She expressed that she had a lot of friends at work but found they didn’t share the same values. This gave her a sense of disconnection and isolation. As she spoke about it today, eight years after leaving her job, she realized that she was unaware of the degree to which she felt disconnected from those with whom she spent the majority of her days. She didn’t have the awareness or the language to even know her own feelings. Her current lifestyle fulfills her requirements for connection and for solitude, which she says is so important to her.

Bringing awareness to the quality of life we live within ourselves and within the environment within which we not only work but create most of our significant relationships and with whom we spend the greater part of our day – this can only begin to break the barrier of silence we’ve created within ourselves and those around us. It means interfacing with vulnerability – as is always the case when growing ones spiritual intelligence.

Residuals of childhood patterning too often are the foundations for the choice-making process we enter into to create the social and professional environments we find ourselves in. Choosing to choose intentionally what it is you are wanting to create for yourself and others regarding your work environment will contribute in phenomenal ways to the actualizing of such a place. The question to ask is — What is it you are wanting?

Flexible Focus #45: My Cup Runneth Over

by William Reed on March 17, 2011

In our pursuit of prosperity, we tend to take for granted the blessings that we already have in abundance. A Greek myth which made a big impression on me as a child was the story of King Midas and the Golden Touch. The King was granted a gift to his greed that whatever he touched would turn to gold, but the gift was a curse because he petrified everything and everyone he touched, turning it into a golden object devoid of life.

Gold is as perennial in our culture as greed itself. While we talk about a heart of gold, good as gold, and the Golden Age, we often find that gold can bring out the worst in human nature, from gold diggers to Goldfinger. It is often taken as a symbol of wealth, the gold standard. But it is seldom seen as a symbol of abundance. Let your helping hand be one of Kindness, not a golden touch.

Abundance in 8 areas of life

The Mandala Chart looks at wealth as part of a larger mosaic, and abundance as the experience of blessings in 8 areas of life: health, business, finances, home, society, character, learning, and leisure. What does this mean, and how is it possible to achieve such a thing?

We have seen how abundance eludes the grasp of greed. The real appreciation of what we already have begins with gratitude. All common complaints fade in the light of the Jewish proverb that, I felt sorry for myself because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.

But gratitude grows into giving, and is a principle seen everywhere in nature. Japanese refer to tarai no mizu, the way water in a basin flows away from you when you try to pull it in, and comes back to you when you push it away. This is the Japanese way of describing the Law of Attraction, that givers gain. Rather than trying to hoard everything for yourself, you will find it much easier and more appealing to let go and let flow.

The Mandala Chart gives you a way to put this into practice. Take a 3×3 chart and in the center write down a compelling issue in your life from one of the 8 areas of life listed above. Use the surrounding frames to write out at least 8 ways in which you could reframe your problem by focusing on what you can give, rather than what you can get. Chances are that you can take specific actions on one or more of these ideas, and the results will surprise you, because this is the opposite approach which most of us take to solving our problems.

In business it means being more client-focused, at home it means focusing more on your family than on your self, and in self-development it means concentrating on your strengths rather than weaknesses. It means learning by teaching, giving pleasure rather than taking it, eating to 80 percent of your fill, investing instead of spending, and doing things for others without expectation of return. Abundance may be more about who you are than what you have.

A second look at the hierarchy of needs

Abraham Maslow in 1943 proposed a psychological theory that human beings had a hierarchy of needs, from physiological needs at the base, followed by safety needs, then the need for love/belonging, for self-esteem, and what he called self-actualization at the pinnacle, where the finer elements of human character come into expression. Maslow’s theory had a profound influence on developmental and growth psychology, as well as on the positive psychology movement which followed years later. This is not surprising, because Maslow focused his study on exemplary people and the elite of the population, rather than studying abnormal or dysfunctional states of mind.

But the premise of Maslow’s approach was that growth was linear, developmental, hierarchical, and this is fundamentally different from the premise of the Mandala Chart, which is synchronistic, serendipitous, and holistic. Grounded in the framework of Buddhist thought, the Mandala Chart sees all of these needs existing simultaneously, and expressed in each area of life. You can satisfy your stomach and your spirit, without separating them into levels of development.

A Samurai swordsman and Zen Master named Gettan who lived in 17th Century Japan said that there are three kinds of disciples: those who impart Zen to others, those who maintain the temples and shrines, and then there are the rice bags and clothes hangers. While this was no doubt a criticism of people who were disciples in name only, Zen Masters made frequent reference to the attainment of satori, or spiritual awakening, while in the performance of daily disciplines. They did not separate spiritual insight from daily life. Satori itself is sudden and serendipitous, not hierarchical and developmental.

Engaging others in the process

The quality of abundance is not something to experience in solitude. It starts with the appreciation that your cup runneth over even now, and that it gets even better when you share your blessings with others. When viewed from the 8-frame perspective of the Mandala Chart, it seems that there is no limit to the ways in which you can do this, other than the limitations you impose on your perspective.

Ask people what they think, how they feel, and in what ways you can help. Ask better questions, and engage in great conversations. Learn to engage others with interesting shifts in perspective, like a brisk tennis volley on an 8-frame court. Seek out new perspectives yourself, expert perspectives, historical perspectives, universal perspectives. Most of all, have fun with flexible focus, and watch how quickly the process catches on.

Do you have a rock star culture in your organization?

by Himanshu Jhamb on January 11, 2010

In a world where heroes are worshiped, superheroes idolized and rock stars treated as gods, somehow it gets lost upon us that the true power lies in high performance teams and not just embodied in one person, however good that person might be. Corporations are in the quest of seeking out individuals who are superstars – you can pick up any job requirement write-up and you’ll see a huge bent towards making sure the person sought after is an expert in at least 5 areas, a one-man-army and then, somewhere down there, in a tiny bullet point you will find a feeble mention that “Candidate must be a good team player”. Am I the only one who sees something amiss here?

Here’s a little story from my early career days:

I worked for a young organization where the team comprised of people who labeled themselves “Rock Stars” (seriously, they used to call themselves that). They were ambitious, competent, competitive, hungry, arrogant and loud. I still remember my first day as a trainee when one of them “Oriented” me on my responsibilities, the product, the customers and the services we provide… all in the space of 2 hours… and I was thrown in the deep waters to sink or swim. When I questioned this process, I was told – “Oh! Everyone has gone through this – after all, we only hire Rock Stars!” Only problem was – I didn’t feel much like a rock star when I was sitting in front of the customer the next day as an expert on the project. As time went by, I saw that my fellow Rock Stars were very talented and savvy but all of them kept “Winging” stuff because the philosophy of being a Rock Star begins with making tall promises (sometimes, unattainable) and then stretching to deliver. Sometimes things worked really well and they returned from projects as Heroes… though, most of the times, projects went awry and there was a lot of “coping” to do… but the label “Rock Stars” stuck to them. The one consequence that mostly all of them faced was they worked very long hours and over time, burned out.

So, what do you do when you see symptoms of a “Rock Star Culture” in your team. Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Ask many “How” Questions: This is the part that gets “Winged” most of the time. People make promises based on a “Feeling”. While I am not a total non-believer of this (because sometimes actions need to be committed to before planning – just talk to an entrepreneur, if you want a lively discussion on this one!) BUT many a times, the feeling falls under the area of  a story about things getting done without any thinking on how they will be done and who will do what.
  2. Estimate a little higher: Rock Stars know that in order to retain the mantle, they need to overachieve. Nothing wrong with that – except, sometimes they promise very aggressive estimates and overlook dependencies that are not easily visible at the start of the projects. The little bit of higher estimates gives them room to cope, when unforeseeable situations occur (and they do!).
  3. Make them commit to a Project Plan: A well laid out plan takes care of the concerns around “eating more than you can chew” because it forces you to ask fundamental questions like:
    • What tasks need to be done to achieve the final goal
    • Who will do it
    • What are the dependencies that must be taken care of to complete a task
    • How much effort is needed to complete a task
    • When will it get done
  4. Foster a Team environment: Reward people when they look out for each other, help each other and back each other – all aspects of good teamwork, encourage communication and coordination between team members, Acknowledge individual feats but amplify the team achievements more!

True, teams are made of individuals and the more skillful the individuals comprising the team, the better the capacity of the team… but teams are teams. What we are looking for is “High Performance Teams” and THAT comes not from gathering a bunch of superstars in a group BUT from Focused teams supporting each other at each step of the journey… Yes, by all means, have Rock Stars on your team but in the end what really matters is you need to have a Rocking TEAM!