…continued from 7 Steps to Loving What You Do – Discovery 1:1
Understanding and Acceptance
Have you ever noticed how people (perhaps even you) seem to hate change and yet always wish for it? This mood of dissatisfaction expresses itself in our lives and most especially in our work. How many people do you know who are satisfied with their work? How many people do you know who like what they do but hate their boss? Or vice versa? How about those who complain no matter what they’re doing? We seem to always want things to change, yet when they do we don’t handle it very well. Perhaps we direct our dissatisfaction toward our work because for us work doesn’t have a human face; it is impersonal. There is no one person responsible. There is no one person capable of making the changes we want. There is no one person who can assure us that nothing will ever change. Perhaps we complain about our work because others do or because we always have or because it’s safer to attack work than it is to look at the issues that really upset us.
And why do company mergers create such tremendous anxiety among all levels of employees? Because such an event is a loud, roaring signal that things are about to change. It brings us face to face with the fundamental reality that was simply dwelling beneath the surface prior to the announced merger: change happens. And when we dwell in the unknown—what will happen to us? will we lose our job? will our benefits be reduced? will we be asked to move?—we let our fears take control. We indulge our runaway anxiety. After all, we are merely pawns in the company’s hands. But what we don’t realize is that nothing has really changed except our awareness. Even prior to the merger announcement our work situation was precarious—there were no guarantees, no stability, no security in any position. Whatever the situation, we need to find stability within ourselves and go there each time the fear of losing something we have, or not getting something we want, arises. We must find our inner strength and know that whatever happens we will remain intact—able to support our families and ourselves. The whims of our bosses, the fluctuations in the economy, the shifts in the demand for the product or service we offer, are all out of our control. So we must firmly plant ourselves in the soil of spiritual groundedness and sway gently with the changing winds of time, knowing that none is strong enough to uproot us. We will survive, we will prosper, we will be happy so long as our roots are firmly imbedded in the solid rock of acceptance and understanding.
On a hot day many people walk around complaining about the heat, miserable and cranky because the weather doesn’t suit them. These same people also complain when it’s rainy and cold or simply not a picture-perfect day. What these people lack is an acceptance of what is and an understanding that they are not in control. There’s an old Zen saying that you might want to write on a piece of paper and tack up over your desk or work station, or carry around with you, to remind you that you are not in charge.
When it’s cold, shiver. When it’s hot, sweat.
And not only are you not in charge of the weather, but you are also not in charge of company policy or how it gets executed or who your co-workers are. (Even if you are the boss who sets the company policy, you cannot control every little aspect of a dynamic organization.) So…
When it’s cold, shiver. When it’s hot, sweat.
Each time you look at it, and each time you hear yourself complaining about the weather or your job or your boss, let this saying remind you that the only way the weather, or anything else, will change is if you move to a different climate, or when time takes its course. But before you make any drastic changes, consider that staying put and sweating or shivering might be the best answer. Moving away will not guarantee that the new situation will be more to your liking. Let this saying also remind you that while you may not be in charge of the weather you are in charge of your reaction to it. And this is where you must look to understand why you are dissatisfied and what you can do about it. You must look to yourself.
You must first pay closer attention to the actual circumstances and come to an understanding of how and why things are the way they are. And sometimes you must learn to accept what is, without expecting any deeper understanding. This may sound obvious and simplistic, but the truth of your life may surprise you once you take a closer look.
So, as you begin look at yourself and your work life keep in mind the following questions: Is your work nature different and separate from your nature outside work? Is your job, your work, the cause of your dissatisfaction, or does the source lie elsewhere? Write for a few minutes addressing these two questions. Then sit for a few minutes and reflect on what you’ve discovered about yourself. Perhaps nothing new will reveal itself yet. This is okay. Or perhaps these two simple questions will stimulate more confusion than you’re ready to handle right now. This is okay, too. Just breathe, relax, and know that there is no right response. You are not expected to be any place but exactly where you are right now, in this moment. If you’re confused, be confused.
After you’ve taken a few minutes to contemplate them, put these two questions aside and move on. Come back to them from time to time and pay attention to the shifts that take place as you learn more about yourself and your approach to work. Know that what you touch on now is the merest beginning. And keep in mind that more will be revealed as you move along in this process of discovery, toward a clearer understanding and acceptance of who you are and what work means in your life.
Tao te Ching (#8)
The highest form of goodness is like water.
Because it benefits all things without competing
and has no trouble abiding in places that none would care to be,
it comes close to the Way.
In dwelling, what matters is keeping close to the ground.
In thinking, what matters is simplicity.
In dealing with others, what matters is benevolence.
In speaking, what matters is sincerity.
In business, what matters is efficiency.
In activity, what matters is timeliness.
When you are true to yourself
and don’t compare or compete,
you will live with honor.
To be continued…