Removing obstacles to collaboration and respect

In considering collaboration and respect, take a moment to reflect on these two work environments.
The first, the boss is always right. If challenged, the boss erupts in anger or becomes passive aggressive. The employees of the company are constantly stressed, pressured to get everything right, unable to fully engage or contribute their skills, talent, insight or wisdom. Everyone works a lot. While the company has success, there is always an underlying fear that it’s not enough and can be challenged or disrupted at anytime, so everyone must be diligent to stay one step ahead. Most of the employees don’t like their work (or the boss) but the pay is great, so they deal with it.
The second, the boss views the company as a team. Each employee was hired because of a strength they bring to the table. It’s safe to say, “I don’t know the answer, but we can figure it out.” The boss listens closely, encourages the team to take risks and solve problems, and uses failure as an opportunity to learn and grow. The company mantra is always be testing and be willing to be wrong. While they have desired outcomes, they approach them with curiosity — “What could be even better than this?” They are constantly looking for ways to understand their market and customers better in order to fill an unmet need. Every idea is worthy of hearing and many have led to great strides in the companies ever growing, almost unprecedented success.    The employees enjoy the work they do, but they enjoy the team more and find that the work is fun and even when it can be stressful, it’s still good.
Do one of those two describe the environment of your company?
If you are investing 40+ hours a week to your job, that is the majority of your waking hours. Makes sense to want to be fulfilled in your work. Yet a 2017 Gallup Poll identified only 30% of the American population actually enjoys their job. Only a third! Considering how much time we spend at work, well, that’s tragic!

Fulfillment starts within.

There are 5 obstacles to fulfillment:
  1. ignorance
  2. judgement
  3. attachment
  4. egoism
  5. fear of death
Ignorance might be the most fascinating obstacle. We confuse the familiar (but uncomfortable) with comfortable in our lives. We’ll stay in a job we hate and never follow a dream because the risk is too great, especially if that job has a lucrative salary. Ignorance also shows up in how we view situations and people because we give meaning to everything based on our past experiences.
The meaning we assign leads to judgement: good/bad, right/wrong, possible/impossible, hard/easy. When we judge, we fail to see a situation or a person “as is”, just the facts without any emotional attachment. We miss out on the nuances behind their actions or decisions. We we judge, we shut down the possibilities for other outcomes.
When we attach to particular worldview, outcomes, expectations, perspectives, thoughts, judgements, we pigeonhole ourselves. And when whatever we attach to is unmet, we suffer.
Attachment to pleasure and aversion to pain drives our ego. We want to be right, respected, accepted, honored, loved. When we fail or are challenged, our ego is threatened. That can easily drive our actions on a very subconscious level.
The final obstacle, fear of death, drives us far more than we realize. As we age, it can push us to do more, be more. But that isn’t necessarily a healthy way of living. It goes back to ego and the desire to leave a legacy. The focus is placed solely on extrinsic approval and completely bypasses intrinsic approval.
If you’ve ever had the opportunity to speak with a hospice worker, they all share the importance and value of attending to relationships, being present and not taking anything for granted. At the end of life, it’s relationships that matter most, not the winning and success.
Both leaders and employees can start to work through their 5 obstacles and almost immediately see a positive return for their efforts. Collaboration flows more freely and respect increases. Emotional intelligence and self-awareness is what drives the second business example from above. As you start to improve the relationship that you have with yourself, you can’t help but see how relationships with others become richer and more connected. In the end, that’s what counts most.
Check out my youtube channel. Each wednesday, I upload a yoga/mindfulness practice for leaders. This week is a practice to remove obstacles.