If what Aristotle said is true, that "we are what we repeatedly do," then I have some concerns about the kinds of people we're becoming in today's workplace. Many of us are mindlessly practicing some nasty habits in the office that undermine what makes us human. Here are some of the things that we practice in the workplace:
Not taking responsibility for our actions out of fear of being rejected, punished, or shamed
Viewing people as though they're all replaceable cogs in a machine
Complaining (about everything)
Only seeing scarcity - not enough hours, resources, money, etc.
Frenzied urgency (about everything)
Abusing our bodies by pumping them with caffeine and sugar and gobbling lunch at our desks
Neglecting our own inner wisdom because we've been taught to trust external data more than our own intuition
It's kind of terrifying to think that if those are the things we're repeatedly doing, then those are the kinds of people we'll become.
I don't want to become someone who complains, is a frenzied mess, or neglects my own inner truth all the time, and I bet you don't, either. The beauty of Aristotle's quote and of this idea that practice makes perfect is that you can choose what to practice. You have the freedom to mindfully begin practicing a new way of being, and that's a beautiful thing.
Here are some things that I wish we practiced more often in our worklives:
Taking responsibility for our actions and moving on
Work life integration (or balance)
Seeing abundance - knowing we have enough money, resources, time, support, etc.
Stillness and silence
For people who have been socialized to perfect the harmful habits in the first list, it's going to take mindful, loving practice in order to become different people who inhabit different workplaces.
We have to be intentional about what we repeatedly do if we want to become the best versions of ourselves. And we can start small.
If you want to develop a different way of being, pick one thing off of the second list that you want to start practicing (it should be something that resonates with you, so if you don't see anything on my list, you can totally make up your own).
Next, I'd recommend making a visual representation of your practice to help you keep it top of mind and to remind yourself that this is an important thing for you to include in each day. I created a really simple calendar page to help me focus on balance this month, and I'm putting a little star down for every day that I prioritize my overall well-being over an obsessive need to be productive. You can download this calendar page here in case it's helpful!
You'll notice that this 30-day calendar doesn't have actual dates in it, which is important. If you're anything like me, if you saw three blank days where you "failed" to practice your thing, your mind would go into its "I'm such a piece of sh*t who can't stick with anything" tirade, and that is not welcome here. No, this calendar will have no gaps. I don't care if it takes me 50 days to have 30 days of balance, the point is the practice. Loving, graceful practice.
If practice makes perfect, then that means that we can change the dehumanizing habits that we've become so used to in our worklives by practicing other things instead.
We can choose to focus on what we have instead of what we don't have, what we enjoy instead of what we hate doing, and how we can give instead of what we can get.
This month I'm practicing balanced self-care and choosing to focus on how to be instead of what to do. I'll let you know how it goes, but so far, yikes - this is a tough one!
I'm committed to the practice, though, and I hope you'll commit to practicing something new today, too.
Know someone who needs to practice a new set of skills? Share the love!