Sunday, September 29, 2013

In All of My Affairs at Work

It is suggested that we “practice these principles in all of our affairs”, and these principles are the twelve steps and they are the concepts of honesty, open-mindedness, willingness and service.

I like to think that, especially after all these years, that I do that. I like to imagine myself someone who is a good partner and a good friend and a good neighbor—and I can point to specific ways in which I am those things.

But there’s another “affair” in which we must keep practicing and this one is one of the hardest. (The actual hardest is in our intimate affairs—with spouses and romantic partners—because we want sooo much and we are so afraid of not having that relationship go our way.) But up there at the top is who we are and how we are in the workplace.

Can I stay honest there? Not just not taking the pens and the Post-its but emotionally honest while maintaining appropriate work boundaries and a professional demeanor.

Can I remain open-minded? Whew!—that means I consider the possibility that I --and my way-- is not right? Can I be a beginner even while positioning myself as expert and competent enough to be respected?

Can I be willing? Willing to pitch in. Willing to help out. Willing to do someone else’s work sometimes. Willing to receive feedback graciously. And willing to really want that feedback and willing to ponder it, examine myself and make deep change?

And can I be of service? Can I help not just the people on my team but someone else as well—and not finagle to get credit. Can I go the extra mile, the extra hours, or the extra project without a grand show of either heroics or false humility? (You know this one right: “Oh no, happy to help, anything for the team?” while secretly hoping everyone who matters has taken note).

Yeah. I know. This “In all our affairs” is a hard one. At work I am at my most “progress not perfection” self. And I have to add humor and gentleness to the tools of this practice.

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