When Work is Not What You Expect?

It’s still early in the week and people are already expressing frustration. August tends to be a hectic time of year. End of summer, finishing vacations and preparing for back to school. And . . . We are STILL contending with the disruption of a pandemic, various political and scientific sides of the “debate”, while we come together to engage in earning our livelihood. Work.  It’s an arena that brings us together and it can showcase or exaggerate our differences.

In his book, Awake at Work, Michael Carroll shares principles for discovering clarity and balance in the midst of work’s chaos.

solve.workSimply put, “work is never quite what we expect, and being successful at our jobs is never as simple as we hope.

Keep in mind – Carroll’s book as published in 2006 – BEFORE Covid-19, before all of the new complexity of disruptions and chaos we are now navigating. Yet, we continue the struggle to reconcile our desire for the ideal work experience through the wild-ride-of-daily-life experience. Is there a way we can successfully engage with each other AND our work  with the messy hand we are dealt?

  • Wouldn’t it be wonderful if work was more than a frustration or imposition in our plans?
  • What would it be like if we were able to show up with curiosity instead of armed with our opinions?
  • How can we move forward while successful and compassionately engaged at work?

Maybe this uncharted terrain is exactly what we need. It requires that we pause and examine our attitudes complete with preferred and well-trained habits. Is there room to consider that these “complications” are exactly what we’ve been looking for and what we need?

“If we examine work closely, we will notice that whatever gets messy with our jobs demands that we slow down and pay attention. The difficulties go to the front of the line … and stare us straight in the face. But all too often, rather than responding with the resourceful attention that the situation requires, we dig in and resist.

“Resisting work’s difficulties and hoping for smooth sailing is pointless.

“What is required is surprisingly ordinary: simply to be who we are where we are, to subtly shift from getting somewhere fast to being somewhere completely.

“. . . By genuinely being ourselves in the present moment, we naturally become alert, open an d unusually skillful?

“Work . . . unfolds on its terms not ours. . .

We can be awake as it unfolds or we can resist – a choice we can and will make moment by moment for the rest of  our lives.”*

There could be a window of opportunity to play with disruption and problems. The next time the unplanned shows up – experiment with it. Challenge yourself to engage, instead of resist. Work  is WORK. . . not a problem to solve. Each situation may require a shift in approach, additional or fewer tools, or a change in perspective.

Work is WORK and Life is LIFE . They are not problems to solve, they have moments with unplanned encounters.

Every moment we are handed the opportunity to choose joy or resentment.

How will you engage with your choices?

*Excerpts from Awake At Work, by Michael Carroll