Recently I attended a group leadership training event. It was filled with different personalities from different countries and ethnicities. Our task was to be innovative, in a very short amount of time, and to facilitate creativity for leaders.
On day two of our training, we had a group breakdown. One of the attendees had said a few off-color remarks, which sparked a conversation about his participation in the group. One bad remark led to another bad remark, and soon the energy of the entire group dropped. The flow and collaboration we had throughout the training seemed to disappear in a matter of minutes. Soon after, people started checking out. Everyone seemed less present, less responsive. The energy wasn't nearly as electric and creative. We did not get very far that day.
Have you ever experienced something like this at work? A colleague says a passive-aggressive comment and it makes you stew with anger the rest of the day, or your boss shuts down your suggestion, making you feel less excited about sharing your ideas? Or perhaps your co-workers do not share your values and ideas.
It made me wonder when compromise becomes complacency. We do our best and try hard, but our ideas aren't met with receptivity and excitement. We get excited. We have an awesome idea that's going to change the world. We go for it, and are met with resistance. Dismissal, even. We end up feeling defeated, saying things like, "It's a job, it pays the bills." We stop expressing ourselves and say less at the next meeting. We do what it takes to get by. We become complacent.
I think this is a dangerous place to be. It's bad business. It's what "Honey, I have a headache" is born from. It desexualizes us, dampens our light and squashes our creativity.
When I've worked at corporations and within groups, there have been times when I felt like I had to check a part of myself at the door. Being a carefree, light-hearted spirit didn't seem to be as effective at the work place. But how much of yourself do you have to trade in order to be part of a larger organization?
And do corporations kill the human spirit?
I think this is an important subject, one in which many organizations are reconsidering. Current ways of business and thinking don't seem to be getting us very far in the happiness and fulfillment scale. Absenteeism, insurance premiums, turnover rates and low morale are way more costly and harm people and profits in the long run. Not to mention, it's a painful way to live when you feel like you can't just be yourself at work.
There aren't many people who are willing to rock the boat. Life is expensive. Having a family takes a small fortune. Speaking out of turn can cost you. But that is exactly what's needed to foster creativity and innovation. We need people to say weird and absurd things that go outside corporate group think. We need spirited people.
Companies these days are focused on innovation. Google pays lots of money for leadership and learning. They even brought Eckhart Tolle in recently to talk about "Living with Meaning, Purpose and Wisdom in the Digital Age." But what fosters true creativity, genius and productivity?
When people feel safe, secure, happy and healthy, they tend to have better ideas, outperform, and attract more clients.
Happy employees are productive employees.
Being in a safe environment, feeling free in who you are, and working in a healthy space is paramount to being a successful, creative and innovative. It starts with strong and soulful leadership.
I think more businesses are catching on. People are tired of checking themselves at the door. They are tired of being tired. They want to show up and do something real. I think it's no accident that more people want meaning and purpose in their work.
Let's look at the energy we create at corporate workplace. Let's step away from the box and integrate spirituality and business.
Let's innovate the way we do business.
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