Wednesday Words

At My Life’s Work, we view opportunities for independent reflection as important in a person’s own process for building self-awareness, wisdom, new behaviors, and different actions.

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November 19, 2014 - Running FROM Office

Well, we’re two weeks beyond the mid-term elections.   Congress is about to go on holiday “recess” and perhaps it’s time for us to do so as well.  The elections however got me thinking about recess in another way  – our running behavior and, specifically, the opposite of “running FOR office.” Rather…

Running FROM office. 

First, a caveat. Let’s agree that an office is where you complete your “work,” broadly defined.  It may be standard in its four-walled architecture or not. We, as occupants, determine its space and décor.

And yet, we run.  Why?

There are so many plausible explanations for a quick retreat from our workspace.  Consider the following, explanations, acknowledging that more than one may resonate:

Rushing away.  Sometimes, we hurry because our work is, simply and sadly put, unfulfilling, draining.  The clock, real or internally set, signals that “it’s the end of the [work] day” and we’re out the door with a deep breath, with relief.

Rushing toward.  Then, there are those of us for whom our office work is fine but life outside its walls is simply better.  The clock, real or internally set, signals “it’s the end of the [work] day “ and we’re out the door with anticipation, glee.

Rushing because we are out of balance  Our fundamental time management issues aside, when office priorities bleed into the “out of office” ones, we find ourselves hurrying and harried.   The clock, real or internally set, signals “it’s the end of the [work] day” and we ignore it, only to realize second, minutes, hours later that we’re late or we’ve entirely missed something equally or differently important.

Rushing because that’s the energy to which we’ve become accustomed, comfortable.  For many of us, the only behavior we know is to rush.  Our minds race and our feet, hands, and heartbeat follow suit.  The clock, real or internal, never signals the end of the [work] day because we fail to set the alarm in the first place.

So, what’s the problem with speed?  It’s human nature these days to

  • have our hands (and feet) churning in lots of stuff.
  • view “fast” as a requirement for success.
  • try and keep up with those in the front [office].

The people (our bosses, colleagues, spouses, friends, children) who are on the outside looking in may marvel at the amount we do and the speed at which we get things done.  They may even try to mirror us.

Yet, as marathon “roadrunners” or spinning “hamsters on our wheels,” we often render others in our lives dizzy, dismissed, deserted. The fast world still harbors some   friends and family who wish for, deserve, need a little more time with us – time we may secretly wish or need for ourselves.

It seems to me that the eve of the holiday season is a perfect time to take leave of one’s office but do so with a new cadence, fresh work-life walls to replace office ones, renewed effort at savoring instead of sweating.

And…as we walk and breathe (instead of race and pant) down the corridor, we need to be aware.  People — the aforementioned colleagues, bosses, spouses, friends, children — who witness our new behavior in wonder or with surprise will now successfully be able to reach out and grab hold of us.  We won’t have a choice then, but to stand steadily and return their embrace.