I first notice the contrast in light – dark blue mountains in the background as the storm clouds grumble away – slapped into retreat by strong western sunlight. And the lake is a blue expanse mirroring the mountains. The foreground is bathed in the textured gold of a dry autumn meadow.
It’s the contrasts that draw me in. The light in that place would never be so vivid without the deep dark blue trying to swallow it whole. Without the sunlit gold, that shade of blue would turn muted gray. I know this. For years in intermittent seasons I have watched the mountain moods shift multiple times in a day…the soft light of dawn, the dry shimmering mirage of afternoon, the eerie light of a snowy sunset. The more the contrast, the more I am riveted, and the deeper the beauty.
The costs of unawareness…..
My mother lived here in this amazing place for over 30 years. But I doubt she experienced it as I do. She was caught in the small confining daily cycles of her attention: laundry, cooking, caring first for my father, and then, the cat. She focused on what she could control. I can’t help feeling that what was known to her was a diminished place compared to mine.
What are we missing?
So I wonder – what information am I missing in my workplace because I am too busy focusing on the known, the To-Do list, the small cycles of what I can control? How is my experience, my outlook and my ultimate value in a situation compromised because I fail to see the farther horizons, the unique shadows, the intriguing contrasts, the “weather” in my workplace?
If you’ve read this far, you know that company culture matters. But are you tuning in to the truth of where you work? Are you familiar with the vision and values of your company – and if they play out in real time? Is your workplace intentional about creating opportunities for authentic exchange of ideas? Do employees feel comfortable getting “off the surface” with each other? Are you convinced that people are bringing the best of who they are to work each day? If “yes’ to the above, please bottle your magic elixir and share with the world! Like Sterling K. Brown (of television’s “This Is Us”) writes in Entrepreneur’s Diversity & Inclusion column “When there is a well-functioning collaboration, where everyone is listening and willing to proceed to the best idea in the room, the potential to create something truly collaborative and inclusive is extraordinary”. For now, the rest of us can start with…
A Few Simple Suggestions….
Create a Ritual: Start something that illustrates a company value. For example, if inclusion and diversity are part of your stated vision, make sure meetings begin with an experiential activity that gets everyone engaged; a challenge, question of the day, something succinct, surprising and even fun to spark participation. For more ideas, check out this latest from inc.com. (And I just listened to this on Eariously; Articles on Audio!)
Bring Back the Lunch & Learn: Encourage employees to share something that they are working on that may be silo’ed and unfamiliar to other employees. Challenge them to share in a short, visual and/or active presentation to bring the material to life.
Brainstorm of the Week: Post a Question/Problem/Situation in a large succinct statement on an unoccupied desk with a computer or even an old typewriter handy. Encourage everyone to contribute, even anonymously, thoughts, ideas, off-the-wall suggestions. Post them at week’s end and see what sticks!
Because, for so many workers, our employment experience largely involves putting out the fires right in front of us, it’s challenging to tap into the deeper meaning of our jobs. Simple rituals and activities, done consistently over time, are even more necessary because they are outside our short term concerns.
Broaden your Reach
I’d love to hear about what you are doing to bring values and vision more actively into your working environment, as a way to better read the “weather” in your workplace! And I’d be happy to introduce you to Shift/POV, the facilitation tool I have developed for groups grappling with conflict and change, as a possible tool for activating your company values.