One Note

This past Friday, my wife and I were fortunate to take in the season finale of the phenomenal Cincinnati Pops Orchestra !! Not only was it the 10th anniversary of their acclaimed conductor, John Morris Russell, but a favorite group of mine was a featured guest – Over the Rhine. If you’re ever in Cincinnati, I highly recommend seeing the Pops perform while enjoying the majesty of Music Hall.

As a self-avowed music freak, I couldn’t contain myself. I was going to get to see live music once again, and it was a night out with my wife. The program was full of current hits, older standards, and great accompaniment with the guest musicians. It was easy to get lost in each piece as the orchestra played. You could fully take in all of the moving melodies and harmonies as the music wafted out over the audience. It was challenging to see which section would take the lead and the conductor led each section with ease. It was both enthralling and surprising at the same time.

You may not know this about me, but I’m easily moved by most things. I can be brought to tears at the drop of a heartfelt story or a well-played musical piece. Heck, I’ve even welled up during a TV commercial !! I am cool with this emotional response and feel it’s something that defines me.

Well, during the night at the Pops, I was teary several times. It was glorious !! I wasn’t thinking about those seated around me or embarrassed in the least. My wife knows what’s coming any time we’re out. The first song of the second half of the concert was the debut of a piece written by the conductor’s friend who had been working on it for 10 years. It was his interpretation of the well-known Prelude in C Major by Bach.

The hall was silent when the harpist started plucking out the familiar arpeggio and I could feel my chest start to swell. It was as if I was witnessing this on my own with no one else around me. When the full orchestra came in, the violins played one prolonged note for several measures, and the tears started rolling down my cheeks.

One note. Just one and my emotions burst forth.

After the amazing night, I reflected on that moment. How incredible was it that one note could bring so many joyous emotions to the surface? Seriously. One. Note.

When we look at the privilege of working with other people we tend to focus on what isn’t accomplished or how someone approached us in a way that frustrated us. If you listen to the conversations happening in the halls, or online, you get barraged with negative comments about others. They dominate how we talk about the people we allegedly value. The “talent” of our organizations must be full of more shortcomings than real skills.

I know this isn’t the case. We rely on others, and we should. So, instead of talking about what people “don’t do,” what if we helped find their one note? What if we found the one thing that unlocked their passion and helped their emotions flow out of them freely and positively? I think our workplaces would be overflowing with employees who couldn’t wait to contribute and excel if we found their one note.

This week, change your approach and your conversations. Don’t allow people to keep talking about others through a negative lens. Take up your instrument and start playing. Soon you’ll see people connect and respond. Trust me. It will bring tears to your eyes.

To give you a nudge, here’s some Bach . . .

Pulling Threads

I’m a proud child of the 70’s !! I grew up in the time of bell-bottom jeans, paisley shirts and long hair. Clothes covered in multiple patterns were the norm. It didn’t seem out of place at all because that’s what you saw most people wearing. One of our favorite things to do was to let our jeans and shorts (because they were denim too) fray. The more loose threads the better. You didn’t want to be seen wearing anything that looked prim and proper.

You never cut the loose threads or tears in your pants to add more. You just let them naturally unfurl and give more “style” to your wardrobe. Ironically, some 50 years later people pay to purchase jeans and shorts that looked just like I wore, but the price is much higher to be stylish today.

I enjoyed the loose threads of my youth, but I’m a bit concerned about the ones I come across now in the workplace. This isn’t about clothing. It’s about people pulling on any loose thread they can throughout the workday. It seems that conversations that are occurring consist more as a bundle of individual threads which have no consistency. Each interaction seems to stand on its own with seemingly no logical connection . . . except for one.

The connection belongs to the person(s) who pulled the thread in the first place. If they feel that resolution is made on their singular item, then all is good for them and with everyone else. That just isn’t the case. It’s good that they were able to bring some closure to their item, but that singularity lacks context. It would be amazing if the singular encounters lead to some level of continuity. However, most of the threads remain threads.

Trying to be productive and get work accomplished through an endless ball of loose threads is exhausting. You can’t keep up with one situation before someone comes to you with another one that is completely unrelated. Another factor that compounds this approach is that people have little tolerance for situations if the thread is not theirs. They seek only to have the item which is in front of them addressed.

When this approach is prevalent in organizations, the workplace, and the culture slowly unravel. It’s unfortunately what we spend the majority of our time on during each day. Thread after thread slowly pulled creating more snags and obstacles. People don’t see it either. They’re trying to do their jobs. They aren’t trying to be malicious or difficult. With this reality we find ourselves wandering down a series of paths that may cross every once in a while but not often enough.

As leaders in HR, we need to be those who listen to the separate threads and pull out our needles to sew them back together. Instead of allowing disparate and disconnected conversations to continue to build, we need to show how together they make an incredible fabric. A fabric that soon turns into a stylish piece of clothing that can be worn and exhibited to one and all. Someone needs to step in to be the tailor.

You see, tailors don’t see threads. They see what can become of the threads. They know when everything gets pulled together over time an amazing garment appears. We all want to be in a workplace that is effective, connected and moving in generally the same direction. Without tailors, you will only have a bundle of separate threads.

This week refuse to keep chasing the fraying actions that have been consuming so much of your time. Instead, pull out your needle, grab some threads and start sewing. You’ll soon see how effective this approach is for you, your leadership and your employees.

Let Love Rule

I’ve mentioned in the past that I’m a self-avowed HR Hippie. I dig the vibe, approach and general sentiment of seeking balance in all areas of life. That includes physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Before you read further, please know this isn’t a New Age post. I’m just sharing a viewpoint from my perspective that I’ve seen work over and over.

Just when we think that the world is coming to its senses, we find it pulling itself apart once again. Like most, I’m very concerned with all that is unfolding on the world stage. It’s a bit daunting because I’m sitting on my laptop thousands of miles away while others are wondering about their basic safety. To try and position anything of note during this time seems incongruent and frivolous. However, life continues to move in and around us while the conflict advances.

I feel that we’re in a time when we could reach out to each other intentionally instead of following the feeling that the fabric of society continues to unravel. It may seem like we’re in a loop of self-destruction everywhere we turn. I don’t want to succumb to that myself, and I don’t want to see those around me breaking down either. In the end, we can take action in a measured and effective way.

We can choose to love others regardless of how they treat us. You may feel that’s naive and Utopian, but as I mentioned before, it works. The difference is that I’ve seen it work when you stop to notice the individual in front of you. Mass efforts may bring a swell of great intentions, but they’re not sustainable. Most people also don’t have the capacity to effectively continue with a large number of relationships. This shouldn’t dissuade you though from approaching others from a loving vantage point.

I can hear the detractors screaming that we can’t say, or show, that we love our employees at work. It’s out-of-bounds or unwanted. People only desire a professional, arms-length relationship with their employer. It’s bad HR and bad practice in general to express love for others in the workplace.

I disagree.

Today, more than any time that I can recall, people are looking for ways to anchor and belong. That is true personally and professionally. This is much deeper than “engagement.” Every day in my role, I spend the vast majority of my time intentionally one-on-one with people. I know firsthand that this matters to their wellbeing, their balance, and how they will most likely approach others. It doesn’t matter if I’m spending time with fellow executives or people on the front line. They want to be seen, heard, valued and understood. They want to share their thoughts, opinions, joys and concerns.

Therefore, I choose to love them so that all of those actions can happen openly and without any sense of fear or hesitation. Please don’t misconstrue this as something that is flowery and squishy. Just the opposite. It is very intentional, respectful and direct. When people know that you are seeking them out and paying attention to them, you are going to be more successful than not in helping them feel safe, perform and thrive.

I may not be able to change the world stage, and I ache for those who are facing situations and an environment that is potentially life-threatening. I can, however, chip away and show a different way one person at a time. I can choose to let love rule.

HR Improv !!

A few weeks ago, my wife and I were able to get out on the town and catch a live show. It was magnificent !! To be able to get to see live entertainment would have been wonderful enough, but on top of that we were able to laugh for almost two straight hours. We went to see a comedy improv show featuring two of the regular cast members of the show Whose Line is it Anyway? – Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood.

If you’re not familiar with the TV show, it’s all improv comedy. They come to the stage with some general ideas of the scenes they are going to play, but they rely on the audience for suggestions and clues to character and direction. They have incredible skill because even the most outrageous suggestions are easily woven into their work without missing a beat. It’s a wonderful art form. I sat in the audience completely captured by every moment, shift and adaptation with what seemed to be absolutely incongruent fragments of ideas as they all came together.

Of course, it reminded me of HR !! I don’t know if we get to have nearly as much laughter as I did at the show, but every day we’re faced with the unknown. To me, this is what makes the profession so wonderful and attractive. Not knowing what will come next is invigorating. It really is. In fact, because we get the privilege of working with people, our days can’t be predictable. That’s because each person is unique and sees things through a lens that is linked specifically to them.

Ironically, we complain about this. We want to have everyone be the same. We long for the same behaviors, the same reactions and that everyone would just “stay in line.” We believe the myth that if this is how working with people was, then HR would be much easier. However, it would also be dull and lifeless.

We were meant to be improv artists in HR !! Think of it. Each day you’re given just a few snippets of a situation and then you have to assess, create and act to make everything “come together.” Isn’t that fantastic ??!! When you do this, you’ll see that you have an innate ability to work with each person for who they are instead of trying to make them conform to a listless script.

So, this week instead of trying to make everything fit into a predictable pattern that can’t truly exist, step into your reality and get ready to improvise. It’s far more natural and even – entertaining !!

This Year . . .

2022. It’s a New Year and I have to be honest, I’m looking forward to what lies ahead. You see, when this post goes live, I’ll actually be a year older myself. It’s one of the things I’ve learned to accept in having a birthday so close to the holiday season. I used to be bothered by its proximity to the festivities, but now it just marks time.

I don’t mind getting older. Sure, I have more aches, pains, and creaks than when I was younger. That isn’t as enjoyable, but it’s expected. I’m inching ever so closely to have been on this planet for six decades (I’m within 2 years) which is astounding to me. This is fairly significant for my dad’s side of the family because we haven’t had a ton of “older” people. I hope I’m fortunate to break that cycle and set a new standard.

It’s intriguing to me to listen to others I work with, interact with, and observe. The uncertainty that gripped the world over two years ago is still as present as ever. The lack of patience, grace, and willingness to hear differing opinions still get more attention than those who regularly are practicing these behaviors. I’m not discouraged by this because I feel the positive side of people will always win out. It may just take some time and diligence.

I’ve never been a person who makes lists, resolutions or goals. I know that works for many and admire people who can create and follow these methods. I haven’t followed these approaches because I get caught up in interactions with others. I want to take each one in and cherish them. That sounds Utopian, but it’s true. Not every conversation goes well and there are times of conflict just as much as there are times of collaboration. That doesn’t concern me. Every conversation has the opportunity to be full, rich and interesting. I can’t get enough of them.

Interestingly enough, one of my dear friends, Garry Turner, caught my attention when people were wishing each other a Happy New Year. His message stood out to me in the midst of several folks sending warm sentiments. He wanted to wish me a year that would be “impactful.” That stuck with me and gave me the impetus I needed to look forward going into 2022.

Choosing to make an impact has a deep meaning for me. You see, you make an impact of some sort with every exchange you have with other folks. Those times can either be positive or negative. There’s no guarantee as to the outcome. However, you personally can take steps to hopefully have a positive result in your demeanor, tone and intentionality.

Having the knowledge that you can move behavior in a constructive way is being impactful. Valuing the other person’s time, opinion and circumstances are also factors in how successful you can be. You can’t predict or control how others will respond or how they’re entering the interaction. However, you have all of the control as to the direction conversations can take.

It’s not possible to know all that will come throughout this new year, and I’m good with that. Regardless of that, I’m going to be more mindful of making a positive impact on those I connect with. I may miss the mark at times, but I want those to be an exception. I hope you’ll join me so that this coming year is filled with impactful encounters. The more we have positive interactions, the more uncertainty that we have been moving through will begin to dissipate. Let’s go make an impact !!

Clear the Fog !!

Last week I was getting ready for work like I normally do. After having breakfast, I loaded up my laptop and jumped into my car to head to my office. I’ve been working in person (safely) for the majority of the pandemic.

(Quick aside – I am fortunate to work for a regional pizzeria company and I made the decision to be in person because our amazing Team Members have been in person every day. I wanted to make sure to support them. Now back to the post . . .)

I turned on my favorite morning radio show and 45 minutes later I pulled into the parking lot. There was nothing notable about my commute. But, that was the problem. I didn’t recall a single moment of the commute. No recollection of whether the traffic was heavy or not. No idea if someone cut me off or if I drove too close to someone myself. I don’t recall the weather or what was playing on the morning show. The only thing I remember is parking my car and heading into my office.

That’s not good. It was as if I was in some fog that clouded every facet of my morning. When I arrived at work, I couldn’t say I was “prepared” for the day at all. I was unconsciously going through the same pattern I had become accustomed to. Later that day, I felt like I was lost and the fog kept infringing on all that was going on.

Sound familiar? I don’t think I’m alone in this at all. I understand that people head to their jobs because they’re used to the patterns that define how they face their day. This is true whether you’re working in person or remotely. What are you missing when you’re mind is covered in fog? The truth is, you’re not sure.

The whole experience was unnerving and I was shaken about it when I headed out to lunch. I don’t want to be a person who goes through the motions of work, has convenient conversations, plods through project work, and then heads back home feeling I’ve had a “day.” Not a full day. Not a day that seemed to slip away, but a “day.”

I was determined to clear the fog that had so easily encapsulated my mind the very next day. I’m sure there are a myriad of methods and approaches that people postulate to clear one’s head. I’m also sure that following prescriptive steps works for some. I’m not that person. I knew I needed to break my pattern and I kept it simple. Before jumping into my car in the garage, I walked outside and looked around. I slowed down to take some deep breaths and listened to the birds chirping in the trees. The brisk winter breeze slapped at my cheeks and even brought some tears to my eyes.

I felt more centered and aware of my surroundings. I then committed to stay aware of all that I saw and heard. When I did this, it seemed like color entered my line of sight once again. I saw things that had been there for some time as if they were brand new. I enjoyed everything as I took them in. The fog dissipated right away. I felt more energized and eager to take on the day. I no longer felt trapped in a haze. The day was enjoyable right off the bat.

I was able to consider the items and situations I was going to face. I looked forward to interacting with everyone once again and I felt renewed. I know that I need to be intentional in taking steps like this so that brain fog doesn’t creep back in and fill my head. I’m sure that I could fall back into the mists very easily if I don’t stay on top of this.

I wanted to share this story because I have a feeling that there may be others around you who struggle with brain fog themselves. You may be the nudge that breaks through for someone else. They may not realize they are meandering themselves.

There is too much to life to be covered in layers of fog. Take the steps that work for you to make sure your mind stays clear and sharp, and be alert that you may be able to help others as well. Let’s clear a path so we can take in all that is ahead !!

The Best Day !!

This weekend my wife and I took a day to have an adventure. We’re trying to make sure to get out and try new things and see new places. We went to the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky. We had perfect weather and arrived just as the gates opened. I personally was geeked because I grew up next to a horse farm and always enjoy anything I can do to get to farm-related events.

We made our way to one of the barns to see the horses being groomed. The stalls were filled with magnificent draft horses. After a show featuring some horses that were racing champions, we made our way to the Parade of Breeds. As we took our seats on some metal stands a young boy crawled up behind us and sat on his mother’s lap so he could see. He was fascinated by every, single horse that entered the arena. One horse was covered in a full costume as if he was in a medieval joust and his rider was costumed as well. The young boy squealed with delight and exclaimed that for Halloween he wanted to have a horse that wore a costume and he would wear one too !! His mom was so encouraging and told him that would be great.

After the show, we grabbed a wonderful lunch of loaded nachos. As we were starting to eat, the same young boy came strolling by with his family. He saw what we were eating and he shouted, “They have walking tacos ?? THIS IS THE BEST DAY !!!

His exuberance was heartfelt and palpable. He couldn’t contain himself. One quick note. He was the only child in a large group of adults and it didn’t phase him in the least. Every activity he participated in brought him unadulterated joy. I was taken by his response and it made me wonder.

Do I have “best days?”

I am a consistently positive person for the most part. I get frustrated at times and even angry. It happens more than I’d like to admit. As I reflect while writing this, most of the things that detract from being positive are minor and self-focused. For instance, I could get ticked that someone cuts me off on the road during my commute. Instead of thinking that the others around me are on a commute as well, my blood pressure rises. When someone is critical of my work, I want to step back and breathe, but that usually occurs after my emotions take hold first.

I’m sure you could come up with examples just like these and more. It doesn’t help that the majority of people you encounter throughout the day look at what’s wrong with the day first. On top of that, we are surrounded by news, social media and conversations that spend more time tearing down than building up.

I refuse to follow that trend. I want to be like the young boy taking in life as an endless picture of wonderment. I don’t think this is unrealistic or naive. I don’t want this to be something that is aspirational. I want it to be seen in my behavior and my interactions with others. In fact, I would love to see more people join me in this endeavor.

This is something that I will strive for personally and would also challenge those in HR to adopt it as well. Think what our profession and our workplaces would look like if every day was a “best day.” First of all, people would be stunned. How cool would that be? We could set our companies on edge by having a genuinely positive outlook. Seems radical doesn’t it? Secondly, how amazing would someone else’s day be if they saw you having a best day?

This calls for us to take in life and all that it offers and see the joy and opportunity in front of us instead of falling into the trap of negativity and sullenness. This also requires us to be others-focused and have faith that things will go well for them and for us as we work together.

The young boy probably didn’t realize how refreshing and countercultural he was this weekend. I’m grateful that we crossed paths and that I was reminded of how to have a best day every day !!

Do Some Pruning !!

Last weekend I had a chance to head back to my hometown to visit with my mom. My wife and I always love traveling to Ada, Ohio because it’s honestly like stepping into a Hallmark movie. A small, midwestern town with a dedicated Main Street. It’s incorporated as a village because it’s not big enough to warrant other titles.

We went up not only to visit but to take in the 4th of July festivities !! My hometown hadn’t had fireworks for over 50 years and we got to experience this coming back. Even better, we watched them with our extended family in my cousin’s backyard. So very cool. We also heard the Lima Symphony Orchestra play an outdoor concert and it was spectacular to hear live music once again.

Those two things would have made the visit complete. However, I always make sure to see if there’s anything I can do for my mom around the house. It’s cathartic to be able to help her out and take care of some chores that she shouldn’t do as much anymore. She’s still very vibrant, active and engaged at 82 years young, but I don’t want her getting up and down ladders or doing more physical things when I can help. After cleaning the gutters, I went to the bigger task of the day – pruning.

My parents have always had great landscaping and curb appeal around their ranch-style house. So, we weren’t trying to work our way through a jungle of various plants. We were going to shape and prune some things to give them more definition and get them off the house and the siding. Also, cutting plants back allowed the sun and rain to reach smaller plants that surrounded the ones getting attention.

As I went to work with some electric shears on the first shrubbery, I noticed some overgrowth at the base of the plant that was honestly taking away nutrients from the main core of the bush. That needed to be pruned by hand. This is much slower, concentrated and meticulous. I had to crawl on the ground and reach up into the middle of various branches which poked and prodded every movement. After several well-placed cuts, the bush looked less frazzled and frayed. You could see the base of the beautiful shrub and it now was a focal point of the front corner of the house.

I continued working my way around the house with the hand pruners at the ready to give each plant some love and attention. It was wonderful to have some quiet time to myself and concentrate. As I was clipping and trimming, I began to see how the work I was doing was essential for the plant to thrive. Of course, it made me think of how this same action could be utilized in the workplace.

Pruning isn’t natural at work. We are far more focused on innovation, creativity and production. All movements are geared toward making more and more and more. It’s how we measure performance and how we reward and compensate people. We don’t feel we have time to ever step back and pause. It isn’t true, but we tell ourselves it is. With this incessant pace to always press ahead, work becomes misshapen, fragmented and unruly. We can’t keep up with all of the separate areas of growth. We need to be pruned!!

All of the benefits that I gave to my mom’s plants are true with work and people. If we cut back on some activities, then people can grow from their core and their strengths. If we untangle the things that pull at our base and foundation, then our people can stand firm and assured in what they do. Also, if we pull things back in line, we may see other people who have been overshadowed and need some light and nourishment themselves.

As HR pros, we would benefit our organization if we were those who recognized and made sure pruning happens. I’m not talking about reducing the size of your workforce. I’m talking about being the gardeners who see when things need more attention, care and some clipping. Doing this helps those that lead people to see the need for ALWAYS being mindful of their people.

This week get the pruners out and move around the office to see where your handiwork may reshape people in order for them to blossom, thrive and grow with purpose !!

Be the Reason !!

Can you feel the change in the air? Spring is upon us and that’s exciting. With the change in seasons, there’s a renewed hope with everything budding and breaking through the ground. I can’t help but sense the energy around me lifting. I hope you sense it as well.

The question is, what will you do with it? Will you embrace the influx of newness or will you look past it? Instead of embracing the bright colors emerging everywhere, you keep your head down and remain focused on what you think truly matters. All of this stepping back and being reflective is seen as a waste of time and not productive. Each moment that isn’t consumed with work, completing tasks and taking on more is unacceptable. How can you even afford to step away from the multiple drivers that pull you in numerous ways?

It’s easy to follow the inner voices which tell you to overlook all that is going on around you. We believe if we pause, then something “critical” surely won’t get done. It’s not true. It never has been. Even though we know that we have more than enough time available daily, we act as if we don’t. When we refuse to slow down for even a moment, we miss the most important thing in the world – the people around us.

Just this weekend I was at church grabbing a cup of coffee, and as I was taking a sip, a friend noted, “Hi there !! It’s great to see your face again.” You see, we’ve been behind masks for over a year, and I had forgotten the reality that we only see half of our faces. The best attribute each one of us has doesn’t get seen nearly as much as it had in the past – our smile.

My friend got to see a brief glimpse of mine between sips and it reminded me how easy it is to overlook the simple things. By taking a moment to notice me, she made me smile. She was able to capture the energy that is all around us. We have been longing to recapture the spark that pulls us together and binds us as humans for over a year. I understand that we see each other’s faces, but the majority of that happens virtually. It isn’t the same as seeing each other in person.

We have a great opportunity staring at us if we choose to embrace it. What would your day look like if you were the reason to make them smile? What simple act could you do to make a genuine connection and break them out of the malaise that threatens to swallow us? What would your life be like if you made this a regular practice and not just a response to get away from the experience we’ve all gone through?

People are aching to reconnect. People are struggling because of isolation and the lack of time to be with each other socially. It’s affecting our wellbeing and, unfortunately, it’s prevalent.

We should consistently be the reason someone smiles. I think we’ve lost the willingness, and the ability, to do this because we’ve remained in that trap of being focused on everything but people. It needs to change, and it needs to happen now.

We can make this our own personal Spring. Let’s come back to life. Let’s plant a seed of kindness and joy all the time. Will you join me?

Be the reason.

Don’t Be Sisyphus !!

How’s your new year shaping up? Is your plate full? Chances are it’s overflowing. I know this may be stating the obvious for most people. I’m not just referring to work either. Yes, work may take up the majority of your daily time, effort and attention. We need to remember that each person we encounter has their version of “life” going on. You may be addressing personal/family situations and struggles with spouses, partners, kids, or parents. You may be in between jobs now or you’d like to change your role/company if you had the chance. I’m not going to try and capture all that is in front of you. I’m just sure that you’re full (too full).

What’s interesting about being full at work is that we don’t view this positively. We complain. Incessantly. It’s true. So much of our daily routine includes bemoaning all that we have to do. On top of that, we complain about co-workers that are intertwined with our mountain of work. We exhale a gigantic sigh as if to get the attention of others so they can commiserate with us. Others follow this pattern and they grouse as well. For some reason, we find comfort in this mixing of conversations which look at all that is wrong with our day . . . because we’re full.

I remember a time when I went to a restaurant in downtown Cincinnati by myself (pre-COVID) to run an errand. It is a great, local Mexican place that I try to visit when I get the chance. I was by myself which is a rarity in itself. I ordered the daily special and found a table to sit in the middle of a full gathering who were “enjoying” their lunch break. Instead of scrolling through endless social media threads, I sat quietly and listened to the conversations of those around me. I know it’s a bit intrusive, but I curious to hear what others were talking about.

Every single conversation was negative. Every one. The people eating around me weren’t upset or animated. They were speaking at ease because this was, and is, normal for them – as it is for all of us. They were complaining about the work they had in front of them and the people that had to “deal” with in order to try and move forward. I’m sure there was a smattering of constructive input during the chats, but that was hard to assess. Since no one was phased by how the conversations occurred, I’m positive people went on with their day oblivious to the tone.

I understand that being full can be overwhelming, and it may even feel that we’re going to sink rather than swim. But, isn’t that a great position to be in? Seriously. When you are full, then, chances are, you’re either adding value or others are counting on you to come through because of your talent. So, we need to quit being Sisyphus !!

Illustration by Temujin Doran and Max Robinson

Who’s Sisyphus? He was a character in Greek mythology who was not a good king. His lifestyle of deceit and conniving angered the gods and he was given the task of rolling a massive stone up a hill with the hope that he’d clear the peak and the stone would roll down the other side. He would struggle and push against the boulder, but he could never clear the precipice. Oh, and he only has to push this immovable object up the hill . . . for eternity !! Sound familiar? THIS is how we sound when we talk about our work. We come off more like martyrs than contributors.

This needs to turn around and disappear. If we want to have people-centric organizations filled with performers, then we need to do all we can to destroy how work is talked about. And . . . it starts with us HR !! I understand that working with people can be daunting, challenging and even disheartening IF you view people as a problem first. Our mentality and mindset have to be reset. We must talk about how the work in front of us is an opportunity and not a burden. We must embrace the conversations we have with other employees as a chance to learn, hear new ideas and perspectives and work together collaboratively towards moving things forward.

I’m not a Pollyanna, but I am an optimist. I am grateful I am both full and overwhelmed with the good work I get to be a part of in my role. It’s very easy to go dark and complain. Very easy. I just choose not to. I plan to get that rock up over the hill so that I can see past the peak, go into the next valley and get the next boulder that is sure to be there.

If we would shift and become beacons of light as HR practitioners in our organizations, then others would see the great work they have in front of them positively as well. Organizations would thrive and cultures would improve. We’d actually have “best places to work” because you’d see people embrace their place as the talented people they already are. Be glad you’re full.