It is probably safe to say that work has become a means to an end for many in our world today. Meaningful work is a hot commodity but increasingly difficult to come by. If you’ve ever seen the movie Office Space, although exaggerated in some respects, it does do a great job of portraying the tedious nature of the stereotypical workspace. As the character Peter Gibbons explains, an employee will do just enough work to keep from getting fired. Hardly an inspiring outlook for future employees to aspire to, but an all too common scenario. I’ll give you an example of this from my own work history in the food industry. It was in my second restaurant job I came in gung-ho ready to impress the boss and my more experienced co-workers. I did everything I could to please them. Came in early, stayed there late. When I finished my own tasks I helped others with theirs. Then one day I realized that others weren’t doing the same, and I was making less pay to clean up their mess. The better I got the more work was heaped upon me. I asked for a raise and my boss couldn’t oblige because the restaurant couldn’t afford to give me a dollar more an hour, but could give me a quarter more. That was the last straw. After that I would only concentrate on my own duties, and made sure I would start taking a little longer to finish my tasks. I did just enough to keep the boss off my butt. It wasn’t until years later I came to the conclusion it wasn’t necessarily what you do, but how you do it.
Making work more meaningful is not only possible it is very empowering, and becomes a great vehicle for positive changes in all aspects of your life. A great opportunity to connect with others and share your own presence with theirs. Instead of using people to get the job done and move on, you’ll find that collaboration is no longer a means to an end. You’ll recognize that every individual is integral, and what they have to share has value. A new sense of quality will enter every time conscious awareness becomes your primary purpose. And you’ll realize that this new way of being will reach beyond those walls of the office.
A great way to start this new path transforming work into presence is by asking an important question. Do I behave differently or change the way I speak in front of my boss compared to the way I behave or speak with co-workers? This is excellent for breaking patterns which have been keeping you from being authentic in the service of egoic professionalism. Are you playing a role, or rising to the challenges during your day? You may be more relaxed around your co-workers, but more tense around the supervisor. So next time this work situation pops up again, you can make it a priority to observe your speech patterns, and any rigidity you may feel in your body. Another way to bring more presence to your job might be to place reminders in the vicinity of your workspace. This may come in the form of affirmations written on post-it notes placed on your computer, desk and so on. Perhaps an object that has meaning to you could become a symbol of the now to snap you out of unconsciousness. At these moments you can take some time to practice breath awareness, or feeling the body to regulate any energetic imbalance. When someone is speaking to you practice not waiting to speak. Instead of waiting or thinking about your reply, bring awareness forward and actually listen to what the person is saying to you.
These are just a few of the ways to approach bringing more presence to your workday. You can practice any and all of these to make the living of ordinary life serve the purpose of awakening. Make it an enjoyable game by coming up with new ones. A great opportunity to be creative.