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February 08, 2006

Work for passion or passion for work?

Srinivas started the session by sharing his thoughts on FISH, the book he had read recently. He recognized that his energy level at work is really not good and wondered what it would take to have the energy of the people who work at the Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle featured in the book. The organization culture he is used to seemed to tell him that if you are having fun, you are really not working because work and fun don�t go together. He said that a small rebel culture should be present in every organization that challenges the definition of a �good� employee.

Vani said that she has been reading the book Gandhi the Man and is fascinated by how he did what he did by working on small, everyday things

Nisha said that many of the status meetings she attends in her office lasts for 5 to 10 minutes and the rest of the hour is spent on eating cookies and informal chatting. That hour, she said, energizes people. The time and space available for fun creates interest and energy in people to get more involved at work. It has a lot of influence on people to the extent that it even defines people�s official identity (I work with a cool team, I am cool). Recently she had to change team and she said it is then she recognized the apprehension in her of not wanting to let go of the fun culture of her previous team and wondering whether the new team will have space for fun.

I said that I have come to some clarity recently about what is really important in my life. And this has helped me in finally getting around to creating a personal web site that truly represents who I am. For quite some time, I have been convinced that any change in the world begins with oneself. But this conviction had not helped me much to change myself. One day I narrowed down the area in myself where I�d begin to change: my habits. This helped me to see the connection between my habits and how they play a big role in creating my limitations. So I created a blog, �Changing he world, one habit at a time�. Having made my personal commitment public, the thought of changes in me changing the world energizes me a lot.

Dinesh said that he was talking to his daughter who asked him how could she find work that is aligned with her passion. After telling her that he himself has been struggling with it for long, something gave in. He said that he decided to jump in full time into the work he really loved � to help create global leaders by helping leaders learn to develop a �global citizen� mindset.

Vani said that she had been thinking of the same thing (to find work that she is passionate about) and hence she quit her cushy job at Oracle and is exploring opportunities.

At this point, we recognized that we are talking about two different approaches to bring energy to our work: 1) create conditions in one�s current environment that helps energize oneself 2) find another environment that already has energizing qualities.

That is, find ways to love your work or find work that you can love. Create passion for your work or find work that you are passionate about.

At this point, Dinesh said that one of the mantras that helps him deal with any either/or situation is Neti, Neti (not that, not that). Or in this context, the anti-dote for an either/or situation is a neither/nor attitude.

Once we come with that attitude, we could start seeing more than the apparent duality in front of us. The attitude opens many options: combine the dual choices to create a new approach, look beyond the duality for something that is higher in that domain, add more elements to the duality and make it a plurality�

The last one, making plurality is what nature does, said Nisha. Nature never creates just two options for anything. Which is why we have an astonishing variety of species and natural systems that work with one another and evolve new solutions.

Vani said that the way she wants to deal with duality is by reminding herself that all our needs are illusory and whatever we need, we already have it. She shared a story that illustrates this:

Once a poor man approached a rich man sitting in his car and asked for money. The rich man asks, �Is money that thing you really need?� When the poor man says yes, the rich man says, �In that case, here is some money but you are not allowed to spend it.� Surprised, the poor man says, �Sir, you do not understand. I need to money to buy myself food, clothing and shelter.� The rich man then asks, �Are food, clothing and shelter the things you really need?� The poor man nods vigorously and agrees. The rich man says, �Alright, you can buy those things, but you are not allowed to eat the food, wear the cloth or stay in a shelter.� The poor man gets really confused. He then thinks hard and says, �What I really want are peace and satisfaction.� That, says the rich man, you can find in yourself right now. Begin from there and you will get all you need.

At the time of writing this note, I thought of the following:

Everyone ultimately wants peace and satisfaction. When people see that someone is peaceful and satisfied in spite of any external condition, they are attracted towards that person because they want to know how. This is a new definition of �haves and have-nots�. If the materialistic world we live in is characterized by the exploitation of the have-nots by the haves, then the spiritual world is characterized by the compassionate giving of the haves to the have-nots. The transactions in the materialistic world are focused on creating profits for individuals by unequal exchange and distribution of materialistic values. The transactions in the spiritual world are focused on creating benefits for everyone by more-than-equal contributions of spiritual gifts. This creates the conditions for people to come from peace and satisfaction and hence engender more peace and satisfaction. All materialistic transactions that happen from such a space will be aligned with the laws of nature favoring balance and sustainability.

Back to the session. After Vani shared that story, I said that while coming from peace and satisfaction is very powerful, one should also be acutely aware of ones current capacity to hold such an attitude. Otherwise we will live in the illusion that all is fine until we face a challenge. We should develop the capacity to hold such an attitude by becoming aware of and accepting our current limits and constantly working on them all the time. If we wait for a challenge to test our capacity to come from peace and satisfaction, it would make the situation worse.

While we can look at enlightened people (who are at peace all the time) for inspiration, we cannot pretend that we too can be at peace just by willing it. Willing is an important first step. But there are many other steps not as in progressive steps in time and space but as in repeated renewal of every thought and action to serve and create a higher attitude in the here and now.

Posted by Ragu at February 8, 2006 12:19 PM