Where Happiness (at Work) Comes From

A few weeks back I lopped a few feet off the hedges in the back yard. I’m always amazed about how quickly they grow back. Of course, I trampled several of my wife’s strawberry plants in the process. Unintentional yes, but still a loss that I heard about and have to live with.

In the present economy, it’s obvious that others have stepped on some strawberry’s too. The pruning is hard for those cut and those who weren’t. The bar’s been raised everywhere for everyone. So not only is there a pruning but the hedges have to grow better and truer than they have (that adds Mendel to the mix).

The paradox of being an inspirational leader means that you get to lead and inspire and pour your heart and soul into what you do and that you have to able to turn on a dime from inspiring someone in two and a half minutes to making hard cuts that effect folks lives. And then because you are so personal and passionate, folks react and respond to everything you do and don’t do with similar passion and verve.

A friend asks, “All these years, I felt I was making a difference, was it all just my EGO?”
Anthony Demello has a story that may help here.

An older and younger monk went on a journey. They came to a small river where a beautiful woman stood. The older monk asked her if she needed help. She told him that she needed to get to the other side of the river but couldn’t swim. The monk said, “I can help you.” He then carried her across the river. She thanked him and the monks continued their journey. As they walked the younger monk complained bitterly, “Do you realize the occasion of sin you put yourself in when you helped that woman? When folks hear about this at the monastery, oh my. The scandal will be terrible!” After listening for an hour, the older monk stopped, looked him in the eye and said, “Son, I left that woman on the bank an hour ago. Why are you still carrying her with you?”

That’s one of the hardest parts of this journey. Forgiving people. I think it’s important to forgive everyone. Another harder part? Forgiving your self.

I share those to encourage you to live from the good truths, the facts that you know about yourself. Not because a call is coming, from your boss or an unhappy customer calling in a complaint.

Maybe someone dropped the ball. Maybe life just happened. Our happiness has to come from a deeper place than what someone else says or does or promises to do. The call may yet come. It may not. If it does, maybe it will be a good call. Maybe it won’t. Either way, you are still you, at once glorious and deeply flawed. We all are. In our lives there will always be some who say, “God help us all.” There will always be others too who say, “Thank goodness.” Whether your branches grow stronger and truer is not for them to say. That’s yours alone.

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