Shoes in the Lobby

5 min read

Take Care of Yourself

In speaking about the plight of women Michelle Obama, First Lady of the US, said, “We need to do a better job of putting ourselves higher on our own ‘to do’ list.” This is a philosophy which need not just apply to women, but to us all. We know that we need to take care of ourselves, but it never features on our ‘to do’ list. In practice, we view whatever it is that rests and refreshes us as a reward which we will deservedly enjoy once we have completed all our other tasks. But, as we know from bitter experience, the ‘to do’ list never comes to an end and we can easily fall into a routine of self-neglect. Perhaps we need to stop seeing the things we enjoy as simply a recompense for our hard work and see them more as the fuel on which the engines of our industrious selves need to run. A practical habit of inserting acts of self-care throughout our ‘to do’ lists – and not just adding them on at the end – helps us to prioritize our essential maintenance.

Take Care of Each Other

When we talk about taking care of each other our thoughts turn automatically to what we can do directly for others, such as helping them complete a task or attending a meeting on their behalf. These gestures are clearly important in creating a healthy working community, but perhaps there are more subtle ways in which we can take care of our colleagues too. Remembering people’s names and facts about their families or hobbies communicates care, as does taking time to listen. Looking at it in a fresh way, we can ask ourselves whether by doing what we usually do, are we – albeit inadvertently – not taking care of others. If you routinely take work home and send emails at unearthly hours are you, particularly if you are a leader, setting an unreasonable standard which others in your organization will – to their detriment – feel compelled to follow? And how do you let people take care of you? Modeling how to accept help is important and helps create a co-operative and resilient working community.

Take Care of Business

In the simple act of removing their shoes, the children at the US junior high school demonstrated a remarkable sense of the importance of taking care of their shared environment. They instinctively understood that their school community would be a more satisfying one to be part of if they looked after their place – the school building. Our shared places are our businesses and organizations, and we must endeavor to address their needs and consciously nurture their development. This should mean that we continually question how our actions will impact the business. Do our emails communicate genuine warmth and friendliness, which will draw people to us? Do we devote time during our meetings to develop relationships which will, in the long run, be strong enough to withstand bad times as well as good? Are the expenses we incur necessary and reasonable? Developing a culture of caring about the business begins with an individual and we must ask ourselves whether we are willing to be that individual. The outcome could be a satisfying and rewarding working community.

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