You can enhance your zen at work
What does it mean to be zen at work? Well, it’s a perspective that is open to to possibilities, that looks for opportunities rather than dwelling in conflict, and that focuses internally as a means to achieve external success and happiness.
Here are five ways to bring a little more zen into your professional life.
Be Aware, and Own Your Behaviors
Self awareness and accountability are absolutely essentially. So many times when things aren’t going well at work, people look outside of themselves.
“My boss hates me.”
“My co-workers are incompetent.”
“My staff isn’t motivated enough.”
Even if all of those things are true, you are the only person responsible for your mindset and your actions. You can’t control other people, even if they report to you. Sure, maybe you can order them to do certain tasks, but you can’t order them to feel a certain way or think the way you want them to. However, you can be aware of the impact your actions have on them. For example, if you know your staff gets demotivated when you micromanage them, don’t micromanage them! Instead, seek to empower and support them in a way that is going to lift them up and bring out their best. That’s what it looks like to be aware of your approach and the impact of your actions on others, and applies whether you’re managing up, down, or sideways.
The only person you have control over is yourself. And even if things don’t go as planned and others don’t react in the way that you hope they would, you can be confident that you’ve done what you can and that you’ve made an effort.
This is why I’m so crazy about using DISC at work – it teaches you your work style, the work style of others, and how to adapt your approach to them in a highly accurate way. In other words, it takes gives you all the tools you need to take care of this step.
One final point – being zen doesn’t mean you always need to be nice. It certainly doesn’t mean you need to be a pushover. It simply means that you need to be present, fully engaged, own what you’re doing, and don’t allow fear or anxiety to get in your way. Most of the time, the end result will be that you are nice, but there are circumstances where standing up for yourself is absolutely the best thing you can do. Just be aware of what you’re doing, and the consequences of it.
Look Forward, Not Back
Dwelling on the past, whether recent or distant, rarely does anyone any good. You can’t change what’s happened, and most of the time you probably made the best decision you could have given the information you had available to you.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t learn lessons from the past – you absolutely should. Learning is different than dwelling. Figure out your key takeaways, internalize it, and do what you can to apply it the next time around. But don’t live in regret – there’s nothing you can do about it now and it’s important to keep moving forward.
This isn’t just about the decisions you’ve made at work – it’s also about your relationships with your co-workers. A lot of times I’ll get asked what to do if you “know someone has stabbed you in the back”, or some similar transgression. Without getting into the specifics of the situation, because each will be vastly different in the details, as long as the two of you remain in your jobs, the situation will linger until one of you puts a stop to it.
This is not about excusing their behavior. This is about about creating an environment that will bring out your best, set you up to accomplish your goals, and allow you to be happy. Sometimes, zen at work means letting go. Hanging onto conflict doesn’t punish the perpetrator. It only gets in your way.
Focus On Your Goals. Leave The Rest Behind.
When you want to enhance zen at work, it’s critical to have a sense of your goals. What are you trying to achieve? Build a good picture of it in your mind – What are you going to do? By when? Who else will be involved? How are you going to do it? What will the outcome be?
Know what you want. Make a list. Lay out your plans. That’s what’s going to make it real. It’s also going to help you focus – the worst enemy of achieving goals in any organization is the day-to-day nonsense.
So many things happen in any job that simply do not matter. It can be incredibly easy to let it drag you down and steal your focus away from the big picture. You’re never going to be able to please all of the people all of the time, and it is a futile effort to try. Do what you can to gain their buy-in, but at the end of the day you can’t let any remaining opposition get in your head and derail your efforts. You know what you’re trying to achieve. If you find yourself getting bogged down, just re-focus on your attention on that goal and the outcome of getting it done.
Bring the Beginner’s Mindset
Think about the way a beginner approaches a problem. Their mind is open, they’re excited to learn, and they don’t have preconceptions about what the correct solution is. They ask questions. They view things with a fresh set of eyes that aren’t clouded with the judgement of previous experience.
On the contrary, an expert “knows” the way things “should” be. They make assumptions based on their previous experience that may or may not prove to be accurate under current circumstances.
When you learn to detach, you will enhance your zen at work. There’s nothing wrong with having experience. The problem comes when you let that experience get the in the way of being open to new ideas and approaches. Some of the most seasoned experts bring a beginner’s mindset to the equation. It’s not about ignoring what has worked in the past. It’s about asking questions, admitting “I don’t know”, being open to learning new things, trying out new ideas, and adapting to current circumstances rather living in past successes.
Lift Other People Up
When I worked for an organization, I used to have a mantra written on a sticky note on my computer monitor. When I started working for myself, I quite literally wrote it with a Sharpie on the wall in my office. Here’s what it says:
Act with integrity.
Have compassion and empathy.
Be of service to others.
Here’s the thing: We’re all connected. Being of service to the people you work with means that their goals are your goals. Their obstacles are your obstacles. And their victories are your victories. When you perceive yourself as being in service to others, it fundamentally changes the way you approach the people you work with.
Think about that for a moment – what can you do to lift other people up, and help them meet their goals, without expecting anything in return? Though when you do this, you will get many returns from it, sometimes in ways that are truly unexpected.
Being of service doesn’t mean the you do whatever your co-workers want you to do, that you’re an order-taker or a pushover. Every time I start a coaching relationship with a new client, I say in the first five minutes of our first meeting “I am here to serve you, not to please you.” That might mean that I ask them tough questions, push them on their perspective, and tell them things I think they need to hear that will help them get where they want to go. Think about how to apply this same idea in your role..
Sometimes people will readily accept your help, and sometimes they won’t. And either way it’s OK – you can’t force people to take help they don’t want. Maybe they’ll come around on their own. But remember, this is not just for their benefit – you should only do this because it matters to you. Not that you want credit for it from others – that’s different. In fact, whether others approve of you or they don’t, it doesn’t matter. As long as you’re comfortable with yourself and your actions and your values and your efforts, all the rest is just noise.
Enhance your zen at work
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