Interpersonal Edge: What is workplace enlightenment?
Sunday, February 7, 2016
By Dr. Daneen Skube
Tribune Content Agency
Q. I'm interested in emotional maturity, personal growth and enlightenment, but every day I just want to bite people at work. Isn't enlightenment some state you achieve where you sit around in nirvana all day? Am I hopeless because, since starting this path, I mostly see how angry I feel at people? You often cover topics that border on the spiritual. I'd be interested in your opinion about what the heck enlightenment for ordinary people is anyway?
  A. I don't believe enlightenment is achieving some state of permanent, undisturbed bliss. If the goal of all creation is to send us to earth just to achieve a state where we stop learning and growing, or go into a stagnant perfection ... what is the point?
  Enlightenment makes more sense if you think of it as an effort to live your work life and personal life from the eye of the hurricane. Storms rage around you, and you know that some storms will pull you away from the eye. If you can get up every day and make progress on dropping into the storm less frequently, and returning to the eye more easily, you're doing a stellar job! 
  I find it ironic that a concept that represents human freedom - enlightenment - has come to represent a human imprisonment of perfection. What if we lowered the bar on the lofty ideal of enlightenment? What if the path is as simple as paying attention to what you feel when a coworker steals your stapler?  
  For some people, the idea that there is a doorway of freedom available to absolutely every person - and there is no one so lowly that he or she does not deserve peace - may seem upsetting.
  We joke about Monday mornings being the worst time of the week and Friday being the best. Indeed, more heart attacks happen on Monday mornings than any other time of the week. If we show up at work and all we expect is suffering, boredom and battles, then no wonder our hearts give out.
  If enlightenment is about finding a permanent home within ourselves where we are loved, safe and supported, no matter how bad our circumstances, that seems like an excellent idea! The living translation of the American Bible promises, "Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand." If the idea of God upsets you, then substitute some other thing that might care for you.
  Perhaps the peace that understands anything that we can understand is about spending more time in the eye of the hurricane. Imagine you have the ability to be calm when you get fired, when a customer yells at you and when you're having your annual review. 
  If we can stop getting huffy about our opinions about freedom, perhaps we would be free to find the eye of calm within ourselves. If a coworker is still devoted to the storm, let them rage about their opinions. Let them express their need to be right about enlightenment, God and politics, and let them tell you about how wrong you are. They can be right and miserable and you can be enjoying an umbrella drink in the calm, watching all the drama around you. 
 The last word(s)
  Q. I'm teaching several new employees as the New Year starts. Man, people are stupid! I'm attempting to find the patience to point out just how much these new people don't know. Is there a way I can make the training process easier on me?
  A. Yes, help your new employees with the hardest part of training. Before training emphasize that they will repeatedly experience feeling stupid and that feeling inadequate is the price of competency.
Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker, also appears as the FOX Channel's "Workplace Guru" each Monday morning. She's the author of "Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything" (Hay House, 2006). You can contact Dr. Skube at or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027. Sorry, no personal replies.
This article was printed in the February 7, 2106 - February 20, 2016 edition.

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