Category Archives: Featured Articles

The articles here are a sort of “best of” or the articles that best capture the flavor of what it means to live life as a practice.

The opposite of work is ….?

The opposite of work is ….?

If you said ‘play’ you’d be in the majority. And you’d be wrong.

Think of it.   The opposite of anything is another thing completely devoid of every quality of the first thing.

When I ask this question in my work engagement training sessions, I ask people what comes to mind when they think of play.  Invariably their responses include fun, laughter, and joy.

If you think that work is the exact opposite of play then it means that for you work is devoid of fun, laughter and joy.  That’s terrible; no wonder most people would prefer not to work.

Work as the opposite of play is an agreement.

Not the truth.  If you want to appreciate the power of agreement, take out your wallet and examine a $20 bill—any bill will do.money_euro_100_front 20 dollar bill

That bill only has power because we all agree that it has worth and can be exchanged.   That agreement is so widespread and historical that we hold it as a belief.  And we have that belief validated as true every day.  But we could break that agreement at any moment.

The same applies with beliefs about work.  In the conversations we have every day most of us are passing along our agreement with work as being unpleasant and something to be avoided.   Popular expressions like “Hump day” (Wednesday) and “TGIF” are signs of our war on work and a sign that Trinidad and Tobago is not unique in negative work attitudes.

The legacy of slavery

slaveryWorker exploitation through the centuries is probably the main contributor to work’s bad reputation.   Francis Wade, the Jamaican time management guru, convinced me that slavery is at the source of many negative work narratives.    If you think of slavery, work only benefited one group who seemingly did not work while forcing another group the slaves (workers) to do all the work … with no reward.

We live with this impact even today with many workers doing everything possible to get ‘payback’.  They avoid ‘work’ wherever possible (e.g taking every sick-day), steal from whomever represents ‘massa’, and wear the work scowl as uniform.industrial revolution labour

It’s not important to me whether slavery or industrial revolution sweatshops are the cause of our negative and destructive work attitudes. I only point to the prevailing negative attitudes to work, and if you answered that work is the opposite of play then you are a victim of the anti-work conspiracy—whatever it’s source.

Is eating the opposite of drinking?

steak and wineHolding work and play as opposites is like holding eating and drinking as opposites.  That’s absurd.  Both examples are essential to life.  Both examples can be good and both can be bad (yes you can play too much).

If you’ve ever met people who enjoy their work, or have had a rare experience of enjoying doing work then you know they don’t have to be opposites. Let the workplaces at Google, Facebook and Zappos challenge your idea of what going to work everyday can be like.

For some work does suck … but for most it need not

Granted some people’s circumstance may make it seem impossible to find joy at work—like the single non-educated mother struggling to make ends meet—there are many whose only excuse for hating work is a bad attitude.

To these people I say this. “If you do not enjoy your work that’s your choice.”   It is not the nature of work to be joyless, oppressive or even hard.  That only comes from working with and for people who are part of the anti-work conspiracy.

To be fair it’s not their fault. They are not bad or evil people. Somebody or something just needs to wake them up to the choice they’ve made about work. We spend half of our waking hours at work, why not ‘work’ to make it enjoyable or at least meaningful.

How you feel about work is your choice

If you hate your job you have two choices: transform your attitude to your workplace, or leave and find a workplace that let’s you have some autonomy and encourages you to grow.  Oh, actually there is a third option: you can continue complaining and playing the lottery as your success strategy.

Good luck with that.

Be very clear though, the opposite of work is not play.

The opposite of work is corruption, decay and death.

 

This article was first published in the Trinidad Newsday on Sunday Sept 7, 2014

Bring on the learning revolution

Bring on the learning revolution

How many people do you know that are truly passionate about what they do? Probably not many. I know I hadn’t met anyone truly passionate about their work until I was an adult, and when I did I remember being completely blown away by the very concept of being passionate about your work. So what’sContinue Reading

“Cast the first stone for you Sir?”

“Cast the first stone for you Sir?”

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can absolutely destroy me.” Apart from some groups Middle Eastern people, most of us don’t participate in physical stoning anymore, but before we congratulate ourselves too much, we should consider whether we participate in anything similar. I think we do. You see there’s another type ofContinue Reading

And the young shall lead the old

And the young shall lead the old

It used to be that seniority was the basis for advancement; ostensibly because age is expected to confer experience and wisdom. Unfortunately, an honest and sober reality check will reveal that there’s no guarantee that age and seniority equate to greater competence, knowledge or wisdom. Seniority cannot be the basis for advancement Promotion and advancementContinue Reading

Do You Know the Costs of NOT Managing your Commitments?

Do You Know the Costs of NOT Managing your Commitments?

In the quest to improve performance we’ve gone through several useful philosophies about what to manage, specifically we’ve been told to practice managing: time people projects energy These are all valuable management philosophies but they don’t acknowledge the most fundamental practice: the practice of managing commitments. What are commitments? Commitments take several forms e.g. promises,Continue Reading

What does it mean to do your best?

What does it mean to do your best?

Seems like an odd question to ask. The answer is, well … do your best; give it everything you’ve got. What does that mean, everything you’ve got? I hear people say they gave it 100%, and others say that they gave 200%. Hmmm. Makes me wonder if they have any idea what percentages mean. AllContinue Reading

Opinion disclaimers

Opinion disclaimers

Have you ever listened to the pharmaceutical adverts on TV?  As the soothing voice says “Absolv, when taken immediately after upsetting your partner can bring on expressions of contriteness that a puppy would envy.  Clinical studies have shown that 77% of users of Absolv are forgiven for extreme transgressions including not sharing with housework, comingContinue Reading

Are you ambitious?

Are you ambitious?

Many moons ago a senior director at my old company sat with me talking about my career and said, “Peter your problem is you have no ambition.” That felt like a slap across the face because at the time there was no one working harder than I was.  Prior to coming to the head officeContinue Reading

The one thing to get when you have a boss

The one thing to get when you have a boss

As we drove along the winding road to Maracas beach in Trinidad, my friend Scott said, “You know, I’ve come to realize that there’s only one thing you really need to get when you have a boss.” “Really?” I replied; my sense of intrigue and wonder stimulated because Scott is one of the most insightfulContinue Reading

Nothing is ever 100% anybody’s fault

Nothing is ever 100% anybody’s fault

If you find yourself blaming someone for some unwelcome outcome or a broken relationship, you might want to consider that nothing is ever 100% anybody’s fault. Accepting this requires an ability to expand your perspective on any situation. For example, in criminal justice it may be relatively easy to prove who robbed the convenience storeContinue Reading

Do you acknowledge people for “just” doing their jobs?

Do you acknowledge people for “just” doing their jobs?

Do you think you should acknowledge people for just doing their jobs; for just doing what they’re supposed to? Many people would say, “No, of course not!  They’re doing the absolute minimum required and it’s only service or results over and above the norm that should be acknowledged or rewarded.” If you think this way, pleaseContinue Reading

Five consequences of gossiping you shouldn’t ignore

Five consequences of gossiping you shouldn’t ignore

The essence of practice is the consciousness or intention you bring to the practice – something that you willingly choose to participate in every day.  Long held practices take on a life of their own and if there is no clear purpose to the practice we call them habits. For some gossiping is a habit,Continue Reading

Are you Cancerous?

Are you Cancerous?

If you take a telescope and look upwards and outwards, you’ll soon gain a healthy perspective on how small, how insignificant we and our planet are in the grand scale of our galaxy and the universe. You’ll be similarly amazed if you take a microscope and look inwards; there’s an entire universe of cells, atomicContinue Reading

The Living Room of Your Mind

The Living Room of Your Mind

In my last post, I wrote about naming the voice in your head. You know the voice. The one that’s always got a running commentary on whatever is happening, happened or will happen. Well, turns out there may be several different voices that we listen to (Big Mind, Big Heart) and my main point isContinue Reading

What is your concept of truth?

What is your concept of truth?

What is your concept of the truth, and why is it germane to the practice of your life? Well think about it.  If you live your life according to things that you believe are true, and they’re only partially true or flat out wrong, what do you think the impact would be on your life?Continue Reading