How do we recognise love in our working lives, both in ourselves and those around us? Could we name it if we saw it in action? Taking our que from Leading with Love, we’re going to look at a simple reflection exercise to help us notice those moments in our day where love was either present or absent, and thinking through how we can make love an active force in our work.
At the end of the day, it’s so easy to fall into repeated patterns of behaviour. We close the laptop, step out of our study or office, step onto the train or into the car, and go through the same motions that we probably do every day: eat, TV, sleep. When we feel exhausted from another day of work, reflecting on our experience is usually the last thing on our mind. Yet reflection can be a powerful way of breaking ourselves out of our routine; not just in terms of what we do, but the mental and emotional space we occupy every day.
To find out what love looks like in the context of working life, we have to be open to recognising it in our reflections of the day. Try keeping a simple record or diary of your experiences at work each day. Note down conversations, interactions, tasks. When did you feel yourself moved during the day? When did you sense your words or actions were coming from a place of love? Did you reach out to a colleague, acknowledge someone’s needs, sacrifice – happily, willingly – your time or energy for the benefit of others? Or, alternatively, did you feel yourself expressing behaviours that were needy or selfish? Were you acting from a place of wariness, or survival instinct?
By analysing these feeling, noticing when they arise, what triggers them, the organisational or interpersonal contexts where they manifest, we can learn profound lessons about ourselves. We might not have realised how much of our behaviour is driven by fear, how little we are willing to acknowledge the humanity of those around us. Equally, we might see just how giving of ourselves we are, realising what a positive contribution we have been making without ever having given ourselves credit for it.
Watchfulness and wakefulness: being awake and alert to what drives our behaviour, what governs how we show up. When we begin to see how we are impacted we can begin to find our freedom, to go after those situations that bring the best out of us, to steer clear of behaviours we find distasteful in ourselves. If we are not conscious, we are easily hooked into instrumental patterns, being used by a system and using others in turn.
Reflection creates space for change.