We have an epidemic of disengaged workers happening today, as I discuss in the Be Here and Serve Story. One of the single biggest contributors to this epidemic is not corporate greed or workplace toxicity, contrary to what we might believe about the state of Corporate (believe me, I agree it’s bad). This contributor has created such a sense of betrayal and bitterness, it might actually be driving those things we hate most about our workplace.
Imagine, you got a job out of college. You took the job with the best benefits. It offered career growth, a steady paycheck, and seemingly endless years of work to be done. After which, you can retire and still have a steady income stream from which you’ll enjoy the remaining years of your life. It’s a luring proposition that many of us have fallen for. This scenario has been playing out since the beginning of the industrial revolution, and the tension seems to grow with each generation.
The problem with this scenario is that we all of a sudden replaced our trust in God* to lead our career with our Employer. In essence, we made our Employer our Higher Power. The anxiety and paralyzing fear we feel when our job is unstable really comes back to this fact. The moment the company slips up (because it will), we feel betrayed by something so much bigger than just a company because our Employer has been given a place so much bigger than what a company can fill. (*I use the term God. You may reference this as Spirit, the Universe, Source. The meaning is the same – that within you and I and every being that is connected and eternal.)
Now, companies are just as much in this debacle as we are. They have *loved* this level of power and influence over us. Our Employers use it to send us wherever they want, to ask us to take on more and more work as they continue to optimize their bottom line, and to pressure us to be “on” 24/7. It’s interesting that most corporations are grappling with how to retain high potential workers and create more engagement in their workforce. They’ve fed into the role of Higher Power we allowed them, but can’t understand why the response to their business decisions comes under such scrutiny. They want to keep the level of influence we’ve given them, yet respond that “business is business” when they don’t wield that responsibility well.
The liberating truth here is that our employer is NOT our higher power. We are guided by a force that is far more altruistic, generous and greater. Not only are we held by this force, but so are companies. God is working through every human construct as well as every human being.
When we view our employer as a human construct, we are no longer devastated as it makes errors or as the people who run it fall short of where employees would like to see them. Once you see your Higher Power as the One in control of your career, your anxiety eases.
Here are a few of my go to steps for when I realize I need to stop making my employer, my higher power. Use these to check in with the frustration or anxiety you’re feeling today:
1) I forgive myself – for giving a human construct the faith that only my Higher Power can hold, For misplacing trust, and for fearing I am not safe. Recognize that this is a pattern that we inherited through our lineage and culture. You have a privilege in this moment. You have the opportunity to see your circumstances differently.
2) I write out the ways I was depending on the company in one column. Next to it, I re-write the way my Higher Power sees it in order to see the situation from a different perspective. In what ways are your gifts being revealed to you? In what areas are you growing as a result of your challenges?
3) (only when genuinely ready) I forgive the company for betraying me. Ultimately, the lessons and the growth I’m experiencing from the situation is painful at times, but ultimately an extremely powerful gift. When I connect with the gift, forgiveness comes with ease. I caution you to only take this step when you can approach it with curiosity (the best sign that you’re ready). It’s ok to not be ready, and it will come in due time.
This is a practice that you may need to go back to every day for a while. I still go back to it years after some of the most challenging situations are distant memories. You will know when you need it based on the level of peace you feel in the midst of your work-life. The key to transforming this whole system is knowing it’s been off for a long time, and our only opportunity is to transform ourselves – and that is enough. As much as you may desire for your outer circumstances at work to change, for the company to change, or for the system to change, when you lead from within in this manner – everything around you actually does change. It will catch up with you faster than you realize!
(Note: if you are a business owner, insert business for employer. While the circumstances are different, the risk from a spiritual sense is the same when you run your own business and it takes the place of a higher power.)