For years, we've had "Take Your Child to Work Day." But lately, as I listen to people talk about the false selves they bring to jobs that feel pointless, I'm thinking that we need another day--"Take YOURSELF to Work Day."
On this day, you would have the joy of bringing the real you to work. The day would be focused on discovering and sharing each other's gifts, removing our corporate masks and creating real conversations and connection with each other as human beings.
We would start with individual greetings and being made to feel welcome as people coming into a new space. It would be clear that we were valuing each individual person for their individual selves. Anything that made it seem like we are interchangeable cogs in the machine would be strictly forbidden.
I'm thinking this day would include some of Peter Block's great questions for the Gift's Conversation including:
- What is the gift you currently hold in exile?
- What is it about you that no one knows about?
- What is the positive feedback you've received that still surprises you?
- What is the gift that you have that you do not fully acknowledge?
There would be no discussion of what we need to "fix" or "improve" in ourselves, no conversations about our deficiencies. Instead, we would celebrate each other's strengths and assets, the possibilities that are at the heart of who we are.
We would also discuss the gifts we receive from our co-workers, including asking and answering questions like:
- What gift have you received from another in this room?
- What has someone in your group today done that has touched you, moved you or been of value to you?
- In what way did someone here enage you in a way that had meaning for you?
Each person, as he or she heard what is appreciated about him/her, would only be allowed to say "Thank you. I enjoyed hearing that." There would be no downplaying of their gifts, no "I couldn't have done it without you."Just a heartfelt "thank you."
On this day, we would not be exhorted to be "professional," but would, instead, be required to be real and authentic, including sharing our emotions about the things that are important to us. We would be encouraged and supported in feeling joy, sorrow, confusion, and any other emotion that comes with being a fully engaged human being. The only emotion that wouldn't be allowed is apathy.
Part of our day would be spent having conversations about the things that actually MATTER to us--the stuff that brings us joy and the stuff that keeps us up at night. Each of these conversations would be received with acceptance and curiosity, not judgement and criticism, because each is part of the real human experience. What matters to us is part of what defines who we are.
We'd end the day by committing to bringing more of ourselves to the work we do. Not in the sense of pouring our every waking moment into work, but instead, bringing our own unique gifts and humanity to work with us every day. This includes having the space to NOT work so that we were able to stay in touch with those gifts. And we'd commit to supporting our co-workers in the same endeavor.
Of course, ideally, this wouldn't be confined to a single day. But even that one day could make a huge difference, don't you think? Frankly, a day structured like this is a day I would happily bring my daughters to, as well.