Zen at Work
Okay I am not 100% sure of the title, but it sounds better than my other options.
Today I want to share with you one of the secrets to fulfillment and adding value to your work. No matter what that work might be. And it is pretty simple really.
Throughout my martial arts career it was drummed into me…
- If you are going to do it, do it right
- There is always room for improvement
- Minimise the effort – practice economy of motion
- Synchronise the effort for maximum effect – A twist of the hips at the right moment will add power to a punch or kick.
- What you do, how you do it, expresses who you are
These things applied to training, but they were also applied to things like sweeping the dojo. Now these principles are so ingrained that I don’t even realise I am using them, and they have served me well.
So how does this work in practice?
Whatever task I am about to undertake I think about the end goal and I think what I can do to best achieve that outcome. I think about the next person to touch that task or project and how this is likely to affect them. What can I do that will make their job easier. I work out a way to do it in as few steps as possible, and I look at if there is anything else I can add to the mix that will compound the effect.
Why make the effort to do any of this?
Because it is who you choose to be.
When your work becomes a reflection of who you are,
then your work becomes art and you become the artist.
What could be better than being an artist with your whole life as a work of art?
Recently this methodology has been what I have been using stacking supermarket shelves. If I find the stock above the display (the hand stack) is untidy or disorganised, I will organise it as part of the task I am doing.
- Because it will help the next person looking for those items
- Because that is who I choose to be
This means I am a fraction slower than otherwise, but the boss won’t mind because ultimately it is saving time in the long run.
But this isn’t just limited to simple manual tasks. While working for Telecom I created a couple of systems and the same principles were brought to bear. We looked at what the system was meant to do, but rather than just stop there we looked at who else might be affected or who might have an interest in the data we were using or creating. And we incorporated these wider needs into the project.
But you will be happy to know that you don’t need to study or memorise that short list. You don’t need to study martial arts for 20 years. You just need to remember two simple things:
- Take pride in what you do
- Be mindful – stay present and focused on the task in front of you.
Do these two things and you will be on the path of all the Japanese masters who make sushi, create screen doors, or forge the best swords in the world.