Global currency

I continue this week with my thoughts about the book I’ve been reading called The Dream Manager. I’ve since finished it and have embarked on creating a list of my dreams – since I am my own best guinea pig!

Matthew Kelly suggests categorizing the dreams on your list. Although categorizing isn’t a bad idea, I didn’t find his particular 12 categories all that useful to me. I imagine though, that if I write down 100 dreams, the way he suggests, then I will be able to review them and find some themes that are relevant for me. I’ll have to see as I do it. So far, I have noticed that I got to about 20 dreams on my list and then I was stumped. I stayed with it though, as he suggested, and found I was able to pick up again, but with a different flavour. I was having to dig deeper. I finally had to put my pen down because it was well past when I needed to be asleep. I’m at #67 and I will finish it today.

My next step will be to live with the list for a while – reread it, tweak it, add to it. Matthew suggests keeping your dreams in a book bought for this purpose, and dating new additions. We need to keep it front and center so that it doesn’t get lost in the flotsam and jetsam of day-to-day life. I took advantage of serendipity today and worked with one of my clients to get a list started. It will be interesting to hear someone else’s reaction to the process.

While I was reading the book, I was considering the organizations in which I have worked over my career, and how much this might have helped them. As I have said many times to many people, and at the risk of repeating myself, I have never liked the concept that human beings should keep themselves separated into compartments – one for home and one for work.

Oh, I agree that I wouldn’t be an effective surgeon if I were operating and thinking at the same time about the fight I had with little Janey this morning about whether she could have an unsupervised sleepover. That goes without saying. What I object to is the idea that one doesn’t affect the other, positively and negative. We know about the negatives but perhaps the positive aspects don’t get enough attention.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been teaching supervisory skills when workshop participants have spontaneously blurted out in the group that the skills they were learning would help them in their marriage or with their kids. And if an employee gets better at strategic planning and budgeting at home, it has to be that they bring those same skills to work. A ‘team’ at work is your family or neighbourhood at home. Similarly, good listening skills apply anywhere.

Think about how much more productive we are at work when we have a supportive partner at home; someone who listens to us, believes in us, and helps us to cope when life gets hairy. Conversely, there are times when life falls apart at home and we need the support of our work team to get through it and out the other side. Death and/or illness in the family, or divorce, are just a couple of examples. You can say to someone that they shouldn’t bring their divorce to work but we are now recognizing that it’s more effective to acknowledge that we are coping with adversity or change, and provide some help so the person can get through it. Nowadays, we have employee assistance programs for this.

Let me get back to the idea of dreams though. When you ask employees to share their dreams at work, they bring more than their skills and their life challenges; they bring their hopes and aspirations. This is positive stuff. This is what inspires others, including the customers. Matthew recounts an interesting by-product of the dreaming process at work, when he observes that colleagues were getting a tremendous sense of satisfaction from helping one another to achieve their dreams; big or small. They started keeping track of one another’s progress and offering encouragement and even resources, and then celebrating the successes.

When I’m my best, or progressing to be my best, in either my work or my home setting, one impacts the other. Once recognized, we can capitalize on it. People who are optimizing their lives, in whatever way is right for them, have better self esteem, they make better citizens – both corporate and global. It’s win-win for everyone. Matthew says in the book, “Appreciation is the strongest currency in the corporate culture.” Let me expand that sentiment to life! And what better form of appreciation can there be than helping someone to articulate and go after their dreams – work or personal? Talk about ripples on a pond!

It’s such a simple idea and the ramifications are so grand. I can see now that I’ve been waiting for someone to articulate an idea like this and set it in motion. It makes me wonder, as with all good ideas, “Now why didn’t I think of that?”

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