Humanizing the World of Work - A Conversation Between Share Collaborative and Growing Minds

Dubbed “the great resignation,” employers continue to grapple with a staggering exodus of employees from their workplaces.  In the U.S. alone, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4 million Americans quit their jobs in July 2021.  Resignations peaked in April and have remained abnormally high for the last several months despite withdrawal of federally funded protections.  A Microsoft survey of more than 30,000 global workers showed that 41% of workers/employees were considering quitting or changing professions.  

Organizations are increasingly tracing the origins of this tidal wave of resignations far beyond the start of the COVID pandemic, wondering how they can retain people in the face of this tidal wave of turn over.  The data suggest it’s not just about compensation anymore.  The pandemic, alongside a global reckoning with structures of inequity, have given people all kinds of reasons to pause, reflect, and to seek change. 
Many are reevaluating what work means to them, how they are valued, and how they spend their time.  People want a sense of purpose, belonging, and balance.  Millennials and Gen Z workers have been simultaneously embraced and shunned for articulating the need for a rethinking or transformation when it comes to how we approach work and work culture.  Personally and professionally, people are seeking “real connection”, to know their contributions matter, and to feel the organizations they work for are making the world a better place. 

We’ve all likely encountered the expression, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”  But what does “being the change” look like on an organizational level?   

How can workplaces, go about creating the circumstances for human thriving? 

For more than a decade, two innovative organizations have wrestled with this very question.  Growing Minds’ Susan Lubar and Izzy Solvang (insert your links)  and Share Collaborative’s Jojopahmaria Nsoroma, Noor Jawad, and Shawn Smith recently sat down to consider what the path toward a more human, more divine, world of work could look like.  
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Conversation Transcript
Let's go there!  What do we want to be?  And how do we do it? And is it an individual choice? You know, I hear a lot in multiple types of work that "First you have to love yourself. / First you have to be kind to yourself in order for that to move outwards." If we assume that's accurate, and if that's the foundation, is that enough? What's the next step? Or is that THE step? So, what's the change and how do we make change?
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For me it's really about starting at the individual level. But if it we're talking about an organization, it's about creating the opportunity for that to happen at the individual level. It is like atoms bouncing off of each other. You know, humans are like that. So, when I'm tuned in and present, ready to listen - that's going to shift the energy and the space because I'm going to be presenting what you just said… "I love myself. I love showing up here. I love doing the work that we're doing."  But if you don’t create the space in order for that to happen then it can’t happen.

The last thing I would add is that, for me the image is a mountain. We are climbing this mountain to get to a higher altitude, for who we are individually and as a group of humans on a planet. It is important to want to climb the mountain, but it's also helpful to have the rope (and I am not a mountain climber) and the other tools that you need to climb the mountain, so that we can all go together - and a common understanding of the concepts and the skills that are related to that. So it's first creating space, and it’s also helping people connect to the skills and concepts in themselves that allow us to climb. 
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We are always in a hurry to get to the next step. And I'm not saying there's anything wrong or bad with trying to get to the next step. However, you really can't know until it's time to know.  And as a collective, we have to remind each other that we are in a process. It is a journey, and a little is a lot. We are not going to overturn 400 - 500 years of conditioning in one training or even in a year of trainings. Finding a balance of being here now, fully engaged for the Journey, for the Long Haul, because it isn't going to be a straight path; it's winding. 

One of the thought leaders that I follow sent out her update for July and she said, "July is all about two steps forward and one step back. But it's okay." You know, I think that wherever we're going we're going to create that together. And it's important for us to decide where that is and how we're going to get there together.  Versus folks like myself or others who are engaged in conversation about it, deciding for the whole community. We have to find ways to first connect to each other and let that organically - that vision and that energy to come forth - organically from all of us as a unit.  That kind of collaboration, we're not used to.  We typically don't function in that way within organizations in our separate departments.  It has to go through so many hoops, and you know the bureaucracy of it all. But yet people want to know what's next, when we don't really know where we are.  And I think to be reminded of that is really important. 

Another part that's connected to it for me is that, you know, I have had the opportunity and great blessing to travel to other countries in the world, places that are called developing countries.  And I've seen really fulfilled and joyous people, living with so much less. And then you know, but we've forgotten how to do that in this society where we have everything at the click or a touch of a finger.  And I think COVID, our experience with the pandemic, is also helping us to wake up to questioning, "What do we need to create things - something different, something new.  What will work for us as individuals and families and neighborhoods - and in our organizations?" And we have to come to that together.
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For me, being the change is more than self-awareness and more than self-regulation, which are words I use a lot. It’s also about repairing and connecting. In any relationship, even in a relationship with yourself, you don't like yourself all the time, and you need to change your mind. Certainly with other people there are misunderstandings, and I've learned that one of the most important things, outside of managing myself, is to show that I care and that I want to listen and understand. That creates that connection. That's that softness that we started our discussion with. I feel that when I'm talking to somebody, and even if it's just like, "How do you make your pasta at dinner?" You know, it's like you can't just go and tell somebody the right way to do it. You have to understand where they're coming from; what their thought process is.  And then decide "Do I want to add to this or not?" And when those mistakes are made, and you move a little bit too fast, or are in that reactive brain - Oh, you can make up for that!  You can go back if you can tap into that soft place inside you. Just as, you know, as you were talking about earlier, "I'm a human being, and I just want to apologize. I didn't mean to come across so aggressively."

I think that is part of being the change -  is that we have to constantly change. We can't have patterns that work because we are teachers and know the way it is. We have to be able to tap into that place, and feel fluid and responsive.  But really show that we care and we want to listen and learn.
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For me, I have a cosmic perspective on the change that I believe is happening, and that we’re in the midst of. As Noor says, it is something that is really incomprehensible. We don't really yet have access to even understanding it all. So it's not yet in a practical application.  But we're going to get there! What I see based on what's been happening, again like I said, I've been tuned in, for many many years, into you know what's happening with humanity. What is this evolutionary process that we’re in?  To me the aspirational piece is that we're going from being disposable to Divine.

Our being disposable has been a conditioning for people with ancestry in Europe. It really comes out of Vikings and plague. The experience of the Vikings would come in and burn the ships and they tell whoever's town they took over, "We've taken over.  Your culture doesn't matter - you are going to be us and we're going to steal your culture. It's now going to be ours." So this kind of being stripped away - that it was okay for people to take. And every group of people on the planet has had that experience, in one way or another because of war.

Then the plague, what it does in Europe and also in Asia, (people forget that the plague really did start in Asia) but I mean when you wake up and everybody in your town is gone, and you're the only one left and you are like 11 years old and you don't understand about microbiology. Right there, you are locked into believing, "Well that was supposed to happen, so I must be the good one and I'm ordained." That begins this whole dominance system and mentality that we are still grappling with today.

This belief in people being disposable. It's reflected in so many ways in Western culture and of course it's eked into, well, I don’t call them developing countries, I call them the ancient countries, the wisdom countries. As Noor says, where people have access to their spiritual intelligence, and they're not inundated by material things to the degree that way we are. ….

To be on a track to Divinity you have to really get that you're here for a purpose. That you have a sacred contract. That overrides the needs of the economy. The United States is actually the only country that was established for economic reasons. It wasn’t that somebody was nomadic and drifted into a beautiful lake and said, "We're going to set this up as our home." That's not what happened. We're very much into this economic survival thing.  And so it's really hard for us to believe that you know we are divine.

To get to what is actually happening, Divinity is where we really have reverence for our life; we have reverence for all living creatures. We have reverence for each other. That we wouldn't think about putting people into prison to have them rot away. That we would just realize that the ACES took over and so we need to support them in their healing and growth and not re-traumatize them.

To me it's about choosing love over fear. Again, if those scientists around the table in Fukushima had that strengthened in them, you know more of them than not would have put up their hands and said, "No we can't do this here/ this is not the place for it/we can find an alternative/let's open up to that." But they wouldn't have done that.  Or, the owners of that building in Florida would have said, "Yeah this is not good. Nine million dollars - that's nothing compared to what will happen if this building collapses and people lose their lives." They would have been able to do that, and so the ability to choose love over fear. 

And again, it starts with mindfulness!  It starts with wanting to be able to experience your life in a different way - to no longer be subjected to the belief that we're here to struggle and suffer.  So, that's where I think we're headed into.  That is the change I'm here for. And you know I'm very curious and excited to be alive at this time and to learn, you know, how we get closer to really understanding that we do come from Stardust.  That we're here for a purpose. 

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