Are you a human being or a human doing?

Photo credit Dingzeyu Li via

Photo credit Dingzeyu Li via

Back in the corporate world, I’m finding it is easy to get caught up in the “busy-ness” of work life. Where workplaces are downsizing and introducing efficiency measures all the time, there is also the demand for more. Achieving more with less is often the catch-cry. But how do you do this and retain your sense of self? How do you retain your state if being, rather than becoming someone always doing?

What I notice is that there can be no time for anything but work, at work. There are too many things to do. Social niceties like lunching with friends or catching up over a coffee in a cafe instead at the kitchen sink, are few. Organisations are lean. Downsizings leave one person to do the job of two or more. People are anxious and worried about not getting everything done.

What has become of we humans? We are busily running around, measuring, analysing, refining … doing! What would anyone think if they looked down upon us from another world and saw the way we seem to live and work at times. Are we human beings or have we become human doings?

In the coaching world it is suggested that if you “be” who you want to be, you will have all that you need to have. Yet, how do we get that sense of perspective? With busyness encroaching, it is hard to detach and not get drawn into the craziness.

As a contractor, you get to have a slightly different perspective. On the one hand, you are inevitably a little detached as you may only be in the workplace temporarily. Yet, if you want more work and an extension to your contract – getting more invested in the place may seem like a good strategy.

meditate Deniz AltindasIn a world where temporary work arrangements are much more the norm than ever before, this introduces a need for new ways of managing work relationships and work loads. The article in HBR by Boudreau about the Future of the work proposes work places will take on a new order and technologically enhanced arrangements. Things will be networked, social and entrepreneurial. They will be more flexible and able to adapt and change to suit demands.

With more emphasis on finding your own work, running your own business and being entrepreneurial, requires different skills. The lack of certainty must surely bring with it the need for new ways to manage stress and anxiety. Perhaps this is being felt all the more keenly in the large organisations whose structures don’t favour the ability to be nimble and flex with the changes being demanded in the current business environment?

Humans are amazingly resilient though. They have the capacity to flex and change as needed. This only comes if they are “being” human though, recognising their human needs. It is easy to get caught up in the busy needs of the world around you, and become the doing person – relentlessly.

How do you break the cycle?

You have to stop and “be”. Stop. Stop running, spinning, doing. Stop multi-tasking. Be. Focus on the experience of being. Savour the moment. Feel stillness again. Even if only for a few minutes a day, it is a practice with benefits. Being deliberately mindful has many benefits. I don’t have the space to extol them all here nor would I express the experience of others adequately. Suffice to say, it is important to allow yourself some stillness, quiet and calm.

This is my eighth week of work. It seems timely that I write this piece as we approach the start of another Australian ski season. It will soon be time to take stock – and merge the city lifestyle with the snow one. Managing these may well bring my “doing-ness” to the fore. Time to re-establish the mindfulness routine methinks!

What about you? Do you have a mindfulness routine to share?

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