Raking Leaves…

The summer before last I found myself “picking up the pieces” of my failed master plan…lol! In doing so, I was doing odd and end jobs: drywall, graphic design, brake repair and yard work. Ironically it was the yard work that helped me think most clearly. The raking of leaves…

I bring this up because it felt like as soon as I got there I had all sort of “stuff” come up. It was like the minute my life became a bit more silent all of the things that lie below the surface came bursting up in an overwhelming rush.

But I’m not trying to make this post about me and my process. What became evident to me is that we all share in this human condition, that we all have all sort of “stuff” lying below the surface and that it seems we all collude to create lives and environments to try and keep them out of site.

I am wondering about this shared pattern. I am wondering how much of the interpersonal “stuff” that we have to deal with at work, how many of the little or big fights, the dislikes and frustrations that keep like minded people from working together, how many of these are just escape valves for all the “stuff” that lies below our shared surface?

For a long time I’ve been musing about what it takes to build a contemplative organization. How do we design spaces and processes that allow us to more boldly look at the “stuff” that we don’t want to look at? The goal is not to turn our workspace into our therapists couch, but to find healthier ways to come together and build a world that works for all – to practice ways of living in the world we are trying to build.

All the upheaval, all the “stuff” I had to face as I was simply raking leaves with great intention, all of it became very small in light of the sense of freedom that I found beneath it all. The self-effort and contemplation inevitably paid off night after night as I went to bed exhausted but with the deep understanding that I am part of something greater than all the small stuff in the way.

I try and show others that we must look at the yard and start raking it one stroke at a time. Some of us have large yards with LOTS of leaves on top, but if we take some time and clear a little off at a time, the grass below will soon become lush, green and a wonderful place to plant a thought. Take your time, relax, be at peace and be intentional with every stroke of the rake.


13 thoughts on “Raking Leaves…

  1. This is powerful and inspiring. Reflection is a wonderful skill that promotes healthy and informed change. The stars must have been aligned today, it seems as if everyone in “my” world is reflecting. I wish more people felt the way you do, Dimitri. With each passing day, there’s a chance to share your gift, to promote the idea of a shared humanity, to reflect, in silence or aloud, to unveil the “stuff” that keeps us divided for whatever reason. That “stuff” definitely weighs a lot and serves as an unnecessary partition at time. Reflection as a catalyst for positive change; for cohesiveness. Thank you for the insight.

  2. @ Taj, well thank you for the kind words and shared view. I will say that I do favor contemplation over reflection any day. I will elaborate in an upcoming post…

  3. Provokes thought, it does! For me, it’s not about reflection, more about processing and contemplation of those parts / pieces of our lives that we sometimes get lost in and sometimes seem overwhelming to us when we cluster ‘life’ together. When we break issues apart, and approach a bit at a time, we see more clearly and are able to isolate the issue and place in perspective.

    Contemplation is the act of separating / removing from the environment and steadily placing focus upon. Doing so brings clarity and meaning that what may seem monumental at times, is really small and inconsequential in the scheme of it all.

    Not sure I agree the workplace is the right place to bring such issues to hand. I understand what you’re striving for and believe a much more harmonious world is needed. Just not sure the approach is best one to accomplish what is needed.

    Most people spend relatively little time actually focused on work and bring far too much drama in to the work place / space as it is. If time is spent focused intently on doing one’s job, the drama crumbles and the focus placed on it seems silly, many times, when it is revisited. There is truly far too much stuff that gets in the way of people taking pride in in their work or much of anything.

  4. @ Vic, I think the “workplace” cannot be thought of traditionally. We are at a much different time where “workplace” means something very different than it did even 10 years ago. Because we have to do much more within our work place and the lines between “personal” and “corporate”lives are becoming blurry, I think we should pay attention to the place we spend most our energy.

    Believe it or not, our “workplace” dictates much of our personal lives. Hell some of us even “hide” in our “workplace” so we don’t have to dal with our personal lives. So why not give the “workplace” the same amount of merit?

    Personally I think its time we try something a bit different…

  5. D, You are correct — the work place does mean something different today than it did 10 years ago…..its lost its credibility and respect, in my opinion. Too many people view work as simply a means to an end, rather than something in which to take pride and a path to improving self / others / environment and contributing to making life better for all. I agree we should pay attention to where energy is supposed to be spent….but for the right reasons. Making a contribution, impacting change not coddling people and not arranging people’s social lives.

    There is way too much ‘personal’ brought in to the business / corporate world as it is and it gets in the way of productivity and goals. There is no pride in what we do professionally anymore because home / friends / leisure are brought in to the work environment. Speaking with friends and loved ones while at work — wrong, in my opinion, unless an emergency or while on break OR unless there is a causal relationship with the goals in midst of being accomplished.

    You can not convince me that an employee can concentrate 100% on work and pay as much attention to detail when he/she is texting, IM-ing or talking on his/her cell while at work. Not one of your arguments hold water for me! There is too much personal brought out of the ‘home’ as it is!

    I’m all for re-thinking the corporate world if we strive to teach pride, self respect, personal space, professionalism, care for the world around us teaching others to give and integrity. Values that are lost within a society that is mediocre, at best. How can we be so advanced in so many ways, and lack the simple, everyday skills / values that truly impact change and drive success!?!!

  6. @ Vic, I agree somewhat. My management style of my workplace is you can do “anything” within reason of course so long as it doesn’t affect the end result. Meaning that if you can do all that I ask you to do, do it well and you can still can talk to friends/family then so be it.

    If you like someone you work with and are able to keep the relationship from affecting work then so be it.

    Again I know my methodology is unorthodox but it has worked in places I supervised.

  7. I challenge you on that, D….you’re setting folks up to fail in a structure that doesn’t present as you paint it.

  8. @ Vic, Not sure I understand what you’re saying regarding your challenge. I have done it before in several working environments and have been successful, so “challenge”?

    Again its just a matter of management style and clarity. In any given situation you can find those that wont be successful. Outside of my personal experience, I challenge YOU to look at how Google runs their business…

    They don’t have set hours, they don’t have a dress code, and no one there has official titles. Of course there are some parameters for standard employee protocol, but yet their unorthodox style yields them a very camaraderic environment that has made Google the single most successful company in the world!

    That is how I would govern my workplace. If I find people that cannot work within that environment successfully, then I remove them. Simple.

    Now as far as your comment, “I truly believe I just have to force myself to walk away!” I don’t understand that that means or your point…

  9. Seems to be working well for you now, eh!!….and good luck with that in your new venture! Therein lies part of the challenge.

    A strong leader understands and drives the culture within the organization of which he/she is a leader. I’ve lead many organizations and while structure was critical to the organizational success, the employees felt valued, understood, supported and part of something very different from the norm. That is guided by the leader, the model and example set. Most people are followers and need / seek guidance. You lead by example and don’t need to shout your style and power from the rooftop. If people could successfully live without, we would have a world without structure, laws and requirements.

    I’m well aware of Google and the success they have had. That is a very unique situation and a Global environment that lends itself quite nicely to such a structure. I have no qualms given the right environment with what you are painting, but you’re leaving quite a bit out of the equation for the structure you’re describing. People believe and follow, quite literally, the words of strong individuals. You notice, I did not say strong leaders. Not all strong people have the ability to lead, to successfully bring together people for the sake of purpose and impacting change.

    So my challenge remains — Know what you’re building and it’s place in the goals you have set, understand the needs of those you bring together, fully realize your own strengths and limitations and the role you play within the structure you propose. All must work in harmony and purpose!

  10. @Vic, this can easily become and endless cycle. So I will stand firm to disagree based on our respective perceptions of management and said subjects within that environment.

    Google doesn’t “lack” structure its just a different one.

    Our styles are different and so your challenge to me isn’t a challenge – its doing what fits me and my style.

    Until I run into a hurdle with my style and deem it unsuccessful, I will roll out this way…

  11. Hmmm….interesting take! Never said Google lacked structure.

    I have a front row seat, as do you, so will observable as we move forward. My challenge to you had nothing to do with your ‘management’ style…..further perpetuates what I believe you will see over time. Until then…

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data, ability to repeat discredited memes, and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Also, be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor even implied. Any irrelevancies you can mention will also be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous :)

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