Recently I was in a discussion with a young man. During this discussion he asked me some questions about disciplining the mind. A series of words immediately came to me. The first word was think, the second was task, the third was team work, the fourth word was training and the fifth word was tithing. These words are then placed into readiness for the concept of a work setting.
Many years ago, after being on heavy medications for a long period of time my brain just did not function well. It had taken a lot of reflection to understand how much damage had been done because of these medications. In light of what I was going through I had to learn and relearn how to think. It was like a defogging process. My brain had to be cleaned up and thought patterns had to be rerouted. It meant identifying the simplest of starting points and clarifying by thinking through for myself what it was that I was about to do. I often realized I had only partial knowledge of what I was about to work on. Each task would take a series of steps and multiple “defogging” moments to accomplish the overall objective. There were times my head hurt so bad, my head just pounded. I had to think and then think again to get through to the next thought.
When showing up for work the primary task was to just get there. Then I needed to identify what I was to do when I got there. The stringing together of a series of smaller tasks allowed me to see new patterns evolve. Together it was then that I could see that the ultimate goal was being reached. This task orientation included identifying the task, clarifying expectations around the task, the steps necessary to accomplish the task and ultimately reviewing the task to see that it had actually been accomplished.
The third word or concept to learn was teamwork. In the team process I needed to learn there was no shame in the difficulties I was facing. I would need to look beyond my own failures and frustrations to now build clean relationships around task orientation. I had to continually understand that a portion of my life was and is gone. Memories and understandings that would feed and nurture my ability to accomplish a task were also gone. Because of this a whole new learning process needed to include the others around me. I needed to learn how to bring these people into the task at hand. I needed to learn how to accept advice, to bounce words and ideas off the wall in a safe way. I needed to see that my own view may have been distorted. Ultimately I could not pass the buck. I would need to take responsibility for the overall task. It was in the teamwork process that I had to learn communication and ownership.
The fourth word is training. On-the-job became the training module for work. I needed an openness to learn from doing. I needed to learn from watching others doing. What was learned was often caught on sight. Training or being taught became a part of a normal routine, new patterns. Training needed to be branded into my mind nurturing and creating a door for an integrated process of lifelong learning.
The final word tithing may seem like a strange word in this conversation. Tithing is often reserved to a religious environment. It usually means setting aside a specific amount of money to give to a charitable cause. In the workplace I would explain to my employees that I want to see 10% of the time used in responding to other work people who needed your help.
Because this is a volunteer organization, there will be many people who will at times seem lost and be trying to find their way. You are asked to stay on task and at the same time learn how to respond to the needs of those around you. It represents a fascinating balancing act. It also becomes a primary tool akin to “greasing the axle,” or paying attention to the “squeaky wheel” that may ultimately keep you from achieving your task.