I awoke this morning having had a perfectly deep and comfortable but somewhat broken sleep. My eyelids had drifted open imperceptibly slowly just before 4am, as usual. I often awake around 4am for no apparent reason; there had been no noise, discomfort or disturbance of any kind, no unresolved or disturbing dreams. I simply breathed into consciousness, quite against my desire to remain fast asleep. A long deep refreshing sleep is simply one of life’s immense pleasures, I’m sure you agree? Not withstanding what else life may cast in your direction on any given day, it’s better handled after a good nights sleep.
In my line of sight, I had unconsciously glanced at the orange glowing characters of my digital tinnitus inhibiting radio alarm clock. Unrelated to my tinnitus, I could hear a wholly inaudible click in my head as the fourth, seemingly enormous hazy numeral, changed from ‘1’ to ‘2’. Ker…lunk! I said to myself, without conjuring up a single conscious thought. This was merely a silence (Tinnitus aside) in the night followed by another louder more defined silence, and marked only by my observation of the tiny change in the energy levels in front of me. Nothing had happened, save for my semiconscious observation of the clock, one outward involuntary breath, which would barely mist up a mirror, and the passing of a single second.
Ever since owning my first digital watch as a kid, in the 1970’s, I have been oddly fascinated that given their geometry, you can represent all the numbers 0 through 9 from a single symmetrical pattern formed of seven little straight lines, four vertical and three horizontal, which you only clearly notice on observing the number 8. Did the original creators of numbers (Hindu-Arabic Numerals) as symbols in India 2,500 years ago know this? I guess so. It’s also odd that if you write out 3.14 using the straight-line geometry in digital clocks and hold the number to a mirror, the reflection alphabetically spells PI.E. A joyful little coincidence I fear, rather than proof positive that we’re all part of a complex bio-software program, à la matrix. Although, the thought of the possibility of being in someone else’s irrational pointless game amuses my mischievous and curious mind.
In that millisecond in time between the last second of 03.51am and the first second of 03.52am, accompanied by an equally faint inward breath, I thought of nothing. Although, I was evidently awake and conscious to a degree, as I had registered the time on the clock, and it’s display change just at the very same moment in which I had gazed peacefully but involuntarily ahead, through my weary dark brown eyes, which now wouldn’t close.
It may seem odd, but whenever on those rare occasions, I turn to look at a digital watch or clock and in the same instance it changes from one minute to the next, for me it’s like looking at the stars in the night sky and smiling inside, when you see a meteorite strike briefly across the sky; as it burns like a stricken match upon our thin frictional atmosphere. It’s a tiny instant in time, but observing the moment is life affirming. Seeing the change, and making it your own experience, for nothing but the pleasure of it. Although, effecting change yourself seems to be even more life affirming, absorbing, and fulfilling. There’s something about our consciousness and it’s relationship to seeing or creating change that enables us to be more content than we would otherwise be.
Our highly evolved DNA programming does not work in our favour when nothing changes; we become unhappy, disillusioned or even frustrated through apparent boredom. Although, I would say that what keeps us content and motivated is not merely change itself, but moreover the arrival or realization of the unexpected. I obviously discount natural disasters, bee stings, tax demands and skin disorders and the like. I have in mind a colour rich country landscape of blue and green caught in a hazy orange/pink dusky sunlight, or seeing the first full cherry blossom of spring or receiving an unexpected phone call from an old friend in the early evening, fondly remembered; or perhaps on hearing a piece of music for the first time, or even better, hearing or seeing something you hadn’t noticed before in the otherwise familiar.
With this desire for surprise and revelation in mind, at our ‘heart’ as a species we are arguably explorers, philosophers and scientists, whether we like it or not. We seek new experiences, new environments, original thoughts, alternative ideas and new ways of binding important relationships. We are on a journey of discovery in the cosmos, and on our little blue planet, but also within ourselves. We wish to know more, and our instincts tell us to investigate and assimilate. We live to push knowledge boundaries, and seek out new experiences, and gain greater understanding. The reason is that our very existence and the concept, never mind reality, of all life is a perplexing mystery, which demands many questions and answers; or if you’re so inclined, acceptance and mindfulness. A foot in both camps serves us well.
Although indeed much scientific evidence would suggest that our predisposition to exert control over our built and natural environments and socio-economic constructs is at odds with the cycles and patterns found within nature and it’s cycles within the physics of our universe. Yet, given that we likely know what is fundamentally broken within our societies, cultures, and economies (Workplaces) we persist in repeating the errors and follies of the past, in the vain hope that perhaps we/you/they will be the lucky ones, who can benefit from some short term financial gain, in order to achieve personal but passing desires and acceptable exit strategies. Particularly given external pressures from sources out with our control. A perennial challenge to all.
Whether you’re a Politician, Banker, Company Director or put upon ‘Employee’. A long term and sustainable organizational strategy that benefits both organization and individual is sorely lacking in virtually every arena of endeavor. Organizations fail and collapse with increasing regularity these days because they simply have no long-term vision about why they are in business, what they’re selling in terms of an idea and who sustains and nourishes that idea, both internally and externally. It ought to be a matter of sharing the vision, and encouraging others to contribute to achieving that vision, and to be clear in all channels of communication. Corporate goals should never be cash or profit for their own sake. Therein lies disaster and inevitable disappointment. When a vision is evident and recognized, bought into and rewards shared, you then have a potential for a wider shared stake in the outcomes.
The word ‘Stakeholder’ is sadly often over used as a politically acceptable BS term for ‘employee & minion wage slave’. (Please read Neil Ushers’ superbly well considered post on workplace related BS terms ‘It is what it is & nothing more’.)
Incidentally, salary or wages are now well known to be half way down a list of top ten workplace motivators in any event. The human condition responds to challenge and responsibility first and foremost, and in so doing we are part of something creative and life affirming. We bring about change in whatever form that may take, and we take satisfaction and psychological reward from personally absorbing activity and it’s manifest results. When our peers see what we have done and acknowledge this we are affirmed as alive and vital, and we feed on this positive feedback loop. That is to say that putting something of yourself; as artists do into their work will generate effective, authentic and meaningful feedback and outcomes.
You cannot put yourself into something if you do not care about the outcome. Whether it’s how customers feel if you’re in a service industry or whether it’s the design of a new fuel-efficient hydrogen engine, or a beautifully considered work of Art. Caring about outcomes at a corporate level will only occur when organizations recognize at board level that all employees are part of their business and can make it sustainable and profitable, because when everyone cares you get 100% motivation and genuine participation. This happens because at a neurological level, we are rewarded by being part of, and seeing the change we create. We have a shared mission. Making stuff happen, being creative, and discovering the new is at the core of who we are, and it’s immensely rewarding to be productive in this fashion, and equally we must be recognized by our peers for our efforts or the collective vision will shatter and dissipate. It will be seen for the façade that it is.
Don’t wait for some other corporate entity to re-engineer the structure of their business, and watch from the sidelines whether it works or not, presumably on a short-term financial only basis. Get fully immersed in understanding the intrinsic link between human motivations and rewards, the power of personal responsibility, and the benefits of flexible working to support autonomous thinking in your organization. Be clear in what you are seeking to achieve and share your vision.
I’ll likely wake again tomorrow at just before 4am for no apparent reason, and unlike many I will hopefully turn one fleeting abstract moment and an unconscious breath into something I can use to share a vision in which I’m convinced we can all benefit.
Time marches on…
‘Tomorrow Started’ Courtesy of ‘Talk Talk’ 1984