I have been a business owner running a dental office for nearly 15 years and there is something profound that strikes me about having employees, and that is how unprepared for dealing with life they are. Yes, they may have the skill sets, qualification or work experience to do the job, yet they are ill equipped to deal with the tensions or dynamics that arise in the workplace and/or the challenges that life places in front of us.
At first I used to think this was an age thing – that the younger generations just lacked life experience and the wisdom that comes with having gone around the block a few more times. However, the more I reflected upon it and observed my employees – of which there have been a lot over the years, from temps to casuals to those who have stayed with me for many years – the more I realised that so many cannot cope with the world and the demands and pressures of managing a private/social life alongside their work life.
I noticed all too often that we had many great employees who suddenly dropped the ball because the pressures of their personal circumstances turned them from competent and capable at work to inefficient, distracted, clumsy, unable to mentally focus so as to handle the basic tasks and incapable of dealing with the normal levels of stress and the demands of work in a dental office.
I wondered why this is and also observed the patterns and behaviours that people tended to fall back to, as well as my own coping mechanisms and ways of being when being asked to handle more than I thought myself able to, or what I deemed to be fair.
Over the years of being a dental practice owner, I have come to realise that those who do amazingly in the workplace versus those who struggle to thrive have some huge differentiating factors. One being their upbringing, the other being life skills – yet even with these great foundations when the heat is on they crack and become a less than average employee, which has so often resulted in poor performance and dismissal or resignation even when support, training and duties with a lesser responsibility level were provided.
This strikes me as not only sad but a great loss to the work force, detrimental to the self-worth and psyche of the employee and employer who wonder where it all went wrong and ultimately point the finger of blame at themselves and each other.
I was brought up to work hard, try hard, have a go, be willing to make mistakes and work things out for myself. I was also my biggest supporter, cheerleader, champion and self-believer so that when things got tough even though yes, I felt like throwing in the towel, I never quit but instead worked out a way to seek a solution and a different approach. Thus, you can knock me down, but I always get back up.
We call this resilience and it is to be encouraged, but not when our resilience comes from overriding our deep sensitivity, vulnerability and the willingness to ask for support and the collaboration of others.
Resilience and resilience training are now becoming core subjects at medical and dental schools in an attempt to curb the high level of mental health issues, burnout and stress and ultimately the terrible and horrifying suicide statistics seen in a group of highly educated people charged with caring for human life and doing no harm – a group of people who are so ill equipped to deal with life that the only answer is to take their own.
Surely this says that the way we are educating and raising people to be fit for life is failing us.
We can blame parenting and the school system – and yes, both aspects must shoulder some of the burden and accept fault for turning out people who don’t know how to do life – yet this would be a cop out for we as human beings have a deep inner knowing and wisdom that, if we were to tap into it, would teach us, guide us and show us how to live every day in a way that supports us to know the beauty and majesty that we come from and therefore are in essence. And so, here some humility is deeply required.
I admire families who raise their children to have qualities of worth and self-discipline, where there are strict boundaries, values and family rules that are to be adhered to, and without which our young and the adults we produce would be far more wayward and ill equipped than they already are.
However, the worrying trend is that we are no longer parenting our children. We are not raising them but simply allowing them to grow up and do their own thing under the guise of finding themselves and their purpose in life.
We are spoon feeding our kids the answers and creating a whole generation of people who have been imbued with what I call learnt helplessness, as they are unable and unwilling to make a decision because they are unsure what to do or terrified of making a mistake and being made to look stupid in a world where social acceptance and likes from our peers are worth more than honesty, decency and respect and being willing to give things a go.
Yes, we should be raising our children to have values and add value to the world, to be willing to do what is needed and then some because it serves the good of the customer and the company.
Our children should have self-discipline to know innately what is right and true, how to interact and behave and to be held and hold others as equal.
We should prepare our children to be creative, use their imagination, think outside the square, to have a point of view and be listened to when they offer it. We are all wise beyond our years and that wisdom does not come from age or experience but from connecting to that which is grander than us – the source we all come from.
Our children need to be able to observe and understand others and offer them space. This has been bastardised to be empathy, sympathy or the need for another to get it or to be tolerant of another. Understanding comes from reading the energy of and where another is at in their evolution, life lessons and unfoldment back to Soul, knowing that we all have different pasts (and past lives), that we are all evolving back to soul and that while some may delay eventually we all will return to the stupendous love and grandness we are all from.
We must be willing to dig deep and let out all that we are.
Push out of the comfort zone we are told – but as a humanity we are living a life in drive, stimulation and unrest, and nonetheless craving comfort, relief, reward and an elusive security, all the while delaying our return to love as it is easier to hold the status quo rather than stand out as being something different. Even though that different is our natural way of being – a way of being impulsed from Heaven and God.
So, what does all that have to do with being able to cope at work, deal with life and be a good employee?
Well, if we are raised to know who we are, the purpose of life, the purpose of work and service and the evolution we offer when living from our Soul, then life would not be a burden, it would be a joy! We would read life, front foot it and have a body that is vital, energised, observed and listened to. A body so deeply connected to Soul that we know how to respond rather than react and become victim to the hand that does not want us to know who we are and how to truly live life, so as to reflect all that God is as the face of the Soul on earth.
So here now as the owner of my dental practice, an employer of a team of great people with heaps of potential, I find myself parenting not only my own 13-year-old child but also my staff who range from 22 to 60 years of age. To reflect to them another way of being, to share with them what works for me and supports me, to bring understanding rather than frustration and to give them the space to unfold and develop. This so that when life comes at them they have a more solid foundation and a place to turn to seek support and clarity and thus unlock their own answers for what is needed of them to heal and go deeper. Or, if they choose, to remain in the pattern of their own creation until such time as they shift, or until they say, “I am unwilling to let this go and it is time to move on”.
No longer do I point the finger of blame or feel I have let my employees down for I have offered my wisdom, the reflection of my lived way, and know that this is there for them to access and call on, whenever they may revisit it in this life or the next.
It is our duty to parent not only our flesh and blood offspring but to parent all those we come into contact with, so that they know the truth of who they are through the lived reflection of another. And that for me is the purpose of my work – the purpose of all work and hence every aspect of our life is work, it is all one.
And hence if we raised our young to be fit for life they would also be fit for work. Fit to be able to work a 16-18 hour day if needed, and deal with the demands and pressures of a job as well as raising a family and all the other things we deal with in life.
For a life lived with purpose is inspiring. It is my fuel and my blessing to live for the all and all of us.