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Fully aligned and wholehearted

I recently came upon an article by poet David Whyte written some time back where he spoke about being exhausted one day after work. A friend of his, a Benedictine monk, joined him for dinner that evening and said the cure for exhaustion is not necessarily rest but working wholeheartedly. David dropped his day job and became a poet.

That may not work for the majority of us, but I offer up something to ponder: What if we as leaders could create a workspace where people participate fully aligned with our vision and work wholeheartedly toward it? What would we need to clean up in our businesses to get there?

This is not woo-woo stuff. Certainly productivity, profitability and service levels would soar. I work with teams all the time to uncover a truer identity — one that is a customer magnet and a rallying point for employees.

When people believe they are working for something greater than pushing your “burger” all kinds of great cultural shifts get into motion. 

My current livelihood is as a freelance hotel “guru.” I optimize the profitability of ordinary and even great hotels in terms of all the metrics that matter to them. While it is not fiscally responsible for me to give away my economic resource here, I can give you a few hints:

  • Take a criticism holiday with your employees. (Either that or book a guilt trip.)
  • Reserve displays of anger for a tennis match. 
  • Treat people like the gifts they are. If they don’t measure up, regift them!
  • Dump benchmarking from your vocabulary. It kills creativity.
  • Start thinking big and about what might sound ridiculous. That’s where greatness comes from. At a resort I recently stayed at, they shuttle people to their rooms on a golf cart. Why use a cart when an elephant might do — may sound ridiculous, but it serves up questioning ordinary transportation. Trade down from an elephant rather than tick up from a golf cart.
  • If it’s been done before, take a pass.
  • Alignment — get your people to love you even if they don’t always agree with you.
  • Creativity isn’t for those “other people.” Everyone is a visionary with the right leader — or guru.

WHOLEHEARTED: Completely and sincerely devoted, determined or enthusiastic; marked by complete earnest commitment; free from all reserve or hesitation.

Who wouldn’t want more of that? All in favor say, “Aligned.”

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