I had an absolutely awful day at work last week. And I felt, “Shoot. My problem is that I care too much. I like getting a gold star. I like being appreciated. My caring for others, wanting them to care about me — This is my failing, my Achilles Heel. I should care less. I should be crabby. Then people will respect me. I will definitely get ahead if I am critical and negative in my job, instead of being caring and collaborative.”
My sister has said that she and I are alike, “We are just wired to care.” Then I saw that same expression – Wired to Care — in someone’s Twitter feed. So I followed the link to this lovely website, promoting a book by the same name. (And as I’ve mentioned on this blog, I like reading book reviews and visiting book blogs and yes, occasionally, I like reading books too!)
On this site, the author of the book , Dev Patnaik, talked about how corporations like Target and Ford have discovered that if their employees care about their customers, care about their products, care about one another, the workers are more productive. I’m sure the workplace is more pleasant. Why does the power of empathy surprise me?
My mouth hung open as I listened to Dev talk. I had to Google a management expert to be reminded that kindness and caring, these are not failings, these are assets. And companies like assets.
At St. John the Divine Church, about a year ago, I heard another lovely, smart person, Sharon Salzberg, talk about the Buddhist practice of Loving Kindness. In fact, she wrote a book called, “LovingKindness.” This is an excerpt:
I am glad there are authors and smart people promoting the practices of kindness and empathy in homes, schools, workplaces. It takes courage. And it affirms my way of being in the world, my way of caring too much. I have to admit that at times, I am afraid to be empathetic because my colleagues may see me as foolish or intellectually light-weight, neither of which I am. Should I turn cynical and critical to earn respect? I don’t know. I am trying to figure this all out.
Until I do, I will practice empathy and I will practice lovingkindness. It may not get me very far, but then, maybe it is about how you get there and not getting there. The journey and not the destination — And all that crap.