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 Helping Managers and Salespeople Thrive in Turbulent Times Vol. 1, #10, December 2003 
in this issue
  • Although It's Been Said
  • About Jim Schaffer & Associates

  • Greetings!

    This month we discuss how to find tidings of comfort and joy in a workplace that generally offers neither.

    Just click "reply" to send along your comments at any time.

    Best regards,

    Jim Schaffer
    President, Jim Schaffer & Associates

    Although It's Been Said

    Many times; many ways. Lyrics from America's most famous secular Christmas song. I say secular because it's really not about anyone's religion. The song, written by Jewish jazz singer Mel Torme, is about finding comfort. It's Nat Cole's voice enveloping you like your favorite flannel bathrobe. It's all the Leave It To Beaver fantasies you've ever had about hearth and home and being loved and cared for, rolled into a single song.

    That comfort is in especially short supply in the business world these days. Not that it was so much it more benevolent in the bygone era when Nat and Karen Carpenter originally crooned the song. But it was a lot slower around this time of year. There was no email or voice mail, so if your customers chose not to return the calls scribbled on pink "While You Were Out" sheets by their secretaries, you just didn't get to communicate with them until January. Substance abuse had not been identified as a major problem and clients were still allowed to accept gifts. At the very least — there was a lot more partying going on.

    These days, with our Indy 500 approach to work, comfort becomes even more elusive during the holiday season. People just don't have time to slow down. In my travels these past months I have discovered a curious thing: though many people are still struggling, quite a few have actually had great years according to the numbers. Yet even the prosperous among us aren't reporting great feelings of joy and accomplishment. Most of us are just plain tired.

    As we fatigue, we lose our spirit and energy and, even if we're making money, getting anything close to a warm, fuzzy feeling from our accomplishments and our colleagues seems like something beyond even the holidays' reach.

    So how, then, does one find comfort in today's workplace? Ironically, the best way is to have it come back to you as a result of what you put out in the universe. In our private lives, we frequently forget ourselves as we minister to the needs of others: our children, aging parents, friends in need. Only later and quite unexpectedly, do we often experience feelings of comfort and joy washing over us.

    There is no reason we can't approach work in this manner, as well.

    Here are some things to keep in mind this holiday season as you seek to soothe yourself at work:

    1. Show Appreciation. Forget email. Phone calls or short handwritten notes on "From the desk of" tablets or nice cards are even better than presents. I have several such notes of appreciation from former bosses and clients that have remained in my office for 20 years, while my sales awards are stashed in a box in the basement.
    2. Be Of Service. Most of us were raised in our spiritual traditions to think of service as something we do for the poor, the sick and the homeless. Metaphorically, that applies to most people in Corporate America today. Despite what the self-help books say about learning to say no, the path to comfort lies in helping others. Look for ways both big and small.
    3. Stay Open. Discomfort is primarily a thought, which passes. By observing closely and not judging what you experience, you may even find humor in the things that are making you uncomfortable at work (ah — unrealistic expectations from my boss — I can recognize that — how strange and interesting!).

    4. Find the Light and Carry It With You. This is the season of warm, glowing light. Whether you absorb it from your Christmas tree, your fireplace, the Menorah you kindle, or a meditation candle, take the warmth of that light and carry it into the workplace. Other people will absorb your glow and reflect it back to you in ways that will bring you the comfort you seek.

    Despite the songs chiming out to us from the airwaves, we're not going to find a lot of comfort just handed to us out there. Each moment, though, contains a choice of how we're going to act and how we're going to feel, even in the face of fear. Comfort, ultimately, is not something we will receive, but a quality we create in our hearts.

    So, although it's been said many times, many ways, I prefer to approach work this season with the wisdom of two young disciples of the Mahirishi Mahesh Yogi, John Lennon and Paul McCartney:

    "And in the end, the love you take
    is equal to the love you make."

    Save me a glass of low-cholesterol eggnog!

    For more on the Mahirishi, click here

    About Jim Schaffer & Associates

    Jim Schaffer & Associates helps management teams & salespeople stay focused, get results and keep high morale — regardless of what may be going on around them.

    Copyright 2003 by Jim Schaffer & Associates.

    To subscribe to this newsletter, simply send an email with your request to: jim@jimschaffer.com.


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