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I read a very interesting post from a financial expert about happiness in the workplace. It showed that only about 50% of our workforce is happy with their employment. Even less are actually engaged at work.
We all have to work. Work is good for us, our communities, and our world. Most of us end up as employees within some corporation, where we are programmed to compete and rise to the top.
Organizations cannot rise to a very high level of consciousness. This is because an organization must always be looking out for its own best interest. Self interest is inherent in any organization that seeks to stay an organization. Corporations place higher value on those employees that look out for the best interest of the company and this correlates with the rise to the top. As one moves up in leadership, their stake in the company goes with them.
Within each organization, some employees are more “in” than others. They drink the corporate Kool-Aid. The more a person drinks, the more beloved they are by the organization and lose commonality with those who drink less.
Corporations divide people by necessity based on Kool-Aid consumption.
Colleagues that are promoted to leadership begin to morph under new interpersonal dynamics. We call it office politics. It’s a game of managing innies and outies. People with high consciousness usually do well, while those without interpersonal radar usually blow things up.
Corporate Kool-Aid is the same at all start-ups, non-profits, ministries, small businesses, churches, religions and huge corporations. The Bible calls this “The World.” The term refers to systems of power, control, government, or leadership. (Matt 4:8, Luke 4:5, John 1:10, 1 John 2:15-16) Because these political systems are everywhere the term used is “Cosmos.”
Systems of power (corporate Kool-Aid) gives people an identity? They’re powerful because they give people a life. These systems incubate our over-inflated egos. We think we want the title, the power, the income, or options that come with more power. Below the surface, we really want validation, acceptance, and approval. The Kool-Aid gives us a synthetic version, but not the real thing.
Those who realize their identity doesn’t come from their work (world) are actually free to do really good work. Those who need the company to define themselves are trapped in a cycle of striving, effort and output as they chase an ever deferring satisfaction.
The reason people are unhappy at work is because they are not free. Organizations can only give us pseudonyms. They are stingy and only recognize the few. We can’t be happy if we don’t know who we really are.
People long to be free and suffer under the weight of compliance but the answer is not to blame corporations or capitalism or business. The answer isn’t to quit and go into radio silence either.
Make no mistake, corporate Kool-Aid IS RELIGION! Everything we see, taste, use and touch has a CEO. All things have a system of self-interest. Each vying for talent that gives it advantage in our competitive world. Like religion, the world gives its constituents a (false) identity, a means of life, and some measure of purpose. It requires we place our faith in it. All organizations are institutions of faith.
Unhappiness really sets in when we realize we cannot escape the Kool-Aid. Even a lottery winning cannot save us from all the worldly systems. The homeless panhandler and the executive must both sustain and protect their existence by dependence on the system. It can all seem like a chasing after the wind (Ecclesiastes 1:14).
Are we just slaves to the grind?
Freedom is possible, but not by evacuation or Lotto. Freedom comes from the inside. Our identity is not found at work. Our doing does not create our being! Freedom comes when we switch from the system to what Jesus called the kingdom.
The system (world, religion, Kool-Aid) is easy to spot because it operates from the outside-in. It has many rules to control behaviors and runs of duty, ambition, exclusivity.
The Kingdom is inside-out. It has one rule, to love as we are loved. To know others as we are known. This produces the best of our humanity. We become free because we are not competing for an identity, we are just US.
If you’re suffering, tormented or depressed at work, then you’ve had too much Kool-Aid. Try surrendering all outcomes at a soul level. You’ll feel something resist you, argue, but eventually it dies. Don’t quit your dream, quit the system’s means to your dream. Create a spaciousness for a new ending to your dream. You’ll immediately start moving with the wind (pneuma) and experience FLOW.
We can now work within any system and make each one incrementally better. The world becomes free once we become free. Free people are happy.
Freedom is to be in the world and not of the world.