Bring Your Gift to Work

Seth Godin wrote in his latest book “Linchpin” of the gift of emotional labor, and this is the extract:

“When you do emotional labor, you benefit. Not just the company, not just your boss, but you. The act of giving someone a smile, of connecting to a human, of taking initiative, of being surprising, of being creative, of putting on a show – these are things that we do for free all our lives. And then we get to work and we expect to merely do what we’re told and get paid for it. This gulf creates tension. If you reserve your emotional labor for when you are off duty, but you work all the time, you are deprived of the joy you get when you do this labor. Now, you’re not giving gifts on duty, but you’re not off duty much at all. Spend eight or ten or twelve hours a day at work (not only in the office, but online or on the phone or in your dreams), and there’s not a lot of time left for the very human acts that make you who you are and who you want to be.”

Some of us may ask: “What do we get in return?” In most cases, we may get little in return. At least in terms of formal entries in our permanent file or bonuses in our year-end pay. But we do benefit. First, we benefit from the making and the giving. The act of the gift is in itself a reward. And second, we benefit from the response from those around us. When we develop the habit of contributing this gift, our coworkers become more open, our boss becomes more flexible, and our customers become more loyal.

“The essence of any gift, including the gift of emotional labor, is that you don’t do it for a tangible, guaranteed reward. If you do, it’s no longer a gift; it’s a job.”

How many of us bring this gift of life to work? Or, do we treat life like some kind of transaction that ‘we will only give if we know we will get something in return’? Or, do we abide by a scarcity mentality – ‘never giving, always taking’?

I know the reason for my being, is to enlarge the lives of others. And in this natural state of being, my life will be enlarged too, and all things I have been taught to concentrate on will take care of themselves.

Check in regularly. Be mindful of our thoughts (& reactions) whenever we are faced with situations in life (be it at work or elsewhere) that ask us to give our gifts…unconditionally.

Be spontaneous. Give…let if flow naturally.

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