For some, especially children, birthdays represent fun and attention. Later on they represent a coming of age i.e 18, or 21, but eventually they get you thinking about how fast life is going by. This same phenomenon can happen with money. For whatever reason you find yourself with a few extra bucks and next thing you know, its gone and you have no idea where it went. Projects at work come and go, individuals at work come and go, and even jobs themselves come and go. How can some of these moments be captured so we can look back and reflect? Many people are good at journaling life events and most of us take pictures to chronicle life as it goes by. How important are markers of time and what significance do these markers have on a work environment?
The most important possessions in our house are jars of sea glass. Often you will find any combination of the five people in my family walking on the beach looking for sea glass. My wife and I treasure each piece and their value to us grows as the kids get older. These pieces of sea glass represent so many conversations, intimate moments, teaching opportunities, arguments, and yes, even puberty discussions. These pieces in a large part, represent time spent with my wife and children walking through life; time spent developing and growing relationships. There is one major lesson life is teaching me as I age – time is short. 21 year olds don’t get this, 44 year olds barely understand, and 80 year olds really know how to sit and enjoy an evening breeze like it might be their last. With life being so short, thinking of work as something that is in the way of real life, meaning your family and friends, takes years away from an already short existence.
Let’s assume we all understand that life is too short not to enjoy it at work as well as at home and at play. How would your workplace look differently if you hung pictures of both your family and your work-friends? One of the initiatives my team at work is launching this year is a wall of fame. Every member of our team has developed a personal and professional bio as well as a brand statement. Marketing is helping us make them look pretty and adding a picture. We are going to frame these pieces and hang them all over the department to celebrate those we work with. We have a few other markers hanging on the walls but there is much room for improvement in this area. When people leave their picture will remain because when we walk around we want to remember their impact. When new people come, they will develop and bio and brand statement, take a picture, and we will hang that on the wall. The other items that get hung on the wall to be reflected on are the charities that we support either financially or through events. Pictures of events and thank you letters from charities strewn about the walls create a culture of togetherness, a great asset to your organization, especially when great challenges are faced.
We haven’t figured out how to mirror the sea glass jars yet at work, but we’ll work on it. Maybe after any team members go out to lunch together, they can bring back something from the restaurant. After a period of time there will no doubt be jars filled with something to represent all that time spent together developing and growing relationships and one day we will sit on a porch on a breezy evening and reflect on how important they were.