The Inner Cubicle

The Inner Cubicle

Work, in Seven Words (dedicated to Michael Pollan)


Michael Pollan famously summarized everything you should
know about eating in 7 words (in an article in the NY Times):  


Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.


Last week, after reading his latest book–Food Rules–I
realized that his simple, back-to-basics approach to food could also be applied
to work.  I spent the better part
of this morning developing my own précis of work wisdom. 


intuitively.  Almost everyday.  Rest deeply.


Let me explain why I chose these six words. 


Work Intuitively.  After I began working from home, I realized that I had been
working counter-intuitively–that is, against my own natural rhythms–for
decades. My former modus operandi at
work involved tackling my inbox first thing in the morning–instead of taking
some time out to conjure up new ideas, plan my day or read proposals while my
mind was relatively clear.  
Within an hour of being in the office, my head would be spinning, and
I’d be frustrated with the deluge of tasks and meetings I’d have to get through
before going home.  Now, whether
I’m working from the office, or my home-office, I try to organize my schedule
around my personal peaks and valleys–so that I’m maximizing my effectiveness,
and tailoring my day to my particular mood and energy level.


But working intuitively is about more than superb time- and
self-management.  It’s about using
your gray matter to do your soul’s work. 
It’s about taking your heart with you to the office everyday, and
knowing that it won’t ache for meaning and connection afterward.   It’s about doing work that counts, that is, work that will nudge
the world even one millimeter closer to inclusion, sustainability and
interconnectedness.  When you are doing work that you ought
to be doing, you intuit that all of it
matters, from the high-level strategy meetings down to the tiniest
administrative tasks.  I believe
this philosophy of work is contained in two simple words: Work intuitively.


Almost everyday.  I passionately believe that we should work nearly every day
because human beings thrive at work. 
Work gives us purpose.  It
brings us in contact with our natural gifts and talents.  It connects us to others.  It enables us to learn, and to grow.  We think we want more leisure, but what we really need is to work hard, in many different areas of our lives.


On some days, I need to work at building knowledge, so I
read, interview interesting people or attend a workshop.  On other days, I need to work at strengthening
my personal relationships and so I schedule plenty of time for meetings,
coaching and having honest conversations with colleagues and friends.   There are days when I need to work on my small garden, or my
cluttered closets.  I have days
when I need to work at being a better daughter, sister, mother or partner.   Each day brings a broad range of
opportunities to work at becoming more fully yourself, and more tightly
connected to those around you.  If
you work intuitively, almost everyday, I’m certain your life will add up to
something wonderful.


Rest Deeply. 
Resting is hard.  We think
that we’re well rested when we’ve gotten 7 or 8 hours of sleep.  But rest, like work, is complex and
layered.  True, our bodies need to
rest.  But so do our minds [That’s
why taking a day off work doesn’t count if you’re checking your blackberry
every 3 minutes.] 


And not only do we require mind and body rest, we need to
get rest in lots of different forms [not unlike the way our bodies craves
vitamins and gets them by eating fruits, vegetables, grains, fats and proteins.]  Sometimes we rest deeply by simply staring out the window of
a car, train or plane for hours on end. 
Deep rest might arrive after a long conversation or while sitting
silently in front of a setting sun. 
Sometimes we need to rest alone, and sometimes rest arrives in the arms
of another.  If we want to work
intuitively, almost everyday, we need to embrace the necessity of deep


Now that I’ve explained my 6-word synopsis on work, I’d like
to hear yours.  What six, or seven,
or eight word combination best sums up your philosophy of work? Email it to me,
with a brief explanation of why you chose each word, and I’ll try to feature as
many as I can in future posts.  You
can reach me at: 

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