The illusion that human beings will get any form of happiness and well-being from outside themselves is responsible for most of, not only the poor performance we experience in the workplace and other areas but, the general suffering and lack of fulfilment in the workplace also. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gw1I7fqmxmA).
This video might be a long shot, but I urge you to watch it so that we may be on the same page.
When I look back and think about growing up in the village, I realise that the best place to go back to was home. We did all the playing and enjoyed ourselves but the time always came when we needed to withdraw to our homes.
We also ran back to our homes when we got into conflict with other kids, especially older or stronger ones we found difficult to put up a fight with. We would run home and got there panting for breath.
In that state of panting, we would feel safe and if that stronger boy had given chase, once inside the home fence, we would feel strong and tell off the stronger boy.
We would do so with the feeling that we were safe because our uncles were there, and so was granny who would always come out to defend and protect her grandchildren. Affectionately known as Nde, gogo would pick up anything she could lay her hand on and chase the other boy threatening to bit them up for wanting to hurt her grandchildren.
This was home, our place of refuge and our safe space. We also loved the food we got from home.
No matter how enjoyable play time was with the other kids, we would always go back home to eat because there was no food where we played. The food we prepared using leaves and mud was not real and we knew it as kids that it was not the real thing, and because we played close to home, the aroma from our kitchens was too good to be replaced by the soil we cooked and called food. And so, when the aroma invited us and we heard the sounds of pots and plates we just dropped the tins we used as pots and plates and ran home like Pavlovian dogs to eat.
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There was something deeply alluring about home, and as kids, we just could not resist the pull.
There was also the feeling of rest we felt after playing. We knew, instinctively that there was a place to accommodate us safely when we were tired of our illusory play homes outside. When the feeling sleepy hit us, we remembered home and just went home to sleep.
We were even tempted to sleep without taking a bath because all we wanted was to rest and the best place for that was home, and sometimes on our mothers’ or grannies’ lap. We would just fall asleep and wake up refreshed for the next day. In all our playing and other activities, there was a place called home that gave us hope and revitalisation and I realise now how much we all need that even as adults.
Why am I telling my village home stories of childhood when this column is about re-imagining the workplace? Well, my theme today is finding that place of happiness we all need in this life to regroup and be grounded and the only metaphor I found in my memory was home.
I am hoping that I may, within a short space of time, be able to plant curiosity and hopefully some action in your mind and body. Is there a safe place that revitalises you and regroups you for work and other activities in life?
For most of us our reality changes when we become adults and home becomes a different place. Most adults would then spend most of their lives avoiding home and coming back only to sleep and wake up to escape again.
They go on a new search for something like home and find false ones such as alcohol abuse, sport and other things. Many go on holiday with the belief that they will find revitalisation there only to come back thirstier and wanting something closer home.
Some even become workaholics but with no real fulfilment because that quest for home never dies.
I am aware also that many go to faith places with the hope to find that warm place called home with mommy and granny’s lap to lay their heads on. Quite a good number of those who go to church come back with negative testimonies, still thirsty for the warmth of home.
I recall talking to one wonderful personal mastery coach called Sonia and her saying to me that the day God became viewed as something to go to for help, there was a deep disconnection between God and man. She said that God is more fulfilling when we go into him and not when we go to him. Eckhart Tolle calls it creating duality in faith, where there is God and you.
Jesus confirmed it when he said him, and his father were one. One can safely conclude here that we spend our lives looking for home, God or happiness outside when he is right inside us wishing to express himself through us. We chase happiness and performance when happiness is right here with us.
How then does one go home? To that beautiful place I described earlier where we found rest, good food and safety. Some religions have generally condemned some of the most effective ways of going to that place that feels like home, which is inside us. Inward, is where home is, and the only way out is in (Oscar Wilde). If I manage to at least get you thinking dear reader about finding real happiness inside yourself, I would have achieved one of my greatest desires because once that happiness is found, many organisations will perform much better without exposing themselves to ill health and burnout.
I know of a number of grounding practices that take you inside, where happiness is found and some of the main ones are meditation, yoga, prayer, closing one’s eyes, positive quotient reps, chewing mindfully, bathing mindfully, feeling your aliveness inside your body, gratitude, listening to the ambience around you, looking at a tree in its stillness without judgement, watching your breath with your eyes closed, rubbing two fingers against each other with such attention that you feel your finger tip ridges.
All these take you in and right there, inside is home. Home is happiness, home is who you are and when you come to know who you are, you have arrived home where you find happiness and when you find happiness, you have found performance and your work is healed. You are ready! Any questions please?
- Bhekilizwe Bernard Ndlovu’s training is in human resources training, development and transformation, behavioural change, applied drama, personal mastery and mental fitness. He works for a Zimbabwean company as human capital executive, while also doing a PhD with Wits University where he looks at violent strikes in the South African workplace as a researcher. Ndlovu worked as a human resources manager for several blue-chip companies in Zimbabwe and still takes keen interest in the affairs of people and performance management. He can be contacted on [email protected]