Is your organization ready for a culture that values the whole person?

Lisa Frank

Mar 27, 2022

What transforms when we "go to work"? What changes, adaptations, compromises do we unconsciously make? What expectations of others do we bring with us? Which aspects of ourselves do we leave behind? Why is this and does it have to be this way?

I wonder how many of us unknowingly compartmentalize ourselves and others. On our own time, we may play music, sculpt, or write stories. We may compete at sports, renovate houses, or tend a garden. At one time, we may have studied sociology or history. Yet, when we come to work, we leave much behind as either something we do at home, with friends, as a hobby, or something we did or pursued back then at school. We think, "Oh well," (for the talents, hobbies, or passions), "I need a job." Many of us think of a job as something separate from the rest of our lives, even when the job holds meaning for us. But, does it have to be that way and is it best for the individual or the business?

What if "work" could became a place of expansion, a place where the whole person is embraced, where passions and interests are nurtured and expressed, and not just skills? I'm not saying businesses should set up a dedicated area for arts and crafts (though I'm not saying not to), but I am suggesting the creative mindset or cross-disciplinary knowledge or approach be invited into the room. What better natural source for innovation and creative thinking?

When we value the entire person, when we find the connections between passions and profession, there may be a higher likelihood that the whole person will show up and contribute! The more fully we are able to step into and express who we truly are without fear, the happier and more fulfilled we become, and the more positive and productive the workplace becomes. We feel safer to express thoughts and ideas that can lead to unexpected paths and solutions.

What could this look like? Imagine a team member who is also an avid gardener. How often have we spoken of "planting a seed" or "nurturing the sapling for a tree we may never see"? What other wisdom could this member contribute from their knowledge of soil mixture or plant diversity, not to mention the planning, patience, and dedication required to create a garden?

Each person, whether or not they have a hobby, skill, or area of study, can contribute a unique perspective, if the soil is fertile, i.e., if the environment is one of safety, acceptance, and valuing the entirety of the person. The question is, are you willing to create that environment?