It’s early in the morning in Sydney. Spring has just begun; the air is chilled and slightly humid. I’m walking towards St Leonards railway station on my way to our client’s office. I hear new strange sounds, chirping birds. It otherwise feels very familiar and right, as if it was meant to be. Like a puzzle slowly falling into place. I can’t just yet see the big picture but I know it’s right and I know I’m moving in the right direction.
Some streets remind me of California with the mix of palm trees and flower bushes while the train stations remind me of the UK. The brick walls and layout radiate a distinct English feel. I’m here at the other end of the world, yet it all seams so similar, the new reality of an international era. It seems we’re losing a sense of uniqueness, losing a piece of heritage, a soon to be uniform “global culture”, the sad reality of globalization.
As I walk towards our client’s office campus, I once more hear a loud and strange noise. I look up and see a large white parrot perched at the top of one of the buildings. A beautiful sight, not something you would see everywhere. The architecture is modern yet well blended with the environment.
It’s now lunch time and head out for one of the campus restaurants. I pick up sautéed basil chicken with rice and we head for one of the gardens. There’s a live musician just across from our table. I’m told this is how it is every Wednesday. Live music, good restaurants, nice gardens, and an architecture that you would only expect to see from a modern museum. Yet, this is a corporate campus, where thousands of employees come to work everyday.
The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines value, in two instances, as “a fair return or equivalent in goods, services, or money for something exchanged”, and “relative worth, utility, or importance”.
The key word here, in my opinion, is “relative”. What is valuable for one person may be entirely worthless to another person. Furthermore, value is also dependant on context. An object you find valuable in your workplace may be irrelevant in a personal setting. However, the concept of value is universal. No matter whom you are and where you are, the concept of valuing a service or an object is omnipresent.
Furthermore, what’s important to realize is that valuation principles in your personal life may also apply in your workplace. In your personal life, your surrounding will value you if you make them happy, if you simplify their lives, complement them, or have something to offer them. However, it important to realize that this also applies to the workplace. If your behavior makes your boss’ life difficult, if you become a management challenge, or if you’re seen as a person that radiates negativity, chances are you won’t be valued in the workplace no matter how well you perform and how skilled you may be. After all, even if in the workplace it’s sometimes easy to forget we’re all emotional beings (some places more than others), we are indeed human and sensitive to such factors. Talking from personal experience, to a certain extent, it’s important to come out of this dark little place and step up your game.
There are other factors surrounding the concept of value, and that may be somewhat outside of your control, that can impact your personal and professional life. What happens when your workplace has put you in a position where it is ever more difficult to demonstrate how valuable you are? What happens then?
We were at a restaurant, waiting at the cash to pay for our meal. My 5 year old son notices on the counter the statue of a “funny” looking man, sitting with his legs crossed and his fat tummy exposed for the world to see. “Mommy, who’s that”? It’s Buddha, the Chinese “Fat Buddha” , answered my wife. “Who’s Boda?” he then responds.
As we were driving on our way back home, unsatisfied with our initial answer, our son kept asking questions about this strange man. Who is he, where is he from, what does he do, is he alive? And the questions kept coming. Unable to keep up with his questions, we changed course and headed to the bookstore to find a book that would have the proper answers. We headed for the “Religion” section at Indigo, started browsing through the books and eventually found Buddha, His Life and His Teaching, by Walter Henry Nelson. We weren’t looking for a spiritual guide, or a “western-washed” version of Budhism, but rather simply looking for a book that could help our son, and ourselves for that matter, better understand where he comes from and get a glimpse of the journey that lead to a man’s becoming of the Buddha.
In the end it turned out to be a wonderful book that has inspired me in many ways. I’ve always been an advocate for self-control, balance, and self-perfection, and this book has fueled my passion and desire to pursue the endless journey of self-perfection. It has also made me further realize the importance of living in the moment, of being aware of yourself, your environment and of others.