Changing My Work Environment

My vow for kosen-rufu continues to provide me with a reliable steering wheel to determine the best direction for my life. - Ananda Gautami

Last Sunday I went to the SGI General Director’s lecture. He spoke about his work situation, how last year he found himself in an increasingly toxic work environment with rampant bullying and back-stabbing. He started to pray to somehow be able to use his beliefs, abilities and values to contribute at work in the best way, somehow, whether it was this job or another one.

Earlier this week I went to a new group meeting. A new member, a young woman, was asking questions about how she wants to grow in her career and finds that she’s stagnated in her current job in what she can learn and where she can go. She had been praying to find a new job but hadn’t found it yet, how should she pray about it.

Her words and attitude reminded me of my old self – that saw a ladder to be climbed and how I had a path in my mind and if my life or my career didn’t match that path, I was somehow not doing my best or failing.

No, I didn’t burst her bubble. I tried to relate from my own experience. I saw she was stuck in the mindset of what the job is giving her rather than what she is contributing.

This conversation flowed into a self-reflection for me. I realised that I had not been praying about my job situation. When I asked myself whether I was able to contribute from my best self and whether I was expanding my contribution in the best way, or had I become complacent and was going along with the status quo? Funnily enough all of this coincided with events at work.

I work in 2 projects at work – project A and project B.
I have been working on project A since July 2018. Initially it was just a relief from having gotten out of the last toxic project and away from Mike. Thereafter, there were many struggles and challenges in the project, but sometimes great support too. Since Feb 2019, I have been working on this project 3 days per week, devoting the rest of my time on project B.

Project A has a wonderful potential for impact. However, it is led by quite a narrow minded person, who while great as an individual, is not cut out to be a leader of that kind of a project. I found that either I was stuck in coaching him, which was like teaching this white man to do my job because he wanted to show he was ready for a promotion to become a superior. I also found his general apathy and lack of understanding quite demotivating. When I tried to help him understand about my job and my domain, it was met with eery silence, not even a conversation let alone action. It is my good fortune that my manager saw an opportunity in project B and found a way for me to contribute to it.

Project B has a wonderful team of warm and competent people. They don’t understand my job but let me take the lead in what I am doing. They are keen to understand what I do and are able to provide feedback on my approach. They are supportive, positive people who take action. They got me out of my desk in the dungeon in a day where I had been suffering due to isolation and lack of any windows for 7 months.

Last week, project A folks wanted me to move my desk with them into another small cramped room. Initially I had agreed but soon I realised that I did not want to go. I asked my team lead in project B to block the move. He never got around to it, even though I reminded him a couple of times. Ultimately, I realised I needed to take responsibility for this myself. Two days before the scheduled move, I emailed the team and thanked them for their thoughtfulness. I said that on second thoughts, I want to stay where I am because it enables me to balance my contribution to both projects; that I was happy to provide support to manage for the inconvenience my decision may have caused. I stayed where I was.

Nobody even replied to my email to acknowledge it. There was just another email telling the facilities to cancel the move.

In my 1-1 with the project A team lead last week, he asked me if I was happy, he said that they were missing my presence and now that they were in a crucial execution phase I was needed. I told him I have been providing updates and opening up the channel of communication, but I never have any proactive communication. He asked me to be more proactive and I agreed to try harder. I thanked him for his feedback. I told him I was happy with both my projects, one with the impact and the other with the learning.

When I stepped away from this conversation, I talked to my teammates in project B about what had just happened. They both echoed that it sounds like they needed a person in another role to plan the delivery rather than someone working in my capacity.

I wrote a prayer for myself –

“I pray for a job or a project having a healthy work environment, a lofty purpose – beauty, benefit and good that enables me to expand my contribution to society, my professional area, my teams and kosen rufu. In my role, I continue to have all the good things I enjoy in my current position plus more to enable me to bring out the best in myself and my team so that I can demonstrate the validity of this practice to all those struggling with career growth in Australia and beyond. – 3 Jul’19”

As I chanted, I realised that I felt anxious in small meetings in project A because of the team lead’s attitude. I had found a way of not reacting to it but I had no reason to continue to expose myself to it as much. I was also conflicted about whether I was escaping the situation and did I instead need to have more dialogue. I realised that I had been trying to have a dialogue for the last 10 months and it hadn’t gotten anywhere.

I remembered what the psychic had told me a couple of months ago – “I deserve… better.”.

By the end of the week, I had talked to my manager and team in project B who are keen for me to work full-time. I have now moved to this project 3 days a week, limiting my involvement on the other one to 2 days a week. Having been involved in goal definition for project A, I find that I have set it on the right path. I find that it is evolving slowly and who knows where it will go. However, I have to respect my own evolution and journey and grow my ability to expand my contribution to the world.

On the other hand, in project B, my team lead reminded me to not worry about work ahead of my travel next week, to not let this project be a factor that adds to my stress. Very powerful words, huge protection that helped me relax and focus on creating more value. So thankful for this team in my life!

I am determined to find an even better way forward by 3 July’19 that is Mentor-Disciple Day. Given that my current projects so far have visibility only until end of June 2019, I am ok to wait for this time. Focus on my prayer, growth and health, while chanting for the new horizon to open up!

The key to figure out what the right decision for me was to check-in – what enables me to contribute from my best self, what enables me to expand my contribution. My vow for kosen-rufu continues to provide me with a reliable steering wheel to determine the best direction for my life. Thank you Nichiren Daishonin, President’s Makiguchi, Toda and Ikeda for bringing this philosophy to me!

Looking forward to what reveals itself… with calm conviction, determination and optimism.

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