Death Valley is the hottest place in the United States. Some would consider it dead, nothing grows there at all.
In the winter of 2004 it rained.
Turns out Death Valley wasn’t dead. It was dormant. All it needed was the right conditions, in this case - water.
Dormancy is flooding our country – our corporations, schools, political centers, not-for-profit organizations, and artist communities. 30% of kids in the US don’t make it through high school. In some communities this figure is as high as 50%. Native Americans sometimes 80%. Suicide rates are extraordinarily high, especially from ages 15 to 30. With these dramatic statistics, you can’t simply blame the individuals. There is something wrong with our systems, they’re failing us.
This said, If Death Valley can come to life, can't we? Sir Ken Robinson teaches:
Gardner and farmers know how to make things grow. Organic things do the growing IF the conditions are right. If they are wrong, nothing will grow. Different things grow in different places because the conditions are different. The secret is to customize to the local conditions, one person at a time.
What are your growth conditions?
Everyone has huge potential; it’s our job as individuals to get it out so we can grow. We can all blame the system or tackle this problem, as Sir Ken Robinson suggests, one person at a time.
Here are some workplace conditions worth considering that we, as employees, often overlook:
- Time: is your brain most active in the morning or the evening?
- Light: do you come alive with more or less natural light?
- Color: do you crave bright colors, calming colors, or black and white walls?
- Space: narrow or wide, what environment tunes you into your most creative self?
- Noise: do you need a coffee house buzz or silence to crank out work?
- Traffic: does human interaction consistently inspire or derail you?
- Position: do you get antsy sitting for more than an hour? ever tried writing standing up (even the treadmill desk exists!)?
You’d be surprised at how your boss reacts when you ask him or her to choose between life, dormancy or death! Your requests are inexpensive when compared to turnover costs (death). A current Vice President of Human Resources at Citibank recently requested a move to another floor filled with more natural light. Three months later she reported feeling, "70% happier at work, I can't believe the difference in how I feel everyday."
Instead of blaming your company, go get clear on your growth conditions. And then request that seat by the window, time to write in the morning, and an opportunity to take calls standing. If Death Valley can blossom, so can you!