Am I My Brother’s Keeper?

That’s the question, and the answer depends a lot on how you fit into the larger context of the world. Whether you believe that the world works better with collaboration or independent action—or a combination of both.

 Self-Sufficiency/Independence

These are often words used when we’re in a view that each of us is separate, not only from all others but from all things, and even from ourselves. It’s also often the jargon of the “money-world,” where the only thing of value is money. In this world view, we exist as solitary beings who can rely on no one but ourselves.  Everything we accomplish is separate from what everyone else accomplishes. We tend to hoard our resources because we believe that it’s up to us to help ourselves. We imagine that we are on our own, that it’s all up to us alone and that everything we achieve is created by us alone. On the other hand, we appreciate being able to accomplish and earn and make things happen in the world. This view is useful for some aspects of life.

 Collaboration/Unity

In another world view, we all are energies fluidly flowing in and around in all directions. There’s a sense that we, as a whole, have everything, nothing is lacking. All is provided. Sometimes, it’s provided by “my” effort, sometimes by “yours.”  Sometimes by synchronistic happenstance. For example, when I was a lot younger, driving 40 miles to work and 40 back every day for little pay, my car kept breaking down. It was finally on its last legs. I felt scared and alone. Suddenly, out of the blue, I got a call from my parents. They figured I’d probably need a car and they wanted to buy one for me! I hadn’t told them anything about my situation.

Or how often does it happen that you suddenly think about somebody that hasn’t crossed your mind for ages and they call that day? Or you’ve got plans with somebody and you’re so stressed with everything you have to do that you’d just like a few hours to relax and that person calls and cancels? This could make us think that we’re all connected somehow, that we’re part of a larger unity. This view is also very useful in life, and is another kind of self-sufficiency—the self sufficiency of being part of the larger whole.

 A Different Kind of Self-Sufficiency

This kind of self-sufficiency requires awareness and integrity.  It requires that, rather than thinking of myself only as an individual person, I also identify as the larger whole. This is a feeling that inner and outer is one. The “I” that I’m identifying with also includes everyone else. If one part of the larger “Me” is hurting, all of us know it and help it.  If one part is doing too much, all of us know it and make it easy for that part to rest.  This combines independence and collaboration.

For example, when you’re aware of the larger “Me,” you notice what you need and don’t need. If someone who is overly generous wants to give you something, you think of them as part of a larger “You,” wanting to give something to another part of the larger You and you help them out by letting them keep it.

In this world view, we are a huge network of umbilical cords, where everyone is connected to everyone and everything else.  You can’t cut them, because then the whole system dies.  And why would you want to?  That’s so lonely.  This doesn’t mean that we don’t “lead our own lives.”  It does mean that we are aware of what we are and what we can give and what others give and we intertwine with the giving and the receiving.  Some people are good at money and some are good at atmosphere or love or light or joy or relationship or discernment.  In the money-world, only money is “something” and everything else is just taken for granted.  In the collaborative world, everything is “something”—miraculous, precious and treasured.

For more on Relationships, more on Group Dynamics, and also my posts on Self-Acceptance (scroll down to get to the past posts after this current one).

Organizations Work Better With Clear Roles and Responsibilities

healing-stress-healing-traumaIn spite of sometimes disastrous consequences for businesses and organizations, it’s amazing how often they miss creating clear roles and responsibilities for their employees. There are many reasons for this, one big one being that there’s just so much to do merely to stay on track that taking the time to create written, clear job descriptions seems like a waste of time. It’s not, though.

 Organizational Effectiveness

Creating clear roles and responsibilities for every employee, from the CEO on down, usually greatly improves efficiency and effectiveness. You reduce redundancy—two or more people working on parts of the same projects without coordinating. You decrease things falling through the cracks, where people assume someone else is doing something and so fail to do it themselves. You decrease the chance of conflicts, where several people or departments feel they have the power to make certain decisions or allocate certain amounts of manpower or funds to the same areas. You increase the chances that the organization stays on a clear path to fulfilling its vision and mission and doesn’t go on costly side-tracks. You even decrease personality conflicts.

 How to Create Clear Roles and Responsibilities

Here are some requirements to creating clear roles and responsibilities:

  1. Do an analysis of the kinds of roles and responsibilities the organization needs to thrive.
  2. Do an analysis of the kinds of people that would be competent or even talented at fulfilling these roles and responsibilities.
  3. Be aware of who is already employed at the organization, in which positions they are employed, and whether their personalities, skills and/or talents match their positions. If they don’t currently have the skills, think about whether they can reasonably be trained to acquire them, and how many resources would be required. It’s often beneficial to an organization—and to organizational morale—to keep people with a history in the organization instead of hiring new people to fill positions.
  4. Write down very detailed and specific areas of responsibility, limits of power, and tasks to be performed.
  5. Delegate these areas of responsibility to specific departments and, within them, to specific people.
  6. Create a “water-tight” structure to enforce and follow up, to ensure that those departments and specific individuals are given the authority to fully take on their areas of responsibility, that no one can sabotage their work by doing end-runs around them or supersede their authority, and that there is regular oversight to make sure that the individuals tasked with areas of responsibility know how to do their work and are doing it efficiently and effectively.

Wishing you–and your organization–a free and joyous life,

Zoe