Altruism at work

A clear reason why will we be unhappy if we work or study or live in an atmosphere of constant competitiveness and have no common goals, no kindness or no compassion towards each other.

My happiest memories of work are with people who believed in inclusiveness, learning and mutual growth. I have worked in organizations that promoted competition between peers and all level of colleagues with the intention of producing some striking work. It never really appealed to me. Rather than constantly thinking will I feature in the monthly list of “creative individuals,” I was more focused on getting the job done and doing it without any error. And that, in no way meant, that I wasn’t creative or successful. For me, work was never about the spotlight.

One of the most amazing feelings when you are a part of team is helping someone who is junior (hierarchy wise) to you, succeed or aiding them in doing what they want. I felt crazy amount of bliss when I did that. In fact, one of my biggest concerns when I had a team was that I couldn’t spend much time helping them grow. I loved spending whatever time I could helping others. It wasn’t about taking on extra work. It was more about learning from someone else and helping someone else learn. An exchange of knowledge and ideas. Human interaction that helps creative people grow, achieve new levels of creativity and do awesome work. And competitiveness is a complete antithesis of that.

Recognition is a temporary result of good work. We work in teams. While giving out accolades, pointing out one single person is creating an atmosphere of potential hostility between team mates. I have so many times heard people say, “It was team work,” when they have been awarded something. And so many times I wanted to ask everyone in that team, did it really feel like team work? Did you help someone grow or were you more concerned about being better than the rest in that team? Common goals unite us. There is so much discord when everyone is trying to be better than the other. No wonder people like me hate working in teams.

It is the unsung work. Things that people don’t notice. Like taking time to help someone do better, making a cup of coffee for a colleague who is struggling, buying someone lunch. And sometimes, it is the big things that you do without expectations like double checking a piece of work, proactively making sure there are no glitches, foreseeing disasters. And then there are massive things like ensuring a calm day. It is this stuff that made me feel great about the work I did. These moments were what made working-job-employment worthwhile for me.

And frankly, in retrospect, it didn’t matter if recognition came or came late. It took me a while but I made peace with my priorities. The smiles I shared with my team, the trust and rapport from clients and knowing I did my best was much more to me than award at the end of a month.

I saw this video today and realised why was there such level discontent in me when I worked in the environment I mention above. It explained to me the reason why I couldn’t feel at ease or happy even when things were seemingly good. And what exactly did I decide to quit when I left certain jobs.

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