BOTH Performance AND People

Knidos, Turkey

Hey, there! Looks like it’s been awhile since I’ve posted here on Leading with Intention. My energies have been focused on my photography (you can check out thejoyfulleye to see some of my work) and on poetry (check out And Then Opens Possibility for some of my latest pieces). I recently curated a collection of mindfulness-inspiring poems accompanied by my flower blossom photography at Meditative Blossoms.

In keeping with the poetry focus, this post features a prose-like poem that I was inspired to write after a conversation with a colleague where we were exploring some of the challenges in developing leaders today, with so much of leaders’ energy focused on the bottom line in these turbulent and challenging times (that also call for bigger doses of compassion than usual!).

 BOTH Performance AND People 

Why does everyone always assume that it’s black or white? (That's a rhetorical question, because, of course, we know, our brains are wired to simplify the complex, right?) (And, indeed, it’s an exaggeration because it’s so rare that everyone ALWAYS does something.) 

Some implicit dichotomy lies bare on the floor of the workplace: performance OR people. It’s sometimes subtle like cinnamon used in a savory dish, and maybe just as often it’s strong, like a heavy weight you carry on your back that makes your shoulders slump.  It rests under the words you use. Others can see it in the ideas you share. It might be so deeply embedded in who you’ve become that you don’t even recognize its presence within you. 

Isn’t it obvious that a healthy, successful culture needs both? That performance of an organization is totally reliant on the people? No people, no performance. Some leaders see only the performance lever and their eyes seem fixed - like a red-light pointer during a PowerPoint presentation - on success and all that we must do to achieve our targets. 

You have to wonder how they don’t seem to understand that pressure building reaches a point it must be released, that there’s a cost to be paid for all the pushing and plying, plowing powerfully forward like a puma on the plains, that the bill just hasn’t arrived, yet. Oh, but it will!

Are they afraid that, should we focus on the people, we’d end up coddling them, softening them into laziness and lose our advantage? Is the answer rules and structures and protocols that keep the grip so tight that an explosion is likely around any corner?  

What if, just what if, we recognized that humans work here, that those people delivering on behalf of the corporation, the people on your team, they thrive when they are seen for who they are as individuals and valued for what they bring and create. There is no company, no organization, no team without the people. Thriving people, thriving organization. Not just now, in this quarter, but for the long haul. The people make the place. You’ve got to remember that.  

There’s an invitation here. There’s a call to open to AND: Doing AND Being. Action AND Inaction. Thinking AND Feeling. Using our Minds AND Listening to our Hearts. Work AND Play. Masculine AND Feminine energy. Fast AND Slow. Noise AND Quiet. Pride AND Humility. Ambition AND Restraint. Holding on AND Letting go. Performance AND People. 

May we listen for the bidding, the call to embrace AND. May we see how things are both black AND white, and lots of shades in between and beyond those points. Yes, where we work is colorful and vibrant with so many beautiful spots where we can place our attention. May we widen our view and look for something beyond and new.  

Click HERE for an audio recording of the poem.

Author: Vicki L Flaherty

I am most alive when I am creating, whether through writing, photography, gardening, cooking, crafting, sewing, yoga. I enjoy traveling because it opens me to greater awareness and new possibilities. I find a special joy when I’ve helped someone see their brilliance and express their full potential. As I've focused on living more mindfully, I've found special joy in expressing myself through poetry and photography, and in truly being in relationship with those I meet along my journey.

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