One of the things you have to remember about work is that it is NOT your life. It can be an important part of your life. It can be extremely fulfilling. When there’s stress at home, going to work can be a relief. And when there’s stress at work, going home can be a relief.
But don’t forget that these worlds can be combined. I firmly believe that you should have friends from work, and be able to work with friends. I personally find a great deal of happiness combining my work and personal lives and keeping a big, black line between the two.
I am me. I’m the me at work. And the me at work is the me at home. And I would love for all the important people in my life to know each other, hang out together, and someday have a great big party.
On a related note, remember that your friends from various pieces of your life can be resources for all the pieces of your life. You don’t have to just ask “friends” about friend stuff and “co-workers” about work stuff. Even when people don’t have specific experience with something, they can bring a new, fresh perspective.
In meditation and Zen practice, there’s a concept called Beginner’s Mind. Beginner’s mind means that you approach something with an open attitude even if you have a lot of experience. This is very important when you’ve been doing something a long time. You can build little ruts at work, at home, in the community, and so forth.
Beginners always have beginner’s mind because they don’t know the history of your problem, your business, your relationship, etc. They take a fresh look without knowing all the stories you tell yourself around the topic. They don’t know what can’t be done. One of the reasons that young people come up with so much innovation is that they don’t know what can’t be done.
One of the ruts we dig for ourselves is to go to the same people for advice on the same topics.
I recently had a problem at work. I could not talk to the people at work about it. And since it involved someone close to almost everyone in my mastermind group, I couldn’t talk to them about it. But I wasn’t stuck! I have friends from all over the world, in different professions. I have relatives. I have an amazing girlfriend.
In other words, I have a complete support system. 99% of the time, I don’t think of them as a support system. I don’t go through life gathering people around me to support me. But on the day that I need advice, these people are all there to support me.
With my recent problem, I had one key point that was stuck in my head and I couldn’t find the answer. I had had many casual conversations with friends, co-workers, and others. Finally, a friend’s name popped into my head. I sent him an email and asked for 15 minutes of his time. Later that day he called me . . . and turned on the lights so I could see the problem more clearly.
I wouldn’t say he “solved” my problem, but he made me understand that I’m not alone and a whole industry works to solve this problem.
In this case, I called on someone I don’t normally rely on for advice. And he was the perfect person to contact.
No matter what you’ve got going on, you’ve probably got a whole team behind you waiting to help. They’re not paid advisors, for the most part. They’re the normal people in your life. And they have a lot to offer.