Dwight: “Today, smoking is going to save lives.” Drops his cigarette in the trash bin along with the mini kerosene can and quietly walks out of the room.

A few seconds later…

Dwight: Looking around the office, “Does anyone smell anything smokey?”

Angela: “Did you bring your jerky in again?”

Pam (Receptionist): Noticing smoke coming out of a store room, “Oh my God.”

Michael (regional manager screams, coming out of his cabin): “Oh my God, oh, it’s happening. Everybody, stay calm.” Chaos ensues, and while employees are still calm, Michael yells louder, “Everybody, stay f@#@#$g calm.”

A minute later…

Michael: “Okay, we’re trapped, everyone for himself.”

‘The Office’ was an American Mockumentary sitcom television series that got everyone laughing out of their chairs. As you notice, Michael Scott who is the regional manager feels stubbed under the pressure of trying to handle everyone’s safety during a fire hazard. However, he miserably fails to stay calm and starts to tell everyone that they’re on their own and that he can’t do anything to bring them to safety.

While the series depicts the comical and satirical state of corporate everyday life, it pretty much sends us a clear message. Employers feel pressure too! They experience, more than others, the pressure to deliver leadership on a fearless platter devoid of self-doubt.

Another episode in the series showed the regional manager trying to make the festive season of Christmas fun for everyone. Again, as he tries to make it work, he somehow wants to control how the celebration should go. He only ends up disappointed with everyone when they don’t reciprocate the same sentiments.

Michael: “Well, Happy Birthday, Jesus. Sorry, your party is so lame.”

A few scenes later,

“I don’t ask for much for Christmas, I really don’t. It’s not like I am begging people to buy me diamonds, broaches, or pendants.” Starts to mimic, “Oh, buy me something expensive or I’m going to kill myself. That’s not… I don’t care about that! All I want to be is Santa, and if you want to take that away from me, fine, go ahead. But when you need my help coz I am ruining everything, don’t look at me!”

Funnily, in trying to be the best boss, Michael ends up ruining Christmas for everyone. He succumbs to the pressure of not matching supposed leadership expectations.

Much like this regional manager, what he faces is sometimes what most managers or employers face during festive seasons. It’s more pressure and less festivity where everyone else enjoys the celebrations.

To bring a more reality-based instance, owners of business undergo the unspoken practice of giving gifts to authorities that have supported the growth of their organization, including the powers to be during the season of festivities and especially at Diwali – the festival of light. In a manner of expressing gratitude for their support, employers have to thank them every year for approving necessary licenses and granting operation-related permissions.

This practice of giving expensive Diwali gifts is to ensure that the employer receives continued support from these sources in the years to come.

I have personally seen the pressure ‘appropriate gifting’ creates for the business owners. An occasion of joy and festivities turns into a nightmare of worries and meeting expectations of the powers that be. On challenging one of my Coaching clients on the practice of gifting, his response was wrapped in the reasons of tradition to finally downright admitting of being afraid of the consequences. I nudged him to step back and analyze the situation from the ground of neutrality defined by the three negations – no assumptions, no expectations and no personal desire of a specific outcome.  The result was startling for him as he realized the fear was all in his mind. The assumptions and expectations of giving gifts as a compulsion or out of the fear of the consequences were his own creation. In his own words, “I will now give someone a gift because I want to and not because I have to.” The sheer joy of giving in true sense was shining on his face.

Another practice which is prevalent in India during the Diwali season is giving a  gift to the employees. A simple gesture of happy festivities has today taken a shape of a monster of expectations. The HR or the Admin department spends countless hours on deciding the budget, identifying the possible options for the gifts ( ensuring it’s not a repeat for at least last 3 years if not more), negotiating with the vendors and even getting the involvement of the senior staff to decide on the appropriate item. . Despite all the time, energy and effort, most of the times one gets to hear notes of discontent about the gift and is probably given away to someone else.

While it’s right to appreciate your employees for their hard work and contribution to the growth of your business, does Diwali only boil down to a gift?

Another client of mine who is the owner of a large services firm started to question this practice of handing out gifts to employees during one of our coaching sessions. He introspected on the questions like What was the purpose or the intention of a gift? Is it just gifts what Diwali now represents?  During deeper introspections, he realized that Diwali’s true meaning symbolizes light and spreading the sweetness and joy of the occasion. It further dawned on him that the festival also symbolizes family.

This Diwali, he decided as an experiment to do away with the practice of gifting random items to his employees and instead organized an informal get together for offering prayers, lighting  Diyas (Diwali earthen Lamps) and finally distributing sweets in the village nearby to  celebrate the occasion.

To his surprise, the employees endorsed his decision whole heartedly and as per the feedback from my client – They had the best Diwali ever.

What really gave strength to both of my clients to challenge the traditional practices – It was focusing on INTENTION more than the ACTION. An action that emerges out of the right intention has a power to dispel any doubts, fears or anxieties.

Now, the question is how to identify the right intention? That’s where SiQ (Spiritual Quotient) plays a big role. The more we are able to work on enhancing our SiQ, the clarity of intention or the answer to the big “Why” becomes sharper.

“Pressure comes from within

and so must be

mastered from within.”

~Ed Jacoby

If your intention is clear, your actions get aligned. This increases the efficiency and effectiveness of your actions. So, take a step back and recognize your intention of these practices. Your intentions must align with your value system. Your value system is non-negotiable as you have to stick to them. They are the axis point around which your intentions and actions revolve.

Strength and courage are needed to follow your values which is possible with a high SiQ. This is what my clients did as they stuck to their value system and acted accordingly. This not only helped them dissolve their respective problems but also gave them ultimate contentment and joy rather than feel unnecessary pressure created by a common but non-mandatory practice.

“Peace of mind comes

when your life is in harmony

with true principles and values

and in no other way.”

~Stephen Covey

When you are aware of your values, you can steer your situation in a more productive direction. Employers likely feel they’ve overspent and wasted good sums of money. This can spiral them into devising ways to try to extract maximum from such money-based relationships. Therefore, in these times, making sure you remember your values and stick to them can help create a more positive thought process within and without.

There is a beautiful song made in the animated movie called Zootopia. It sums up how this festive season would see a winning leader journey through every day.

I messed up tonight, I lost another fight

Lost to myself, but I’ll just start again

I keep falling down, I keep on hitting the ground

I always get up now, see what’s next

Birds don’t just fly, they fall down and get up

Nobody learns without gettin’ it wrong

I won’t give up, no, I won’t give in

‘Til I reach the end, and then I’ll start again

No, I won’t leave, I wanna try everything

I wanna try even though I could fail

I won’t give up, no, I won’t give in

‘Til I reach the end, and then I’ll start again

No, I won’t leave, I wanna try everything

I wanna try even though I could fail

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