What I am going to talk about is a little different, it is a subject that most of us don't put a second thought to. It's our jobs.
Our jobs- that thing we get up for every day and do again and again and again. Our job becomes a series of habits. For those of you you have yet to read the book the Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, I highly recommend it. The book goes into the details of what habits are , how they are developed, and how to replace them with new habits. A quick recap of the book for the sake of this post: our brain develops habits, in order to save on energy and to go on autopilot. Once we get a "cue" we loop into a habit until it finishes with a reward. Now, we have thousands upon thousands of habits that are made to get us through every day: from getting out of bed, to brushing our teeth, to driving to work, to what we do at work, to how we answer questions. We go on autopilot. And we do it a lot, our brains do it to us, and it saves the brain energy.
But what if we challenged our habit loops, and we thought about what we were doing and why we did it.
What if you challenged your brain to be conscious? And what if what you found is that
it made your life richer, you found your purpose, and you made others lives richer.
And I am telling you all you have to do is to be conscious and to battle these habit loops.
This is a hefty statement, I realize that, but let me explain myself.
Let me describe this from my perspective and in my business how habit loops can run a day, and how you can see it from another point of view.
I am an optometrist. My goal is to provide people with the best possible sight they can have in this life, and that comes in different forms every day. It consists of hard conversations, educational moments, and joy. I also work in a private practice surrounded by staff to help me do what I do. Each of us does a part. Our parts blend together to provide a seamless experience. We each do our thing and people come and go with their eye health taken care of. We know what to do, it's what we do every day. It may change slightly but the cue and the reward are always the same. Our habit loop varies very slightly over time. But ultimately, what we do are habits. The front desk staff answers the phone, greets the patients, bills their appointments. The technicians work the patient up, check vision, do multiple tests and complete the chart. The opticians dispense glasses, fits glasses, and bills appropriately. While I, take care of the eye health and ensure it is all done appropriately and order any tests needed to be performed next. We are a collaboration of the whole.
Now, What if we weren't on our loops? What if we were conscious and not following out ready made habits. What if we actually realized what each and every thing we did meant for a person. That what we are doing truly matters and we were conscious of it.
The front desk staff as they answered the phone; what if they realized that person on the other end hadn't heard another person all day, and they were lonely, wanting human connection. Or, if the person on the other end is miserable everyday due to the dull ever constant pain of dry eye that never stops, and even though they prefer not to go to a doctor, finally decided it was time. Or if the person on the other end, recently lost their job, but they need to see, and they have to make this appointment even though their budget doesn't allow it. What if the front desk made that person's day and they were the light in all the dark. What if, when the patient made the appointment, made it in that day after their grandmother died, but came in out of obligation and the first person they saw was the front desk person greeting them? These little interactions with each other matter. I can keep going. We are all human and we are all the same. We all have good days and we all have bad. Our jobs matter, and we impact every person. We make a difference in their lives, we touch their lives.
Moving from the front desk, the same happens with the technicians. New things in life can be stressful. Moving things in front of people's eyes and testing them can cause anxiety. Nobody wants their sight to decline. What if the technicians thought about each patient and how each test made them feel? Help give people a little bit of compassion and love. Maybe that patient's great grandmother was blind, and his vision has been decreasing and he finally decided to make that appointment to come in. Through the testing, he notices more and more he feels like he is failing, getting more and more anxious that he will go blind too. We don't know where people have been through, and we won't But by being on autopilot and just running through the tests like a robot, doesn't treat people like people.
As the Doctor, this is easy to do as well. I am not without fault. It's easy to go through the exam, educate people with conditions they have and move on. Not considering what taking a few drops means to somebodies life. Maybe it means hundreds of dollars they have to save, and take away from providing for their grandchildren. Or maybe a new pair or glasses means they can't get their car fixed that broke down last week, ruining their chance of mobility and freedom.
Opticians, get great at fixing glasses, fitting glasses, educating on all things glasses. What if they took a minute to realize what those glasses would do for somebody. Maybe this person spent 3 months saving so they could see again. Not only can these glasses be the ones they see on their face every single day, and be the thing they form their self image on, but it will help them take in the world. It will help them shape everything around them. Everything that person takes in, will be based on those glasses. What if you treated every patient like that? What if every patient was a person and what you did mattered. Because it all does. People don't show up someplace because it doesn't matter to them. What we do matters.
This is just a small example of all of our jobs. We all go on autopilot. We don't treat people like people. When you go someplace, say the dentist, you go for a purpose. It may be the one thing you scheduled around that day. You may have gotten fired but its the one thing you want to keep up, your smile, so the world can't see it has gotten you down. Nobody would know that story. But what if they were conscious and caring anyways? What kind of environment would be created if we all realized every little thing we do matters and makes an impact on each other. That we all touch each other in some way and it can make all the difference in the world to a person?
What if we were all conscious and we realized our careers mattered.
That we make such a large impact on each other if only we woke up to what we are really doing.
My challenge to you, take the next few days. Be conscious. Don't make judgements, don't lump people into categories. treat each person separately with love and respect. They showed up for a service that you have the power to offer them, and an experience that can change their day and even their life. We are all in this crazy game called life together. We all matter. We all serve a great purpose and we can lift each other up. One moment at a time.