Working, without losing ourselves, in a world with relentless focus on the metrics
Everyday, especially at work, I feel a tremendous tension to pay attention to my duties without becoming attached to their results. This is basically the tension in Hindu philosophy, and a thread that seems to run throughout other domains of eastern philosophy.
On the one hand, I have to do my job, and do it well. After all, what’s the point if I am working but our customer is not served properly? That’s especially important to me as an employee of The Detroit Police Deparrment, because my customers are literally friends and neighbors.
At the same time, if I’m all about the metrics and I care about results above all else, it becomes so easy to get addicted to them. And just like any addiction, once you’re hooked you do anything (even something shady) to keep the high going.
So it’s a dilemma - paying enough attention to results to know whether I am fulfilling my duty, without being so attached and addicted to results (and pleasing others) that I’m willing to corrupt myself to keep delivering.
Whether it has been call center employees, non-profit staff, members of street gangs, or warehouse workers, spending real time with real customers has kept me from losing sight of the work, amidst relentless pressure to generate results. It’s a practice that helps me stay committed to my duties, while simultaneously protecting me from becoming a monster that’s so addicted to results that I’ll do anything to get them.
Spending time with and listening to customers is not just good business, it has philosophical implications.