Job performance: the new dualism

By: Adam G Fleming in job performance, 2 weeks ago

The ancient Greeks philosophized that there are two kinds of reality: the material (physical) world, of which Madonna is famously a denizen, and the immaterial or spiritual world — where I suppose someone like the Dalai Lama places his focus. This is called dualism. Because of this division, some people thought that what we did with our bodies had no effect or impact whatsoever upon our spirit/psyche/eternal soul. That’s why the Greeks enjoyed a good orgy. Lots of pleasures of the flesh were just that; they had nothing to do with their spiritual selves. Because they predated Judeo-Christian ethics and morals, I don’t think they even had hang-ups about it. Though I have to wonder if they ever thought “there’s got to be more to life than this.” Anyway, ever since the ancient Greeks passed away (at least their material selves did, ha, ha,) philosophers have argued about this, and I’m sure some would say that the arguments are still inconclusive. I am not a philosopher, so the philosophical history lesson concludes here.

Now I’m going to drag in the sloppy political discourse from Facebook onto our lovely, pure Exoteric Living platform. Just kidding. Well, not totally kidding. I’ll drag it in, but I won’t be sloppy. Today I saw some comments indicating that whatever one does in one’s personal life has no effect on one’s job performance. This was in relation to a politician who will remain nameless. Let’s just say the person making this comment was, in essence, saying that the importance of a public figure’s job performance trumps the importance of his or her personal life, and that his or her personal life has no ramifications upon his or her job performance. Conclusion: So, who cares what he or she does in private? The political discourse ends here.

Next, I want to point out that we have uncovered a new sort of dualism. What you do in the material world is now subdivided into “private” and “public.” Let’s forget about politicians (as quickly as we can, I know, it’s primary voting day) and refocus on this topic as it relates to you. How you take responsibility for your own life, as a leader in your own sphere. And let’s also cut through the crap. I call B.S. on this private/public dualism, and here’s the single, simple reason why:

Ask any boss. Any employer. Any mid- or low-level manager of people. The woman in charge of scheduling workers at your local fast-food burger joint. The guy in charge of the crew who mows the lawn around your local hospital or university. Ask them: do the things that are happening to your employees in their personal lives have any impact on their job performance?

I guarantee you will only get one answer from leaders whose job it is to make sure there are people flipping the burgers. I mean, these flippin’ burgers aren’t flippin’ themselves (not yet, anyway. A.I. is catching up, and soon it may be robots doing this work. But somebody will have to fix the robots. So get an education, kids. And I don’t mean liberal arts, because soon there will be no burger flippin’ jobs for a painter or singer/songwriter. I am not saying you shouldn’t become a painter or musician, I’m just saying don’t spend $200,000 on an education to do it. I digress.)

The only answer you’re going to get is “Of course their personal life makes an impact on the job performance!!!”  This point was worth the gratuitous triple exclamation points. These managers who will give you this answer are not (usually) philosophers. They would give you this answer from empirical business data they accumulate daily. The data comes in the form of anecdotes like these: “Susie is a no-call, no-show, her kid is probably sick again and her husband is away. Jim-Bob came in late, hung over. Pat has to go to court this afternoon. I have to cover for them all.” The thing is, this isn’t just about burger-flippin’ blokes and lawn-mowin’ sheilas. The same thing goes for doctors, professors, lawyers, and other people who have earned status in our society. (Should I remove lawyers from the list? Ha, ha. I’m kidding. My brother-in-law is a lawyer. He works for Special Olympics. He’s like a John Grisham character or something, he’s making the world a better place.)

Someone asked the other day whether I was a life coach or a leadership coach. To me, they’re the same. There’s no room for this new dualism. If your personal life stinks, your job performance is going to suffer. Oh, you can avoid your problems by throwing yourself into the work, sure. You can be a workaholic, and for a while, your work might look better and better. But you’re building a house of cards there, it’s an illusory trick. It’s a house of straw. If you want to build a house of brick, little pig, you’d better take care of your personal life, by the hair of your chinny-chin-chin. Don’t let the wolf in.

Coaching is about helping people attain a holistic balance between the material and the spiritual, and between the public and private lives they lead. There are internal forces and external forces at play in your world, and how you deal with them will effect your job performance. I guarantee it.

Don’t fall into the new dualism trap. Take care of yourselves, my friends.

You can reach me at adam.fleming.lifecoach@gmail.com.

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  1. Matt Rosenblum

    Very true, work and life should be integrated. Weird that we create strong divisions between the two as a culture.

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