Nancy O'Hara is a former executive in the publishing business who has been a student of Zen Buddhism for 13 years. She conducts corporate seminars and retreats on mindfulness on the job. At the outset, she writes: "We can find meaning in work. But first we have to do a little work on ourselves and shift our perspective away from our old expectations. We must change the way we approach our jobs."
Instead of just going with the moment, we burden it with all kinds of hopes and dreams. Instead of just accepting the changes that come, we blame others for them, especially if they bring unhappiness. Instead of just taking things as they come, we struggle to have our own way. No wonder O'Hara nails down expectations as "the most potent source of our emotional pain and suffering." She agrees with someone who once told her that this toxic state of mind is "premeditated resentment." Expectations always set us up for a fall at work. The author also zeroes in on the ways in which pride, jealousy, and anger not only drag down our performance at work but leave us perpetually exhausted.
O'Hara's seven steps to loving your work are based on Zen Buddhism and the Tao Te Ching. A few of the most important are seeing clearly and letting go, balance, and disciplined attention. We especially liked the author's assessment of how helpful it is to bring heart into the work arena as a way of humanizing one's labors, respecting others, dealing with difficult people, and handling adversity.