In a musical review of the works of Noel Coward, there are two characters on stage at one point sharing this dialog:
Woman: They say “life is for the living”, don’t you agree?
Man: It’s difficult to know what else one would do with it.
Coward was a bit of a sarcastic chap, and while he wrote these words, it was probably part of an exchange he actually had with some unsuspecting conversationalist.
The fact is that many of the living don’t live their lives as fully as they could. We are all stuck in some way. Sometimes we defend our “stuckness”, and other times we seek to understand what is holding us back and work to destroy the barrier.
- Need more education to do what you want to do? Figure it out and get the education.
- Working two jobs to manage your debt load? Sell stuff you don’t really need and stop buying new stuff.
- Can’t stand your boss and don’t see him leaving anytime soon? Get some help in dealing with the negatives or get out.
Afraid of the future because you can’t see past the fog? Make sure the path is right, ’cause the fog may not lift for awhile. Remember your history and geography lessons; you’re not likely to fall off the edge of the earth.
In HR, your role is about the people. It’s not your job to make them all feel great about their job or their life circumstance, but it is your job to help the leaders make the best use of every human being you hire. And many of them are fearful – particularly of the unknown. Like driving in fog, they don’t want to overdrive their headlights and run the risk of something emerging from the fog with too little time to course-correct.
Coward would say life is not for the timid or the cowards or the overly cautious. But those people are a reality of every workplace. And part of your strategy as an HR leader ought to be helping them to see beyond the fog and have the confidence to continue on the journey.