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What is love? Serious question.

What is love? Serious question. I’m not asking for a Disney or Rom-Com kind of answer. I’m asking for one that describes the meaning and actions of love in an everyday, overtime, with family, in community and at work kind of way. How do you know love is present? What does it require of you? How does it change things?

This month our Trusted Leaders program is focusing on this core value of love. Together, we’ve grappled with the word and where it fits in our lives. Most people had previously relegated a very specific type of love to a very well defined aspect of their lives. However, as we talked about language and the people we spend much of our time with, the obvious became even more evident: the people we work with are a significant part of the best hours of our days and years. So it’s important to consider: What do we need to be our whole best selves during our work time? What can you offer others in an effort to create a healthy and supportive work environment? 

Through my coaching calls with individuals, a continuum has emerged around this topic of love at work. The continuum attempts to take into consideration our comfort with certain words, the behavioral differences that would be required at different stages and the various ways of approaching others all along the way to creating a more dynamic, safe and flourishing work environment.  

While still in progress, here’s where I’ve landed so far: 

Why does this matter? 

What does moving along this continuum—beyond respect and ‘being nice’ towards support and love—offer to us?

I’ve written before about the neuroscience behind love. Briefly, here’s what we know: When we have real support and love, our stress levels go down, we get along much better with others and we rise to new challenges in powerful ways. When an environment is just neutral or love is absent, the opposite occurs: anxiety among individuals and work groups goes up, mixed signals and confusion begin to occur and people don’t get along (choosing instead to create all kinds of stories that just aren’t founded in reality, #drama). This drama takes incredible amounts of time to manage and takes away from the time and energy we need to be productive and creative. Finally, when there is an absence of support and love, no one wants to step towards a challenge. It feels too risky. And right now, perhaps more than ever, we need to be able to take on new challenges.

Knowing this, we have all sorts of reasons—from increasing productivity and enjoying work to simply being better versions of ourselves—to move towards the support and love side of the continuum. Will you? 

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