Natalie Spiro from Drum Cafe California :The Pursuit of Happiness (at Work)


Natalie Spiro , Drum Cafe California

There’s a quote out there that states, “If you like what you do, then you’ll never work a day in your life.” We think the root of this statement is based off of finding purpose and happiness within your work. It’s easy to correlate the relationship between doing things that make you happy and the positive impact you’ll have on the company; individuals who understand and embrace their purpose are more likely to have more initiative and creativity when they take on a project.

We believe that people can (and should) find purpose in anything they do! Here are four simple ways to discover your work’s valuable impact:

1. Have a mantra. Write a vision for yourself and know what drives you. In a work environment this can also be called a “Mission Statement.” Think about your organization’s objectives as you move through this process. Ask yourself, “Why am I part of this team?” and “What am I doing to help move things along?”

2. Align your goals. Have personal goals that align with the big picture of your organization; this will directly help you create a sense of purpose and belonging at work. The first step to aligning your goals is to fully understand what your organization’s strategy really is (this may require you to do some research); understand how to connect your work with the short-term and long-term goals of your team.

3. List your strengths. If you’re having difficulty listing strengths on your own, ask your team members to help you. Sometimes an outside perspective on “what you’re good at” can be very helpful. After you’ve discovered your strengths, find ways to incorporate your strengths with the tasks that you do on a daily basis. This will put you in a very productive state and time will seem to slip away when you’re at work.

4. Don’t let intimidation hold you back. Often times, people can be intimidated of a situation because they don’t think they possess the skills or academic credentials to move forward. The honest truth is that every work environment needs people from different walks of life with different skill sets. Your value may come from your experience, or your ability to get things done or your talent to effectively communicate any message to anyone.

When it comes to happiness at work, the biggest obstacle and the most valuable tool you possess happen to be the same thing- your mind. Often times, before a Drum Cafe West corporate event, we will observe skeptical or averse individuals within the group of attendees. They are probably thinking, “How will banging on some drums help us become a better team?” Thirty minutes later, the “skeptic” has made the choice to open their mind to something new and something amazing has happened. They are strong, engaged in activity and working with their teammates to create something beautiful and powerful! This is proof that the simple act of being at your best will help you contribute at your best.

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UBUNTU… I am because of those around … The message of Nelson Mandela

I am taking you straight into the heart of South Africa where Drum Cafe was born nearly 2 decades ago. From the very core of this country emanates the heartbeat you’re feeling now, as your read this. We’ve convened here this summer to talk about the future of Drum Cafe, now a global force that has changed the way communities connect with each other, beat by beat. It’s been a transformative time for all of us and as usual, I’m eager to trace the experience back to you.

We’ve all sat in rooms for presentations. There’s usually a few strong take-away’s. I’ve had so many from this conference, but the one that strikes me so deeply now is a concept that I have understood since I was a child. And given my proclivity to sharing nuggets of wisdom, here comes a gem.

Umunto Ngumuntu ngabantu

“I am through others.”

This is the concept of ubuntu – how each person is made whole by their interactions with the people around them. It’s an ancient believe that runs deep in all the tribes of Africa, as it binds together the collective life-force of each tribal member.  I hadn’t spoken about ubuntu for a while, and when we got into a lively discussion about it at the Drum Cafe conference, I felt electrified in a whole new way. Ubuntu is Drum Cafe.

Ubuntu asserts that only through sharing a common humanity can a person become fully human. We tap into that humanity every time we heal the separation between each other – imposed by hierarchy, business units, competition, geography, and fear of differences. If we begin to see ourselves through our connections with others – through others – we start to re-prioritize our thinking and our doing. We feel the gravitas behind each and every interaction we have, realizing that there is so much to gain from that moment of being.

It’s clearer than ever to me that each program Drum Cafe engages people in, is a chance to birth ubuntu into that culture as a permanent operating system behind all the others.  It takes interconnectedness to a whole new level and penetrates even the firewalls of the deepest corporate chambers.. This old and proven concept can hold the weight of us and give us flight — all at the same time.