(Photo courtesy of MSNBC)
Recently, Pope Francis listed 15 "ailments" that he believed were infecting the Catholic Church. But I think we should also take this to heart in our workplace. Here are the unhealthy habits listed by the Pope that I believe we can also eliminate from our careers:
1) Feeling immortal, immune or indispensable. The Pope advises to stay updated and continually seek improvement. Otherwise, Francis points out that those who don't are a "sick body."
2) Working too hard. "Rest for those who have done their work is necessary, good and should be taken seriously."
3) Becoming spiritually and mentally hardened. "It's dangerous to lose that human sensibility that lets you cry with those who are crying, and celebrate those who are joyful." The last several years have been brutal as companies laid off workers, and workers took on two to three times their usual amount of work. Let's not forget in this competitive environment, sometimes the best thing you can do is be a good listener for a struggling co-worker, or even offer to take a stressed manager out for coffee.
4) Planning too much. "Preparing things well is necessary, but don't fall into the temptation of trying to close or direct the freedom of the Holy Spirit, which is bigger and more generous than any human plan." Even if you don't consider yourself a religious person, you need to learn to relax and not fight so many internal battles.
5) Working without coordination, like an orchestra that produces noise. "When the foot tells the hand, 'I don't need you' or the hand tells the head 'I'm in charge.'" More companies are pushing workers to become more collaborative. If you don't, you may just find yourself dispensable.
6) Having 'spiritual Alzheimer's. "We see it in the people who have forgotten their encounter with the Lord ... in those who depend completely on their here and now, on their passions, whims and manias, in those who build walls around themselves and become enslaved to the idols that they have built with their own hands." Again, you may not follow a certain religious path, but the Pope makes a good point that there is more to life than possessions. Think about how you will keep yourself spiritually alive as you approach 2015.
7) Being rivals or boastful. "When one's appearance, the color of one's vestments or honorific titles become the primary objective of life." Put another way: stop bragging so much on social media about your latest project or job and instead keep the focus on how you can help others. That's better than a corner office.
8) Suffering from 'existential schizophrenia. "It's the sickness of those who live a double life, fruit of hypocrisy that is typical of mediocre and progressive spiritual emptiness that academic degrees cannot fill. It's a sickness that often affects those who, abandoning pastoral service, limit themselves to bureaucratic work, losing contact with reality and concrete people." If you're a manager, step out from behind your desk and get out in the real world with your workers. Don't make the mistake of letting your work quality slide just because you can.
9) Committing the 'terrorism of gossip. "It's the sickness of cowardly people who, not having the courage to speak directly, talk behind people's backs." Amen.
10) Glorifying one's bosses. "It's the sickness of those who court their superiors, hoping for their benevolence. They are victims of careerism and opportunism, they honor people who aren't God." This is sort of the Pope's way of saying that brown-nosers have got their priorities all screwed up.
11) Being indifferent to others. "When, out of jealousy or cunning, one finds joy in seeing another fall rather than helping him up and encouraging him." It's one thing to be competitive -- but it's something else entirely when you like to see people fail. Do you spend more energy putting people down rather than offering a helping hand?
12) Having a 'funereal face. "In reality, theatrical severity and sterile pessimism are often symptoms of fear and insecurity. The apostle must be polite, serene, enthusiastic and happy and transmit joy wherever he goes." It's amazing what a smile or pat on the back can do for someone else -- and for yourself.
13) Wanting more. "When the apostle tries to fill an existential emptiness in his heart by accumulating material goods, not because he needs them but because he'll feel more secure." Do you really need the latest tech gadget? Or might you find greater happiness in helping others?
14) Forming 'closed circles' that seek to be stronger than the whole. "This sickness always starts with good intentions but as time goes by, it enslaves its members by becoming a cancer that threatens the harmony of the body and causes so much bad — scandals — especially to our younger brothers." Cliques don't end when we leave high school, and they can be just as damaging in the workplace. Make it a point to ask someone you don't know well at work to lunch, or just take the time to chat with those outside your work area.
15) Seeking worldly profit and showing off. "It's the sickness of those who insatiably try to multiply their powers and to do so are capable of calumny, defamation and discrediting others, even in newspapers and magazines, naturally to show themselves as being more capable than others." If you're slamming others online, stop it. Stop hogging the limelight at work, and remember to give others credit if they helped you.