When I was a kid, our family’s drive to the beach took us through the nondescript town of Hamlet, NC.
Hamlet is a modest hamlet (sorry), not known for much. But it has one huge claim to fame: it is the birthplace of the legendary jazz saxophonist John Coltrane.
There’s a historical marker by the side of the road marking the spot and for years I saw that in passing and wondered about John Coltrane.
I finally learned who he was in a course in college and a lifelong love affair with Coltrane’s music began. His music plumbs the depths of the soul, touching every conceivable emotion. His playing transcends the saxophone – listen long enough and you hear a voice. His work has influenced nearly every great jazz musician of the last seventy-five years.
Soon after his birth, Coltrane’s family moved to High Point, NC and the marker there notes the spot of his boyhood home.
I’ve always been struck by that Coltrane quote at the bottom:
“My music is the spiritual expression of what I am – my faith, my knowledge, my being”.
John Coltrane’s work was his music. But for him music was more than work.
It was a way of expressing his very being – his real self. It was a way of marking, claiming, and exploring his identity and in so doing enticing others to do the same. It was a meaningful work life, to say the least.
How many of us get to bring our whole self to work?
How many of us who are leaders are intentional about creating workplace culture where team members can bring all of who they are to work?
We believe that every human being has the innate desire to belong, to contribute, and to make a difference.
Thriving organizational cultures succeed because they provide a place for those desires to be expressed and lived out. That’s not to say that work is the sum of one’s life but rather that the most healthy organizations craft culture where people can bring all of themselves to the table and where the whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts.
Work is a place where they belong, not just go.
Work is a place where they contribute, not just mark time.
Work is a place where they make a difference, not just cash a check.
What about your organization?
Is it a place where people can realize their innate desire to belong, contribute and make a difference?
Take some time to consider those questions and, as you do, enjoy this taste of Coltrane’s music:
Todd Hahn is a Culture Architect and Executive Advisor with TAG.