My Observations at Work

by Nico van Haastrecht, Warnsveld, The Netherlands

After more than 25 years of working in the profession of electrical engineer I finally became conscious and aware of what I had felt for a long time in my work. This slowly was revealed to me when I had become a student of Universal Medicine.

What I had felt all the time was unpleasant and made me over time dislike my job and profession more and more. Now I look at it with different eyes and am able to more observe what is happening and to not get that much involved in it. Now I am in the process of re-evaluating my job and am starting to appreciate what I do because there is still that much to learn for me – and for humanity as a whole. Below I will describe some of my observations that annoyed me in the past ­– but now I can see what is behind it and that it is not about me, but about systems and patterns that play out. The most beautiful thing is that we can change these patterns by being present and trusting that our feelings are true.

In my profession as electrical engineer I work in engineering offices on projects for the development of industrial plants. There we work in multidisciplinary project teams in which different disciplines – like civil, mechanical, structural, instrumentation, electrical, procurement, construction, etc. – work together to materialise the project, with each of them bringing in their specialisation, and at the end all parts must work together as one installation. What appears to be the most challenging in these projects is that we have to work together as people, with each other’s personalities, lifestyles, characters and moods, in order to get the job done, getting the plant built. The technical part, thus far in my career, has never been the difficult part for me.

So it is not the technical part that makes it difficult but the interaction with other people that brings the issues on the shop floor. The interaction of people’s characters, moods and emotions are not based on meeting each other in essence – the part of us which is always expressing towards love and harmony with others in the world – but on meeting with what is built around this essence. This can be represented in our bodies as being hard or defensive, in our communication as being blunt and aggressive to timid and condoning, and almost always as competition, all with the focus on being right and getting validation.

As I realised, what we build around our essence is for protection against getting hurt, and lets us avoid meeting each other in truth. I understood that every time we meet not from our essence, we harm each other. So we build a way of being that is all about protection and how we think the world wants us to be. It hurts to not be our true selves and it hurts to relate to others from this place also. From deep within we know that we are all the same and we crave being met for who we truly are. Simple things like truly meeting my colleagues, before providing a service or a product to them, does make the difference. This meeting may be as simple as having eye contact, a hand on the shoulder, or a considered handshake. When I come from my essence, simply my voice and my body invite the other person to feel their own essence.

Engineers in general, including myself, are educated to provide complex solutions and improvements for apparent problems found in society. Whilst there is tremendous mental skill and ability in this, I have also observed that we bring in complexity because we are disconnected from ourselves and from humanity, and therefore look only to the latest technical marvels available, searching for a way to impose them onto humanity (this is the complexity), thinking that we are improving the world and doing good. When we truly connect to humanity however, we can only provide the simple solutions that will serve all in equality, nothing more and nothing less.

The scope of work is not always clearly understood between the client and the contractor at the start of the project. Before we make an offer on the ‘invitation to bid’ we must get a clear picture of what the client needs, otherwise the client can have a different understanding of what has to be delivered compared with what has been offered. Most of the time this misunderstanding becomes apparent in a stage of the project when a change has a big impact on the budget, the planning, and on the relations with the client. This causes stress on the project that the employees at the other end have to suffer. I have found that such simple things as meeting the client in truth, without the arrogance of “we know what you want and this is what you get”, we explore the needs of the client, resulting in a mutual understanding of what has to be delivered, coming to the conclusion of “we know what you want and this is what we can offer you.”

They say that it is the budget and the time schedule that put projects under pressure, but are these schedules and budgets realistic? Most are based on targets that are set because some people want to have that outcome for any reason, without envisaging if they are realistic and feasible (that is, if all is in harmony). Some clients enforce the schedules to be adopted by the contractor, and the contractor accepts because they want to have the order – out of need, and the belief of scarcity in the market, amongst others. Once this has settled in the project, it is very difficult to challenge it; in practice, the budgets and schedules most of the time cannot be met and they overrun significantly. In my experience a certain quality, with a given quantity and budget, has its own schedule regardless of whatever we want of it. We must be truthful to clients about this fact and not compromise from a neediness to have the job or project executed. We have to tell the client if a schedule or budget is not feasible; it is part of the role of an engineering office to present this.

The above-described observations do help me in how I do my job, where I place my way of living against what is presented in my daily work. I know that I do not have the direct influence to change them all, and it may take some time to get them changed, but up to the point where I have a say I am standing up and bringing into practice what I have summed up above. This brings back a joy I had missed for a long time.

445 thoughts on “My Observations at Work

  1. If we connect to who we really are and with that connection go to work we cannot else than work in harmony with that what is needed and nothing else. So what does this mean to us, when the harmony is not there, if everything what is done is done with the only purpose of personal gain instead to be true to all. We all do feel that and of course this will play out in our bodies and our moods as we will feel the discomfort of that. We are made to work in harmony with one another and therefore our workplaces are a beautiful place to be for learning that. It is important to understand that work is that for us, a place and an activity where we can learn to work together in the quality of togetherness or oneness we all in essence are and are so longing for.

  2. While the workplace caries such a potential for people to learn and work together, there are so many things that are put in front of that that make it sometimes hard to see that this is the case. Like being presented in this blog you have a personal interest over the interest of the all, personal need over the overall need of the project and the people working on it etc. For instance what I experienced lately was that the client was portrayed as being ‘difficult’ and hard to come in common terms with. I found after connecting with them it was actually the opposite. It was more the attitude of the company I was working for that portrayed its way of doing business on their client instead.

  3. I really connect with your comment about listening to the client and working out what they are asking for and what you can offer, as opposed to arrogantly telling the client what they will get. I have added the word arrogant as that is what I hear when I consider the two approaches.

  4. When we come together to work on a project it is the connection between and among those in the group that will allow the project to flow with everyone working with a shared purpose.

  5. Thank you Nico, reading this again what I felt was a simplification – being honest and direct with clients about realistic outcomes for example, instead of the complication that emotionality brings which is accepting unreasonable terms due to fear to lose the contract, and then trying to deliver and all the stress that entails. We sorely lack but direct, honest communication. We often let the truth go because we are invested in what we think we will get out of it.

    1. Sure Melinda, but I see this also with the contracts which on itself are not only used to agree on the services or goods that have to be delivered but come loaded with so much protection just because we have the experience of parties that willingly or unwillingly do not comply to the contract at the end. But again what I found in this case was that in general it is not unwillingness but actually just a lack of connection and personal relationships that were not invested in.

  6. Large projects so often go wrong and I agree that your approach of meeting the client in truth is much preferred to the other approach you describe of we know what you want and here it is. In my own experience with software projects, the client very often has not really worked out what they need, it is very hazily described and open to amendment as the process develops and they realise that they have forgotten key elements in their specification. The complications can be increased when external consultants have been brought in to help the customer define the specification and often impose what they think the customer needs rather than what the customer really needs. Then the tender process and trying to get what they think they need for the lowest possible price, it is hardly surprising that so many large software projects fail.

  7. So often work projects get messy not because of what needs to be done but because of the personal issues and interactions that people bring to it- as you describe the competition, measuring, bickering etc. It all takes energy and focus away from the task at hand and brings in much complication.

  8. What this blog clearly reveals:, there are different ways to be together while we work towards a shared goal and how we are makes a huge difference in terms of what we are truly offering.

  9. We spend many hours at work, with our colleagues and others who come into regular contact, and it is very interesting how we often associate this part of our life with stress and think that there’s much to not be happy about. Life is a classroom and there’s much to learn if we can just observe and not react, and work place is a perfect place to exercise that. Being a good student makes life richer.

  10. When we live and express with truth and love, there is so much we can bring to all situations in life that supports everyone to evolve.

  11. Observing what goes on at work, rather than allowing ourselves to get swept up in it all, really helps us to understand what is truly at play. I loved how you acknowledged the need to explore the needs of the client, and being honest about what was achievable within the budget and what was not. When we are prepared to listen and be honest with people it makes for a much more harmonious relationship, both ways.

  12. “When we truly connect to humanity however, we can only provide the simple solutions that will serve all in equality, nothing more and nothing less.” When the connection is made with the client to understand what it is they are wanting and working with them in honesty and realistically appraising the project this prevents so many hassles with budget blowouts and time constraints.

  13. Our work and the workplace change when we connect and truly meet people rather than putting deadlines, rules, security and success first. Everything is about people first and foremost and in the end, no matter how thick the red tape might be.

  14. That it is possible to be in such a complex world and to stay connected with oneself is the message that is needed to be presented, taught, and reflected in all higher learning institutions.

  15. Nico I agree that truly meeting people in their essence that we do business with is a true way to have relationships and support people. Business can be about healing and true connection before we talk products and services. When someone has an experience with a business that delivers true care, clear communication, and integrity it is another way people can experience healing, i.e., to restore their trust and feel valued as an equal.

  16. In a world full of complexity many do not like when simple solutions are presented that actually not only are more effective and efficient but way easy to implement and understand.

    1. Yes Joshua, there is a arrogance around complexity what to me is best explained by when you observe for instance scientist or engineers that are great in expressing their complex ideas but on a human level are unable to connect to the simplicity life in truth is.

  17. Complexities in life do only exist because we have lost our connection with our true selves and with the purpose of our existence here on earth. When we continue to think that we have to improve ourselves from a belief that we are not enough the complexity we have created will continue to exist. Only when we understand that we are already everything that we ever wanted to be, a way of being we only have to return to if we are ready for that, simplicity will return in our lives as this will serve us best.

  18. Meeting one another from person to person and the quality of equality and oneness will lay the foundation for true cooperation instead of each of us working together from our own protected island.

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