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When you have an obsession with someone or something, it is basically an imbalance; one of thought, deed, word, action, influence, attentions on that object to the sacrifice of other and more important things, such as job tasks or house tasks.

When that happens it is time to get counseling, to talk with others, and the boss if you are fortunate to do so, if the obsessive object is where you work. Having a chat with people you trust can be as the opening of a book; once you are on the right page, that with the information you seek, you know it.

Today I went through exactly that process. The past couple of days, I sensed something was out of balance, something in physical exercise yes, something in the fleshly appetites, yes, but there were other things that muddled my brain processes, that addled and clouded my thoughts, that deeply upset my sleep, my views of work, of just about everything that I considered as vital and wonderful. In short there were signs of depression, of a mental recession of the caliber I have not been caught up in since I moved to Chicago. The first winter I was here and went through a bout of SAD, I had to battle my way through it pretty much solo, as at that time I knew very few people here who could be called upon for counseling or dealing with “the holidays” in a way that I figured would be satisfied.

I got through that few weeks by singing the hit tune “Route 66” until I was tired of it, but that did the job. I completed the seasonal job and went on to other things…and I am still in Chicago and enjoying all this great city has to offer. I am in a totally different environment now, a place I like, and I enjoy the people I work with.

The problem many people face when at the workplace is that they, well, like someone they work with a little too much, to the point of doubting, fears, worries, concerns and other mental issues that are so deep and heavy that they begin to do the worst possible thing. These ramblings of the mind and pullings at the heart start to interfere with workplace performance. In short they interfere with productivity. And if you are a worker committed to doing the best job you can, doing that which you are assigned and endeavoring to do whatever you can to make the business successful, that can be a real shocker when the truth comes out.

Obsessions are bad for workplace production, in short. You can get so hooked on a person or a task or an idea that you get on one track and lose sight of other things you can and indeed should be doing. Recently I was pretty nearly to being prodded into finding something to do because my mind stuck in a rut dealing with someone I like. Once I got to working at the different task I felt better and yes, I felt productive. There is something else, though, when one’s Christian principles are considered in such a light; obsessions are idolatrous and filled with vices and troubles, adversities and problems. Focusing too much on people or things is against what I learned as a good ideal for being a Christian.

In the Book of Judges, when the children of Israel made or followed or served images and false gods, nothing but trouble awaited them. Their rulers did evil in the sight of the LORD, they did not do right by God who had brought them out of so much trouble and fear, and they… well, they slacked on the job is what. Their work was to follow the word of the LORD, the tenets and principles given them decades and generations before when they were delivered with generous spoils from the slaving hands of the Egyptians. Those later generations did not follow rightly in the sight of the LORD, and they were called on the carpet for it. They were beset with war, death, pestilence, harshness, slavery and burned cities. They paid dearly for slacking on the job… for not serving properly the LORD who called to them, protected them and provided for them.

In this time when production is talked of as going down in some ways and going up in other ways, what turns out to be the most important way? Production of material goods happens all the time; production of a good character takes a lot longer than making a new car to sell. Building a good character takes years, decades, patience… practice constantly. It is not just going to worship and hearing a sermon and expecting to know everything and live by what the leader says straight out. You must think that being productive is what you are there at the workplace to do, or at anywhere that you have made a commitment to do something. The Israelites suffered because they slacked on the job; and I know what it means to suffer on account of slacking.

My good character principles went by the wayside because my energies were not properly focused. It is something, quite amazing really, what a poor or troubled conscience does to one’s entire being. When the causes are found out and all that ties in with those causes, be those things subtle or overt, it is then that solutions can be found – in this case to slacking on the job, or poor productivity. The obsession can be quelled, the concerns conquered, by looking at the field from fresh viewpoints.

You can always find something to do on the job. No place is too neat or organized or free of dust that something cannot be done to make it look even better. Small businesses are chock full of things to do to make the place better. Clean a window, rearrange a display case, do a window display, dust or mop or sweep. Check the mail, go pick up a shipment, or rework a clothes rack. Polish a mirror, straighten a crooked picture or call a customer to check on an order, whether or not they have received it or are satisfied with it. The fact is take after a good little phrase my grandmother uses when it seems nothing is around to do, and that is simply “do something, do something”! Or you can figure out just by looking around that, as my father says, “There is always room for improvement.”

If you are not sure that there is something you can do, ask your manager or boss if there is something they are thinking about and might need help with. There might be a task that someone else cannot do but that, after all, you can do. After all, brilliant diamonds do not mine themselves; they do not cut and polish themselves or set themselves in beautiful rings on their own. Someone has to take that diamond in the rough and turn it into something that will be wonderful and sparkling, will throw off spikes of color and brilliance and perhaps grace someone’s finger on a wedding day, or grace a gift for an anniversary. We are all of us diamonds in the rough… and we all need a little help getting trim and polished and set in the right place sometimes. There is no harm in asking for help – the stupid question is the one you do not ask. The right question is the one you do ask.

There is always room for improvement, so do something.

Divi Logan for EDUSHIRTS, Nashville and Chicago, ©2012.

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