Don't Let Familiarity Blind You to the Humanity of Work by Karen Walker

Operating on auto-pilot in our working lives is common, when the people, place, and routines are familiar. Bringing the heightened state of awareness we have when travelling in strange places and being with strangers, to work would create magical opportunities. An everyday receptiveness to knowing more about ourselves and others in our working lives, leading to positive changes in our behaviour and beliefs.

The Art and Joy of Travel

“And if travel is like love, it is, in the end, mostly because it is a heightened state of awareness, in which we are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed. That is why the best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end.” Pico Iyer

Travel is a long seduction, one of anticipating the emotions we hope to experience, in addition to envisioning the wonders we'll see.

The reality is often quite different, being surprised by the depth of feeling and awe experienced, at a place and/or with people, that wasn't part of our holiday dreaming and planning. A chance encounter, or what usually happens with me, getting lost but at the same time finding myself - geographically and emotionally - somewhere truly unexplored and profound.

And sometimes we feel let down by what we thought would be the highlight of our travels.

Bringing the Art of Travel, to Work

Imagine bringing even a fraction of that heightened state of awareness, to work every day. Imagine not preempting what we think we will experience at work, and how we will feel. Approaching every meeting, encounter, person, collaboration, email, phone call, and task, with a consciousness of your own, and others, emotions, sensitivities and circumstances, in that moment.

What if we turned up to the weekly team meeting, and for once, didn't anticipate it would be a waste of time? Maybe if we acted as if this was our very first experience of the meeting, we might be open to speaking up and doing something differently, that made it more meaningful? Not just for us, but for everyone.

The Familiar is Not Always the Same

We all have good and bad days, days when everything feels easy, and others when just getting through the day is hard. So, whilst we may think work is a known and well-explored destination, emotionally it is not. Every day we need to be mindful and receptive to what may look familiar, but may feel different. Are you okay, is your colleague okay, or is something troubling your manager?

Are you consciously tuning into and paying attention to, the humanity you're part of at work, every day?

Imagine what we could discover, and achieve together if we did.


Karen Walker is an Advisor, Expert and Operative in Strategy Execution, the series of decisions and actions undertaken to turn strategic visions of organisations into reality. An evolving journey of understanding possibilities and using situational awareness to adapt tactics and goals to realise maximum value. 

A specialist in the casino and gaming industry, with extensive experience in the implementation of new and innovative practices and the establishment of greenfield operations, Karen’s career spans senior operational management and leadership, program director, project and change management, and business transformation lead roles, across a number of sectors.