In today’s business world, where being busy is a badge of honor, it’s easy to get caught up in the corporate rat race. Sometimes the pressure comes from a demanding organizational culture, sometimes we impose unrealistic expectations upon ourselves to do more, work harder. We feel compelled to achieve more than is humanly possible and feel defeated when we fall short of that.
When we get caught up doing — or thinking — the same thing over and over and over again, we are officially a part of the rat race. Rather than stop and assess our current situation, we continue to stay steeped in our routines and beliefs. We close the door to another perspective. The ramifications of this ‘rat race’ syndrome impacts our ability to be open to ideas, change, and development opportunities.
Recently, I was introduced to some pretty cool rats. Mind you, I never really expected the words ‘cool’ and ‘rats’ to be in the same sentence coming out of my mouth. Rats, well, they are very disgusting. Or so I thought.
As a volunteer at our local shelter, I’ve spent a little time with the rats the past few weeks. I was apprehensive. Would they bite? Or perhaps squirm away, leading me through some wild rat chase through the building? With the encouragement and patient support of the staff, I moved through my tasks. When my hand entered their cage to offer fresh food and water, they nuzzled in close, softly welcoming me. The quick and frequent sniffs of their noses rubbed against my skin, as if to say, “Nice to meet you. How are you today? Thank you for this food.”
I gained a completely new perspective, in only minutes. They are social, clean, and aside from the tail (which is a still a bit of a turn-off to me), they are pretty darn cute. The eyes are sweet and curious and they are genuinely interested in you when you’re in their presence. (More than I can say for some humans I’ve met.)
My nervousness melted away. Instead they made me feel calm. Even happy. I smiled at how my opinion of rats as creepy vermin had dissolved. I’m not saying I’m ready to adopt, but I now completely understand why some people do.
For that, I’m grateful. How wonderful it feels to step off my rat race of misconceptions. Every time we are open to a completely different experience, we grow. These rats have sparked an interest in me to learn more; it is a satisfying reminder that I don’t know what I don’t know, and equally good to feel the delight of new knowledge. Employees and managers who have that thirst for learning and an appetite to expand their horizons are valued in the workplace.
I’m fine if you still think rats are gross. The point isn’t that you agree with me (though I highly recommend you get properly introduced to a rat to see for yourself). But I hope this inspires you to seek out ways to get out of your own ‘rat race.’
What will you do today to get out of your rat race?