Quicksand and Food Fights

When I was a child, quicksand seemed like a major problem that everyone needed to worry about. From the 1960s to the 1980s, characters throughout popular culture – in movies, tv shows, books, video games, and comic books – were almost certain to encounter quicksand at some point, with peril sure to follow. Over the last 25 years, the use of quicksand in pop culture has fallen (or should that be sunk) dramatically, but if you’re in the generation that grew up consuming media where quicksand featured so prominently, you’d be forgiven for having a small question in the back of your mind every time you are about to step onto some wet sand all these years later.

Food fights also seemed like they would play a much larger role in life than reality bared out – after all, how many food fights have you been in? In real life, throwing food has now become a form of political protest, but many of us have carried thoughts of hurling pudding and frosting-laden cake across a large dining hall far beyond our teenage years. So if we’ve held onto such inoccuous thoughts like these… what other beliefs have we carried into our adult working life?

Chances are, your views of work, the value you place on your career – perhaps even your chosen career path – come from your childhood beliefs, your upbringing, the culture you consumed, and your life/family experiences. That doesn’t mean that our beliefs are as off base as our beliefs about the prevelance of quicksand and food fights, but it might mean that your beliefs are different than those of the people you work with? Did your life experience teach you to put up clear boundaries between work and personal life? To be guarded with personal information? To treat people kindly with baked goods, or kind words? To work as hard as possible to get the job done, even if that means working beyond the standard hours of the work week? Chances are good that you work with people whose life experiences – and therefore their beliefs about work – are very different than your own. Such interactions can be surprising and challenging. But perhaps it’s no different than someone who’s always seen quicksand as something to be afraid of meeting someone who grew up without fear, either because they knew they were unlikely to ever encounter it, or they knew how to escape it.

How can this idea help us in our workplace this week?

This Week’s Tips:

Reflect on your own – and other people’s – “quicksand and food fights” beliefs this week:

  1. Ask yourself what your own “quicksand and food fights” beliefs are, and where they came from. What do you believe about work? About your career? What value does it hold for you? How much of this did you inherit from your family life growing up? Or from the culture around you? How much of this do you freely choose as an adult?
  2. Ask how your actions reflect your “quicksand and food fights” beliefs. What actions do you take as a result of your beliefs? Are there other actions you would like to take?
  3. Pay attention to your colleagues actions. Which of these might stem from their own “quicksand and food fights” beliefs? Perhaps your collagues place a lot of value on empathy. Perhaps they place a lot of value on working quickly, or independently. If your colleagues share their life experiences with you, listen – perhaps this informs how they work and interact with you.

Try these out this week, and let us know how it goes in our Facebook group! We’d love to hear from you. As always, you can subscribe to our feed here, or sign up for our weekly newsletter to get these articles directly in your inbox.

Published by Ian Jackson

Ian Jackson is the founder of Building Bridges Leadership, which works with individuals, teams, and organizations to create authentic community in the workplace. He also writes children's fiction and teaches creative writing.

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