People are Not Resources


Someone once told me that they disliked the term, “human resources” because “people are not resources.”

I found that comment, “people are not resources” impossible to understand at the time because I was working for a large corporation in a management track position.  At the same time I couldn’t let it go. It was like one of those frustrating puzzles that you keep returning to in hopes of one day solving.

Our culture holds that just about everything is a means to an end. If you believe this to be true, than, it makes sense that everything, including other human beings, is a resource to be used as needed to obtain a particular objective.

I’ve definitely been guilty of lumping people into two camps: you’re either helping me get what I want or you’re in my way.” And this mindset wasn’t limited to corporate employers. I’ve been caught up in the “it’s all about a successful mission” mindset working for small businesses, working in my own business, and working on personal projects.

And then, over the last few years, my mindset has shifted and the phrase, “people are not resources” suddenly “clicked in.”

What shifted was how I saw myself as a part of the greater whole.

Up until recently, I saw myself as one of many people struggling and competing for what has always felt to be in short supply. We often think of money, recognition and influence as the things for which we are competing.

Like so many of my small business peers, I felt caught up in an unending struggling to compete for the attention of others. And I felt like I was hopelessly outclassed and outnumbered. It felt like there were so many people out there with louder, more persuasive messages.

So often I felt depressed and frustrated. Every once in a while, I’d get hopeful that a coach or guru had a magic bullet that would finally give me the edge I desired. But no one’s magic bullet seemed to work for me.

I finally made the decision that the only way I actually wanted to succeed was by being fully myself. And this decision forced me to do two things:

1. Ask “who am I really?”
2. Focus on the message in my heart rather than the message in my head because I realized who I was would be most clearly articulated from the words of my heart. My head was too easily influenced by the words of others.

As I listened to the humble message in my heart, I became more aware that there was more to me than my skills, ideas, and all the other practical currencies I offer. I became aware that there is a Spirit, call it God or Higher Power or whatever, that is always present and that I am a channel through which its work is accomplished.

I kind of already knew this to be true because when I was engaged in doing what I loved to do most; writing, designing, being with people I really enjoyed, I could sense it was me and at the same time, it was something more than me at work.

But because I wasn’t regularly engaged in these activities, I saw this as a “nice when I can get it” type experience.

Now, I began understanding this actually was me and that if I wasn’t in touch with this spirit, I wasn’t being true to myself. In fact, if this is true for everyone, and I now believe it is, than this meant every human being on this planet is a vessel for a sacred work.

Ultimately, I’ve realized that because each human being is a unique vessel through which our Creator works, no one can be a resource for the attainment of my goals and objectives. They are for the attainment of some greater good which is way beyond me.

Coming back around to my original point at the beginning of this article, I’m not sure the person who made the original comment came to their conclusion the same way I did. However, we would both be in agreement.

I don’t currently find this an easy mindset to maintain. It feels the way it felt when I was learning to ice skate. When I learned to skate I spent most of my time hobbling around on the ice and falling. Every once in a while I’d find my balance and glide smoothly. More often than not, I get lost in my usual “get everything checked off my to do list.” Then I remember to slow down, be mindful, and be in appreciation for what each person I encounter brings.

Despite slowing me down, I am so much happier when I remember to see each person through the eyes of the Divine that it is enough to encourage me to keep practicing.



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