For years I’ve had this gorgeous antique glass bottle beside my sink and the original dish soap under the sink, out of sight. Why? It ‘dignifies’ and adds meaning to the simple task of cleaning the dishes. I was reminded of this recently by a colleague who told me he has changed his frequent handwashing routine into a personal ‘spa’ experience. In other words, he has made this mundane task an opportunity for mindful practice and slowing down.

How can we make the ordinary extraordinary in our daily work?

It might be as simple as remembering that we can make even an ordinary exchange with another person extraordinary by sincerely listening and saying something empathetic or encouraging so that they leave feeling encouraged and better about themselves (and you).

It could mean having the self-awareness to pause and avoid commentary when we haven’t had enough rest and our quality of judgment goes down.

Or, it might mean giving ourselves ‘permission’ to have more margin in our schedule to go for a walk or savour ten minutes of quiet in between meetings – especially when we’re maxed and there’s a lot on our plate or we’re going through a challenging situation.

All these ordinary situations of leadership: interacting with a colleague, handling a situation that requires our assessment and discernment, and dealing with busyness or challenging situations can be made more life-giving or extraordinary by intentionally changing our approach or disposition. We all have the choice to be more ‘present’ in ordinary situations so they are transformed into something extraordinary.