Desk Photos, Work-Life Separation, and Character

I’m undertaking a new writing challenge: write one post a day for as many days as possible based on things at my desk. This is day 5 of that challenge. 

By my desk at work I have a string of photos hung on twine by clothespins.

Many of these photos are personal. Hanging them up has marked a bit of a shift for my workspace. Before, my coworkers could only have discovered my life outside of work by asking. Now everyone who passes by my desk gets a little glimpse of the things that have made up my life.

There are probably at least two schools of thought on this: you might argue that it’s best to keep work and personal life separate. This approach has its advantages, but it loses something. When we compartmentalize life, we can end up compartmentalizing our character and our values.

That’s what I fear. We already live in a world with enough division. What these photos do – beyond just decorating my desk – is to remind me who I am and what I have beyond just this job.

I have a picture of my farmer grandfather that reminds me to work hard, stay positive, and show kindness and respect.

I have a picture of the river I grew up on that reminds me of my roots, remind me of beauty, and remind me that I have a home to return to if ever I need it.

I have pictures of my friends to remind me that I’m loved by good people.

I have pictures of good times with my coworkers that show me the bonds I have with my colleagues as humans, not just as instruments for getting things done.

All those eyes on me remind me that I must be the same man in and out of the office. They stress-test my integrity and give me new fuel for the work.

They also remind me that I am a whole human being, not just an employee. That, in turn, is something that I think makes me a better employee.

Photo by sarandy westfall on Unsplash

James Walpole

James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, and perpetual apprentice. You're reading his blog right now, and he really appreciates it. Don't let it go to his head, though.

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