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The Demon Barber of your Workplace

August 22, 2011

“Attend the tale of Sweeney Todd
His skin was pale and his eye was odd
He shaved the faces of gentlemen
Who never thereafter were heard of again
He trod a path that few have trod
Did Sweeney Todd
The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.”

“The Ballad of Sweeney Todd” By Stephen Sondheim


We had a rousing kick-off this morning to the fantastic Illinois SHRM State Conference.  Close to 800 HR professionals have made the trip to northeast Illinois (up from 600 last year – wow!) to learn, listen and network.  The general session room is being held in the theatre at Drury Lane where a production of Sweeney Todd is currently running. 

My friend Ryan Estis got us moving with a discussion about Passion on Purpose: Winning with a Passion Culture. If you don’t already, you most definitely need to go and follow his blog.

While he shared a lot of great content and really got us thinking, there was one moment during his session that stood out for me.  He challenged (and yes, I do consider it a challenge) the audience to think/reflect back on a time in our professional careers when we were having our best experience at work.  How do we replicate that moment?  How can we close that gap between what that moment ‘was’ and recreate it now and in the future?

“Work is an emotional experience” said Ryan. 

Think about that.  We can’t turn our emotions off when we come to work, nor, dare I say, should we.  It’s our emotions that make us human and shouldn’t we be able to bring our whole selves to work with us each day?  And shouldn’t our employees be able to do the same?  Too often we have managers or organizational constraints cultures that take the stance that the business of business is SERIOUS business.  And then they proceed to suck all the passion, emotions and life out of the staff members who make up their workforce.


Now Sweeney Todd brought his emotions to work at the barbershop every day.  He grieved over the loss of his wife and daughter and sought revenge against the men and the system who had done him a great injustice.  His emotions at work led to, well, lots of bloodshed.

But he was passionate.  You gotta give him that.

Damn – I sure hope we’re not having meat pies for lunch.

One Comment leave one →
  1. HRBR permalink
    August 22, 2011 10:49 am

    Great post. I agree…work is more like the Hokey-Pokey line “You put your whole self in…”–we are emotional beings and whether organizations want the whole person or not that’s what we get. I find it nice to be in a work environment where your whole self is accepted. We are all human. That’s what it’s all about.

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