Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Cleaning as Practice

Cleaning is a humble activity but it can be a rewarding activity. Personally, I do not think anyone should do cleaning full time for the rest of their lives and we encourage our staff to have something else going on in their lives than cleaning as people who do, do better in cleaning. However, while engaged in cleaning, I think it is worthwhile to do it as a practice, a place to hone skills that are required in other domains. At Zenith Cleaners, we have always maintained that cleaning is much more than cleaning. As someone engaged in every aspect of cleaning, I think it can be a practice that helps develop vital skills, if one is attuned to learning even from humble activities and one does not think that the cleaning activity somehow diminishes them..

In cleaning, there are opportunities to stretch yourself mentally, physically and spiritually. Recently, we started a new cleaning engagement which I assigned to myself. I was almost certain at the beginning that it was impossible to complete the tasks within the time that we needed to complete them to have a profitable relationship. But I decided to take a risk by allowing myself to think that I could complete the required tasks in about 60% of the time it would normally take without compromising on quality. I set that goal for myself and was able to achieve it consistently, without compromising on quality. This required stretching myself - improving my speed while remaining present so as not to miss anything. Achieving that goal required practicing how to do more with less (less time, less resources, etc.)

I am presently in transition to a new project and I am glad for the opportunity to practice much needed skills: concentration, operating under a tight time and resource budget, improvisation, practicing presence, testing and stretching my limits. I think of Karate Kid, learning how to fight by waxing cars. It seems to me that approach is much more rewarding for everyone than if he simply went to the gym or a training arena to train his hands.

Cleaning is not just about keeping someone else's space clean. Depending on one's perspective, the cleaner may benefit much more from the process than the beneficiary of the cleaning task and I think understanding and experiencing ways a cleaner may benefit from the activity makes it much more rewarding for everyone. As a cleaner, you probably will not be cleaning for the rest of your life but while you are doing it, why not fully participate and experience what makes cleaning rewarding for you.