Spirituality in Business: As the Paradigm Shifts
If I were you, perched on the edge of your seat, curious enough to click on the topic of Spirituality and Business, I’d be readying myself for what – I’m not quite sure. I know I’d have a couple questions in mind. I’d be curious about the philosophy or beliefs of this individual. I’d also be curious about what this topic has to do with me, personally. I’d wonder if this is going to be some righteous, woo-woo individual who’s going to preach some dogma about what’s right and what’s wrong in the corporate or business world. Is she going to tell me to meditate or pray before, during and after every meeting? That’s what I would be wondering if I were you.
My beliefs and interpretations regarding spirituality and more specifically, spirituality in business emerged through my own personal experience of exploring the edges of my comfort zone, and also through the empowerment of many individuals who’ve felt the need for a thinking partner as they began to bushwhack a spiritual path of their own. My perspective is pretty simple; Regardless of the context, be in personal or corporate, I define spirituality in the most foundational and pragmatic terms possible. Spirituality is living in faith; faith not as religion but faith as in practicing trust. Shifting from what you know to what you don’t yet know, letting go of what you may be firmly attached to for something that may be tenuous at best, takes faith. I say a leap of faith is the essential and most fundamental practice of spirituality. That’s it!
For me, what’s required to even consider the possibility of engaging in life from a spiritual perspective is the willingness to be curious about who you are and how you be you. It’s being willing to consider cultivating awareness by exploring how you choose to choose what you choose. This practice of being curious leads to self-realization, which leads one along the continuum of enlightenment, one degree at a time. Another aspect of spirituality that’s just as important is the practice of actualizing your self – taking actions in the direction of how you want to be – maybe even who you want to be in the world.
You can hear that I am emphasizing the concept of practice – exercising and developing the muscles required to be curious and cultivate awareness, and to exercise the muscles necessary to put this newfound awareness into action. Both practices take faith and the implementation of our faith leaping muscles.
Here’s a good example:
Research shows that only one person in five find fulfillment in their work. What that means is that to some degree, most of us are unhappy and unfulfilled with our jobs! Is that a spiritual issue?
Let’s say that you are one of those who are unhappy in your job; how does your unhappiness impact on a) your relationship to the work you are doing; b) your relationships with your co-workers, managers, bosses and direct reports; and c) your relationship with yourself, your family and your friends?
When you are unhappy, what’s the quality of that experience? How do you be unhappy? Seriously! Everyone’s answers will be different, but more often than not I hear the following: I am withdrawn; withholding; shut down; unavailable; and numbed out. My creativity disappears; I eat more; exercise less; and I waste a lot of time at work. So what’s that got to do with spirituality?
Here’s another question: If you are one of the unsatisfied, what is the source of that unhappiness or that lack of satisfaction. What is it that creates that lack of fulfillment?
Again, each of us will have our own unique list of responses to this question, and what I hear quite often is: I really don’t care about the product or service of my company; the company treats its employees like we are robots; This place has no soul; I’m here for the money and the prestige of my position but I have no passion for what I’m doing; No one listens to my ideas; I’m not being challenged in the way that was promised; I’m afraid that if I leave my current position I’ll never have the stability or security I now have; I can’t make the kind of money I want doing what I’d really like to be doing, so I’m stuck.
Being stuck, unhappy and unfulfilled actually are choices we make based on our wants and desires. Too often we have more than one desire that wants fulfillment, and through the practice of choice-making we have to priorities our desires. Listing our hierarchy of desires will give us a good picture of what has us choose to choose what we choose.
It doesn’t matter if you are an individual, a small business or a large corporation; on an ongoing basis you will be choosing to choose what you choose in service to your hierarchy of desires. The questions is: Is your choice-making process currently working for you? If it’s not working for you, would you consider seeing things differently in service to having more fulfillment?
You can say no, I’m not willing to see it different. That’s good to know. However, I may ask another question: what has you say no – what has you not willing to see it differently?
Our commitment to limiting ourselves to only what we know keeps things just as they are. Just the willingness to consider possibility takes faith. It causes change and disruptions. Most of us would like a change but we don’t want the disruption that comes with change. For many of us, maintaining invulnerability is at the top of our list of priorities. Exploring, experimenting, expanding our comfort zones requires a willingness to take risks, to be vulnerable. All new beginnings require vulnerability and a leap of faith.
Research and statistics indicate that kindness and compassion within the work environment is profitable; people are happier, more creative and are more likely to stay longer with their current company. Great! With all of this being true, how does an individual, a business or organization begin bringing spirituality into the work place? From my perspective it’s best to start with the practice of being curious about how you be and what you do. Enjoy the adventure!
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