Every organization whether it be for profit or non-profit are in their line of business in order to gain something – it’s most likely in their vision statement. My vision statement, for example is – the fulfillment of the human spirit through the empowerment of every individual on the planet. This vision requires an acquisition of fulfillment and personal empowerment.
Whether to gain access to clean water, acquire political power, or to expand one’s capacity to lead effectively, we are all out to gain.
With the economic turn, the way it’s going, businesses are facing major dilemmas. On the one hand they – the choice-makers are facing potential loss of everything they’ve gained. Too often this drives them to act in ways that will hopefully allow them to not lose anything. Fear too often drives them to act in haste, making choices that may not be in alignment with their original vision. They are afraid. People make interesting choices when they are afraid.
We like to think of ourselves as gainfully employed or engaged, yet few of us want to associate ourselves with words such greed. However too often we are unconscious of when and how we withhold what we’ve gained out of a fear we aren’t even aware of. Our greediness is often disguised.
On the other hand of the dilemma, there are those companies that are looking at their circumstances not from a fear-based perspective but from one that can benefit many during this time of adversity?
When we start to shift our contexts we see what’s to be gained – not from fear-based greed, but from some place other than fear – generosity.
Less is More
Do you remember the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, in A Christmas Carole? Scrooge’s greed wasn’t limited to money. He was greedy with his heart. We find out why, as we’re given the opportunity to witness specific events in his life that created devastating loneliness and heart break. Because of these events he chose to withhold and be miserly with his gains, which greatly impacted on many people.
Like Scrooge, every one of us experiences, to some degree, loneliness and heartbreak. We experience, like Scrooge the inevitability of abandonment, betrayal and rejection. And, much like Ebenezer, we bury the pain deep inside, distancing ourselves that pain, which wreaks havoc on the façade we’ve invented. This façade has us look and feel powerful and invulnerable, yet inevitably we find, as Scrooge found that this limits the potential to fulfill our true potential.
Fear is an enormously powerful muscle that is exercised far too frequently; so much so that we are unconscious as to how much it impacts on our choice to enjoy being engaged in the business of doing business. Our fears limit the pleasures of relating, connecting and sharing ourselves and our talents in service of our vision, which inspired us in the first place.
All of us – the Human Race – have the capacity to overcome the adversities of our pasts. Hiding our hearts in a scrooge-like fashion, though, is not the way to do it, but practicing generosity can be.
The Muscle of Generosity
This muscle called generosity is always with us. It just hasn’t had a whole lot of exercise.
Exercising this muscle generates the experience of abundance, openness and allowing, innovation and expansion. Scrooge found this place after his journey with the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future. He came to see that he had nothing to lose and had so much to gain in discarding his lengthy practice of greed.
As the paradigm shifts, we are so much more capable of witnessing our attachments to our gains, our fear of losing what we’ve gained and of finding that through some playful curiosity we can discover other ways to gain without fear of losing what we’ve gained.
Those committed to bringing spirituality into the workplace may feel like they have an uphill battle ahead of them. Simple exercises now will, however generate the necessary strength, courage and wisdom to engage in what’s to come. You will find the shift easy and effortless – trust me!
Just for one day I want you to try something (Maybe for some of us, it will be just an hour or a minute.): Notice opportunities to share a smile. Notice who you are willing to share a smile with, and from whom you withhold a smile. That’s it! That’s the practice.
You’re probably asking: “What’s a smile got to do with generosity?” Good question. I could explain it to you but it wouldn’t be the same as having you experience what happens when you smile. Plus, this practice isn’t about whether you smile more or less. It’s about noticing when you choose to allow yourself to smile and when you choose to withhold a smile. It’s about noticing how you are choosing to choose to smile. This choice-making process underlies so much of your being with fear, with gain and with spirituality.
Notice what it feels like inside you, without judging or assessing yourself. Our actions can be so automatic sometimes that we aren’t even aware of the thoughts or feelings we’re having underneath.
How can we be the generosity we so wish to experience?
I have only four suggestions: 1) Smile more often, even when you are challenged by your circumstances; 2) Notice your desire to complain about anything and everything; 3) Notice if what you are doing inspires generosity of spirit in your own heart. If it doesn’t inspire generosity of spirit in your own heart, consider doing something else.
Know that each and every one of us comes into our work environment anticipating and hoping that we will experience generosity of spirit from those we engage with during the course of our day. Like Scrooge, many of us don’t have the capacity to even share a smile. Even though it may be disappointing, see if you can share compassion to those who have less capacity to be giving of their hearts. Your compassion may be the most generous gift of the day. You may gain far more from that activity than you ever imagined.
Enjoy the Exploration!