Several years ago I made a conscious decision to work with clients in a new way actually talking about spiritual values and the importance of remembering spirit on job search as well as in the workplace. The attitude that work is " over here" and spiritual life is " over there " prevents us from engaging life to its fullest write Justine and Michael Toms in their book True Work. " The result is that work is not fully integrated into our lives, and we wind up living at the margins of our lives." Whether on job search or in the work place we all have to deal with the harsh realities of doing business: time constraints, imbalances of power, stress, conflicts, egos, small and large injustices, deadlines. This being the case, how do we integrate spiritual values into our work life? Here are a few practical suggestions.
If you are in a difficult work situation, look at the big picture. Underemployed unemployed, or in a hostile work environment, no matter how awful your work predicament you can find some blessings to acknowledge. Begin keeping a gratitude journal..Write a list of things in your life that you feel most grateful for on a daily basis. It could be the beauty of a sunset or a relationship, good health, the laughter of a child… Emphasizing the importance of gratitude is life changing. Pay attention and be grateful for the positive energy initiative, and creativity that occur when following this practice.
Slow down and listen to spirit. The velocity and intensity of peoples' lives come from more directions and with greater speed than ever before. Technology offers us minute by minute communication with the world around us via e-mail, fax, cell phones, pagers, and more. We must create a space and time to go inward and connect with spirit. There are many forms of meditation: each providing a unique experience that suits different personality preferences A simple yet very effective one involves doing the following on a daily basis. Sit down. Sit still and upright. Close your eyes lightly. Sit relaxed but alert. Silently, interiorly begin to say a single word or phrase that has meaning for you. Listen to it as you say it, gently but continually. Do not think or imagine anything-spiritual or otherwise. If thoughts and images come, these are distractions at the time of meditation, so keep returning to simply saying the word.or phrase. Father Laurence Freeman O.S.B. says " the problem with meditation is that it is too simple. The difficulty for us educated specialized; skeptical and self-analytical as we are is to accept its simplicity." Remember that there is no " Getting it right. " Just do it.
Quit comparing yourself with others. Each of us is equipped with all the qualities necessary to live out our unique vocational calling, but it is our job to develop those qualities. Instead of desiring to be what we are not we must learn to recognize, honor, and utilize who we are. This is a challenge that requires honest intention. Our culture give us powerful messages with a model based on power, money, fame, physical appearance, and social status. We must learn to construct a new and individualized model based only on what is true for us. Make a comprehensive inventory of your outstanding personality traits as well as your values aptitudes, and interests. Friends, family and /or a professional career consultant may be helpful in this process. Revisit your list often and begin to benchmark occasions where you have been able to utilize this inventory. At the same time address areas that might be improved or enhanced by further education, training, or personal development. Keep in mind that our biggest strengths can also provide areas for personal growth.
Get clear on your relationship with money. Seldom is money discussed in this culture. People are encouraged to tell about their divorce, abuse, and other relationship issues, but nothing is so secret or personal as how much money we make, what our homes cost, or the amount we have in the bank and in investments. Yet, at the root of many career problems lies the key issue of money. Career counselor Pamela Klainer says that money is almost always the silent subtext to stories about work and career. How much do we really want? How much are we willing to give up in order to get it Do we have enough money? What is enoughness? Before these questions can honestly and effectively be addressed it may be helpful to look at your beliefs and attitudes about money. Most of us got these messages in childhood. Begin writing a money autobiography documenting your life long relationship with money. Begin with your first memories concerning money. When do you first remember having money of your own? How was money discussed in your family? Can you think of how you spent the first money you made? Recall concrete examples rather than specifics. Then begin to examine your fears about money. Have you worried about: becoming a bag lady, not being able to send your children to college, not being able to help your parents financially, not being able to support your family. To change our belief system and remove our fears about money we must first look at them. It is only then that we can begin to make conscious choices about what we want to strive for and how hard we are willing to work.
Embrace conflict rather than resist it. Workplace conflicts are inevitable, complex, and difficult to solve. You would think that given the certainty of conflict we would make understanding and handling conflict a major priority in our lives. Yet rarely do we understand it; instead we fervently work to avoid and resist it. Most of us view conflict as a contest with winners and losers, when it is really about acknowledging and appreciating differences. When facing conflict take a moment to become centered-breath Use the antidotes of kindness, love, and generosity. Examine your own perceptions, motivations, and projections concerning the person you are in conflict with. Seek to understand. Allow differences to fade and similarities to come forth. None of these suggestions are easy follow; but if it is your intention to respond to conflict with good will, the space necessary for a positive outcome will be created.. Seek ways to serve others. When we truly serve, we act out of our internal calling to be a part of something bigger, rather than our external need for recognition. Service infers an equality and connectedness Opportunities for service are limitless. Child welfare, poverty, education, healthcare, environment, mental health, housing the penal system, family violence ,prejudice ---are just some of the areas needing volunteer service. Ask yourself what situation or need in your community, nation, or world moves you most to want to act? What is keeping you from moving forward? Many workplaces today support activities like Meals on Wheels, Habitat for Humanity, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Child Advocacy,ect. If your company or organization does not, perhaps this might be an opportunity for you to begin such a alliance with a non-profit. Remember too that service can be as simple as the way you respond to an individual or situation as well as an organized activity.
Although the workplace is seen by many as an improbable environment for spiritual development, many of us are no longer willing to tolerate the spit between our jobs and our spirit. Matthew Fox-An excommunicated Catholic priest and author of The Reinvention of Work Declared that business, not academia or organized religion, is most likely to be the cultural force that " bring spirituality back into the world."