Spirit Work

Spirit In the Workplace 450x323Business is in the business of change. Changing raw materials into finished goods.  Effort into services. Motion into transport. Time into money. Creativity into strategic advantage.

Management is the discipline of coordinating all this change.  And the workplace and the market is its context.

You got to have a little spark if you’re going to set a fire

But you also must provide some fuel and give that fire some oxygen.  It takes the heat of motivation, the fuel of fully engaged creative thought, and an air of inspiration in a controlled burn to launch ahead of your competition and stay there without blowing up in this competitive arms race.

Most organizations in today’s service economy focus only on the processes, and forget the need for Spirit and motivation.

But modern humans suffer from a great loneliness of Spirit.  We are naturally “meaning making” creatures and when deprived of the opportunity to experience a meaningful purpose in our work and in our life, we are left feeling empty.  This emptiness causes suffering, depression, stress, states of illness, absenteeism, and leads us to disengage further from our work in a vicious cycle.

Sure, we get by.  We have to collect a paycheck to survive, but many workers live as if they are only working for the weekend, their vacation, their retirement.

I believe that life is too short to live a meaningless life.  And Business is too meaningful not to have meaningful work.

Meaning comes from Spirit

By Spirit I don’t intend some abstract idea about the soul or some ghost. Rather I mean that we each reside within a network of community, something larger than ourselves to which we belong.  For some this may be a religion, but for others it might just be a family or community or a work team.

When the Spirit moves in you, you are moved — motivated to make a difference in the world. This provides the oxygen and the heat.  Spirit is that relationship that exists when we recognize that we belong to something greater than ourselves, and we are fulfilling our important values. Values once were a core part of our discussion of business in the early part of the last century.  But with the rise of Marketing selling the cult of the individual, we broke away from so many of our relations and separated from those values.

Families today move away from their origins.  Work is held separate from friendships.  Even our emotional hearts are kept at abeyance from our logical minds, at least they are “supposed to be” when we are at work.  Face-to-face, mammalian communication has been replaced  with asynchronous email, texting, Facebook and Twitter posts.    All of this dissociation goes against our healthy nature.

Because we spend more than half of our waking hours at work these days, I believe we must correct these social imbalances.  To live a meaning-filled life, we must connect beyond our little ego selves to belong to a purpose bigger than that.  This is why I believe we must bring Spirit back into the workplace.  When we work from love of our coworkers, we treat them as the special (dare I say sacred?) individual humans that they are.  We feel safe and secure and thus are willing to be authentically who we are.   This is the meaning of, “To thine own self be true.”

It is only under these conditions that we can be flexible, and secure, and creative enough to change with the ever-changing marketplace.   This new definition of Spiritual connection is the prescription we need to naturally become motivated, engaged, healthy, resilient, creative, secure, and effective as we build a life worth living — a life of unabashed well-being and productivity for the greatest possible number of people.