The mere utterance of spirituality in the same breath as business brings a cricket like response and uncomfortable body language. Some people completely stay clear of the fact I have bring it up or, my favorite, change the subject. When I am asked if I'm a spiritual person, I answer honestly-yes. I don't go into details of my experience nor talents unless they ask because the simple fact of me admitting I am a spiritual individual have people wondering if I am part of "some organization" or a cult.
What do I mean when I say, "Spirituality in Business"? I am not referring to religion. I feel spirituality is entirely based on the individual; it does not rely on an external organization. It is living life with heart rather than just superficially and an evidence based perspective. Spirituality can involve a belief in a God. For others, it takes different forms. But in any case, spirituality is an experience that there is something more to life than just our narrow, ego-oriented view of the known.
I have found people who have developed the spiritual side of their life typically have a quality of lightness, gratitude and humor. They bring a sense of "all-rightness" and optimism to life, even in the face of problems. A "what is, is what it is" view to situations-moving to action to discover a solution. They don’t take themselves nor life too seriously. They are fully alive, and they radiate this aliveness to others.
Naturally, business and spirituality clash. Business is often considered hard, mechanical, hierarchical, controlling, head based, evidence based and determined primarily by financial considerations. Spiritual people, though conscious of the fact a business must attach itself to the above, have a much more humanistic approach. The clash between these two points of view is a healthy one. Business people sometimes forget that it’s impossible (or at best, grossly inefficient) to run a business without spirit.
Though still looked at as taboo, the interest in spirituality in business is growing. I believe it is because more businesses are wanting to create an environment that not only is about health and wellness. More has come out in the past 5 years that health and wellness are byproducts of understanding oneself and how as humans serve a bigger purpose. Much of the interest comes from people who have done personal spiritual work and are interested in bringing some part of that experience into the workplace. As a result, more and more businesses will start to achieve success in the financial and the more humanistic realms simultaneously.
WHAT DO SPIRITUAL ORGANIZATIONS LOOK LIKE?
Good question! You tell me because as far as I can see they look like any other ordinary organization. People come to work, make telephone calls, talk to each other, make sales, and do all the normal things that people in business do. People have hard times, fight with each other, get their ego’s bruised at the water cooler or the near by coffee shop – just as in any other business. How could it ever be different?
The differences between spiritual organizations and others are very subtle and they have a great deal to do with a higher level of consciousness. How they react to the events that surround them. In a spiritual organization, people are much more connected and clearer that they are there of their own choosing and they are the masters of their own fate. People are much less likely to think that they are victims because they will take the action of asking for help. People tend to treat each experience as an opportunity for personal growth. Thus when they get angry or their ego gets bruised, they are more able to work with those situations in constructive ways.
Thus a spiritual organization differs from the more ordinary kind in that it has much better "intuitive-righting" mechanisms. When something goes wrong, people have a natural tendency to bring it back on course, even if that takes a little emotional risk. The emotional aspect is seen as chance to see and ask what is going on.
In other organizations, everywhere you look things have gone wrong – people don’t keep agreements so it breeds distrust, people are angry with each other, teamwork is inadequate and head based, managers treat their subordinates like children rather than delegating responsibility. These problems get locked in because it takes too much risk to confront and correct them. Overall there is a lower level of consciouness.
The individual employees practice spirituality have greater self-mastery and higher self-respect, and thus will not allow themselves to be imposed upon.
These two forces create a much higher chance that problems will get confronted and corrected, and contribute to the organization’s "intuitive-righting" mechanism.
Another characteristic of a spiritual organization is that it has a visionary focus. The organization as a whole has a vision, one that the employees are attracted to. People are there for a common reason, a reason that excites them and causes them to want to put in their own energy. People feel ownership and commitment to a common purpose.
CREATING A SPIRITUAL ORGANIZATION
There is no one formula. You decide where you want to go and go there. The decision of what direction to go is the missing piece generally.
This is why visioning work is so important in building a spiritual organization. It creates a higher level of consciousness, limitless potential and connectedness. Developing a shared vision that people can participate in and support-along with including some reference to both personal need and organizational needs is a great start.
In practice, the process of creating this vision does not have to be overburdened with trappings of spirituality. Indeed, the qualities that develop a spiritual organization are quite ordinary – though I must say, easier to talk about than to practice. They include create a shared vision, maintain a high level of individual and organizational integrity. Keep agreements. Create an organizational culture that values service, excellence, dedication, contact with the customer, and action over personal advancement and personal gain. Create cooperation, communication, and community. Create a supportive environment for the individual. Create an organizational culture that supports personal growth.
Practicing these injunctions creates a vessel of the same substance as "spirituality" – whether or not the word spirituality is used. In the realm of the spiritual, action and a high level of consciousness are everything; words are nothing.
One important caution if you are trying to apply these principles: don't walk into work and flip the entire script. The clash of business and spiritual need to go hand in hand in order to find harmony. Find the right balance for your business.
Spirituality pertains to an experience of spirit, and I believe that the business community is going to see that spirit is a matter of utmost concern to them. If people are not enthusiastic about their work, the work will suffer. We are coming into a time in which it is obvious the old model of business structure is becoming prehistoric. A new way of structuring our organizations is vital for our happiness and productivity.