Life rarely slips quietly into simple boxes. More often we wrestle mightily with our conceptions of reality, hoping to quickly get a handle on them and nail them down… so we can get on with real living.
At least that’s what happens when crisis hits or we weary from the overwhelming and incessant changes in our lives. The wonder of sunlight on life’s rippling waters fade, and we pull up the covers so we can settle into something familiar and comfortable.
Today’s fast paced, attention-demanding world of flickering pixels has changed daily life for the majority of Americans almost over-night. Add this to the economy, diverse intergenerational workplaces, any many do not cope well in the corporate environment. All this affects personal and professional lives, both of which bleed more an more into one another as technology blurs boundaries of all kinds.
But change is the constant in our lives, even when we insist “nothing ever changes.”
Traditionally religious figures enter our lives when we face unplanned critical moments in our lives or during key milestones such as birth, marriage, death, or when we find ourselves unexpectedly in the emergency room of the hospital, on the battlefield, as we deal with our loved ones reaching the end-days in a hospice and more. While chaplains and religious figures apply their craft and tease out those otherwise uncomfortable and awkward moments into something that makes sense, even creates something of value and beauty in seemingly impossible moments, we “get back to real life” as soon as we can.
Sadly, for the work-a-day world, we continue to act as if our human potential has little to do with our spiritual and emotional selves. The findings of an MIT Sloan Review study* shows that what people long for at work, and what people experience, remains a gaping hole… and surely a huge opportunity for those companies and individuals who care to look reality squarely in the eye:
….when asked how much and which parts of themselves they were able to express at work, the interviewees noted that they were able to express their “total intelligence” and “complete creativity” significantly more than their “total feelings,” “complete soul,” or “full humor.”
They clearly indicated that they were more able to show their intelligence than their emotions or feelings at work. This finding is not surprising since it aligns with the prevalent design and expectation in current workplaces. What is unfortunate, however, but still not surprising, is what people report as a separation between their brains and feelings or emotions, which contrasts sharply with what gives them the most meaning in their jobs — the opportunity to realize full potential as a person. Unless “full potential” is narrowly defined, which it isn’t in the total context of the interviews, this means that most people will never realize their full potential at work.
Knowing this, and having worked in the pressing realms of international, inter-religious peacebuilding, helps underscore the value of bringing a little “spiritual leaven” to the corporate mix. Not so much that one turns the wheels of industry into religion, yet just enough to make work fulfilling, meaningful and humanized.
In this fascinating area of human life, even when we decide we “want” it, next arises the question of “how?”
As for so many areas of expertise, even the experts are learning. Many are still stretching the boundaries of what they know, building on the best of their field, their experience and their personal capacities. Yet it still makes sense to turn to them when much is at stake.
If we consider what we do today to be critical to all our live from here-on, even when it is not urgent, then living as fully, body mind and soul seems like a pretty natural plan. After all, very few individuals feel completely fulfilled through their intellectual capacities alone. Or the physical capacities alone. The emotional realms, the sense of purpose and meaning, the “spiritual” for want of a better word, is right up there on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and not only his.
Daniel Pink all but articulated a new view of the human being based upon the “intrinsic” nature of our motivations and drives. Intrinsic works nicely for those that want to stay carefully away from the messy worlds of religion and spirituality even when there is good reason to do so!
But the point here is that life, without finding ways to integrate meaning, purpose, messy emotions and yes, spirituality, is bare. Antiseptic. Lacking in something that is simply essential to our humanity.
Again, those who dare to deal more forthrightly with these areas of life, and do so more boldly in the work-a-day arena—without turning it into a religious quest, are those who will possibly be the ones to revolutionize corporate America, just as today’s corporations are a twentieth century invention that has revolutionized and significantly contributed to the globalization of our world today.
We will all die. The biggest issue at the end of life is regret—usually from things NOT done.
Transition Specialists, by and large, add a unique component of what could be called “dignified space” into the otherwise information filled mix of our lives. They help create this almost sacred space in our lives that we need to move and grow. It’s very simple. Yet never underestimate the power of the small, the unspoken, the pause that heals, strengthens and connects.
* A Study of Spirituality in the Workplace MIT Sloan Management Review Retrieved 2014-06-04
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