This is the “spiritual” season. What does it mean to be spiritual at work? To begin with, there’s a distinction between being religious and being spiritual. Religion is, of course, a way that we interpret our spirituality. It’s OK to communicate your religious beliefs, but only if you do so in a way that does not proselytize, intimidate, or constrict those who don’t see eye-to-eye with your religious beliefs.
Spirituality is a broader and more encompassing notion. You can be spiritual without being religious, and as presented in the daily headlines, many people practice their religion in a way that is far from the common notion of “spiritual.”
For me, spirituality at work means following these precepts:
- Show extra caring – It’s very hard to show that you care when you’re running 75 miles per hour – and who isn’t?! One way to show that you care is to stop running for a few minutes and just “be there” with someone: Be a fellow employee, subordinate, client, vendor, etc.
- Control less and inspire more – All great spiritual teachers teach through the use of stories. Today’s spiritual leader or boss will be an excellent story teller too. Since the “performance approach” has found its demise, the alternative is to inspire people toward greater productivity.
- Identify the greater meaning in the work you do – All of us run 75 miles per hour with blinders on. Whether we realize it or not, our activities have a “precessional” impact. For example, I had a client who was so focused on how they could be more customer-friendly that they never engaged their customers in the conversation. Once the employees fully understood the impact their work had on their customers (learned primarily through customer stories) they realized the deeper meaning behind the work they do every day.
- Be open, wide open – This is perhaps the most emotional time of the year. Hearts are wide open. Hopefully we allow our minds to be open as well. What are you and others feeling at your workplace?
Most people express a need to address their spiritual side. If we ignore this need in the workplace, we never address the whole person. If we don’t address the whole person, we can’t expect whole productivity. We run the risk of losing to competitors who do.
The holidays are a great opportunity for bring in spirituality. It is all about the heart: About connection, caring, and memories. Here are a few suggestions for getting the holidays right:
- Try not to run right through them. Everyone knows how stressful the holidays can be. Make a conscious effort to keep them simple and reduce unnecessary stress.
- Helping employees connect with each other through the holidays and beyond, not just at the annual holiday party. Have a potluck lunch where employees bring meals representative of their holiday traditions. Ask them to share some of their favorite holiday stories. Ask them to help decorate the company office.
- Be inclusive. Allow all employees to celebrate the holidays that are meaningful to them.
- Maintain the holiday spirit within yourself, just like old man Scrooge did when he got his wake-up call. That means you’ll be gentler, more caring, and more giving.
- Give together, whether it’s jointly contributing blood to the blood bank, serving a Thanksgiving meal, supporting a child care facility, or whatever you can do.