Have you ever wondered why, in most organisations, spirituality is limited to existing outside of the workplace?
Maybe there are two reasons for that. The first might be the perception that everybody is in the game for themselves and that lovingkindness might be in someway superficial. Simply put, if it’s every person for themselves, there is very little benefit in offering lovingkindness to a person who may be sabotaging or holding you back in progressing to the top.
The other reason is more likely. And that is that another thought process exists that competes with lovingkindness for priority when it comes to determining how to deal with other people at work. An example of this might be that you believe that if somebody is not performing well the best thing you can do is criticise them, or at the least, show them what they’re doing wrong. Or, if somebody is breaking the rules, the cultural rules or the conformity rules, you believe that they will get their just punishment and you could participate in causing that. In this instance there is a pre-existing thought process which governs how you behave towards others at work. You may have a completely different philosophy at home towards your family but at work there is a so-called “paradigm” that you believe is more important.
SPIRITUALITY AND RELIGION AT WORK
Just for a moment let’s look at the bigger picture. Intuitively we all know that there is a universe beyond the comprehension of the human mind so big, so awesome, but even when it’s described to us as billions of galaxies with trillions of stars, we go yes, but truthfully it’s just too big to imagine. So there is an infinity, something huge, something mystical, beyond the realms of our imagination. We get two choices in dealing with this unknowable mystery of life: first we imagine something smaller within the realms of our comprehension. In order to create this we have memory based stories and those stories lead us to our imagination. Therefore our stories and rules, give us some sense of connection to the greater picture, this is called our religion. It sort of satisfies our intuition that we are part of something bigger and lets us get on with the real work of making a dollar. The second choice, is to live from our heart and know, that through a day by day process of lovingkindness we are in some way connecting the dots to that huge story that we can’t comprehend, the universe, infinity and beyond. We just act as if we are connected to everything and everyone and therefore, the universe. If we make connections on smaller levels we are, even if we can’t imagine it, making them on a bigger level.
Now let’s get back to work.
Maybe we don’t think of work as part of our spiritual planning process. We think of it as a way of earning income, making ends meet, expressing our creativity or whatever. But work is part of our spiritual journey. We don’t take our spiritual jacket off when we start work. The way we treat people at work is a reflection of our religious and spiritual beliefs. If we are fundamentalist in our religion then we are fundamentalist in our behavioural model at work. This is where the world divides in half both at work and in the masses. There are those with strict rules and there are those with lovingkindness. At work, both go to the same office, both sit in the same meeting room, both have to achieve the same results, but they have two completely different pathways when it comes to engaging in interpersonal and self evaluation.
The individual who lives with strict rules compares everybody they meet to a set of rules. If somebody complies they are considered to be good. If they don’t comply they are considered to be bad. Those rules don’t change. They are narcisistic rules. Designed to make people right or wrong. But to the individual who has embraced lovingkindness their evaluation of self and other is different. For them, when you take lovingkindness to your office everything that happens can be transcribed into a spiritual growth opportunity, which is a beautiful religion in itself.
If we are trapped between trying to embrace the paradigms of those who operate in good or bad ideals, fundamentalism, and at the same time embrace the paradigms of those who embrace the idea of lovingkindness we will be left with a hybrid solution that will be dysfunctional. Either it will be slice and dice or it will be silence, a political no go zone at work, meaninng productivity will drop and the stress in the culture will go up. Nobody is satisfied and a miniture war breaks out.
My motto for business is coach them up or coach them out. What does that mean? It means that we apply lovingkindness with the objective of coaching people up but if that doesn’t work over a nominal period of time, then we apply the other rule, which is coaching people out. In this way we applied both the fundamentalist ideals of good and bad and the openhearted ideals of lovingkindness at work. It’s simply a matter of trying one method first as a highest priority and having the fallback to the less heart driven process if all else fails.