Spirituality and the workplace may seem like an oxymoron; after all it is difficult to 'be spiritual' in a crowded, competitive, materialistic and often frustrating environment. To find the Divine there may seem a little challenging, at first, because most traditional spiritual disciplines are not designed to help you do that. But irrespective of whether you are an executive, doctor, lawyer, architect or artist, you can weave your purpose into your work life with a few conscious measures.
Start with the belief that you can turn the grind of your workplace into grist for your spiritual mill. Then adopt the following measures and see how your life changes.
1. Identify your personal values: These values are the ones that give you the greatest joy and satisfaction. You feel deeply passionate about them as they come naturally and do not create any internal conflict. These values often surface during challenging times or when you are forced to make difficult life choices, such as after great personal or professional loss, the onset of a serious illness, an operation or burnout.
Most people's innermost values emanate from family, work, self and service. These could include personal accomplishments, security, independence, friendships, integrity, power or community work. Identify yours and write them down. Then have a look at them every day.
2. Ask Why: Our brains are wired to be curious. As we grow up and "mature" many of us stifle or deny our natural curiosity. Let yourself be curious! Wonder to yourself about why things are happening. Ask someone in the know. The best way to exercise our curiosity is by asking "Why?" Make it a new habit to ask "why?" at least 10 times a day. Your brain will be happier and you will be amazed at how many opportunities and solutions will show up in your life and work.
3. Get work-life balance: Once you have narrowed down on your innermost values, reorganise your work and activities around them. For example, if you need more work-life balance, then start by planning your day more efficiently. Avoid spending too much time on social networking sites, coffee breaks or chat sessions and procrastination. You will be amazed at how much time you will save. Be open to realistically realigning your ambitions accordingly. Take on only as much as you can comfortably manage within your regular working hours. Learn to say "No". It is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.
4. Practice work wisdom: Be understanding with your peers and colleagues, irrespective of their power or position. Avoid being part of office politics and discourage your team from doing so. Keep your interactions transparent. Minimise conflict; nip it in the bud by having a straightforward chat with the person concerned.
Keep an open mind and be tolerant of other people's opinions, even the ones you disagree with. Your life will become less stressful when you minimise conflict, a lot of which is anyway a result of your own rigidity and intolerance. Remember that if you considered the life experiences of others, you would probably be just like them. This understanding is wisdom.
5. Cycles of Consciousness: Your consciousness waxes and wanes throughout the day . For most it seems to go through 90 minute cycles, with 30 minutes of lower consciousness. Watch yourself to recognize this cycle. If you learn to recognize and track your mental state, you can concentrate on important mental tasks when your mind is most “awake”. For creative insight into a problem, do the opposite. Work on it when you are in a drowsy state, when your conscious mind has slowed down.
6. Authenticity in communication: If you have a team, encourage them to talk honestly and without fear. Create a 'safe space' in which people feel free to speak the truth without fear of reprisal. And practice the same yourself. Most issues get resolved once you allow people to be truthful in a safe and respectful environment. Creative solutions emerge and people feel more connected and aligned. Each individual then gives their best, making teams and organisations blossom.
7. Be compassionate: There will always be times when a colleague misses a deadline, does a shoddy job, underperforms, reports late or displays bad attitude. Your first instinct at such times may be anger, harsh words or frustration. And while your reactions may be normal, given the overwhelming pressures of today's workplace, just take a few deep breaths before sailing into anyone. Focus on yourself and recall a time when you may have been in a similar position. This is the beginning of compassion.
8. Embrace personal growth: Personal growth is the result of introspection and taming your ego. At work, you could start this process by learning to see the difference between disagreements and personal attacks, between feedback and criticism. Don't let your ego get in the way of absorbing relevant inputs from co-workers as that could actually help your own growth.
9. Do what you like doing: If you are not passionate about your work, be honest and identify where your real passion lies. Once you have done that, try to either integrate it within your work or make a planned shift to making a livelihood out of what you are most passionate about. Recently a vice president of an IT company discovered his passion for making chocolates. He started distributing samples to his colleagues and they were giving him large orders for different occasions. Two years later, his orders became so large that he quit his job and became a full-time chocolatier. Life has been pretty sweet ever since!