Traditionally spirituality had no place in the office. When you were at work, you adopted a professional persona. You put on your work clothes and became your professional self. You might even think of yourself as a different person at work. Historically there has been a block between our spirituality and our professional identity. The two things we could not bring to work – or indeed even talk about – were religion and politics. But if we are naturally spiritual beings, can we really operate at an optimal level without acknowledging our spirituality at work? What is spirituality anyway and is there really no place for it in the office?
Essentially, our spirituality is part of who we are. It just is not possible to function without accepting that side of ourselves.
The idea of not discussing religion and politics and acknowledging our spirituality in the office is changing though. The role of spirituality in business is starting to be acknowledged, and it is generally more accepted to be an openly spiritual being in the workplace.
In fact, many companies aspire to become faith-inclusive workplaces, providing prayer rooms and religious leave to support employees who want to embrace their spirituality. And the changes are for the better, companies that emphasize spiritual values are able to unlock the full potential of their employees and their employees are able to find meaning and fulfilment in their jobs.
However, many business people still do not really understand the meaning of spirituality, let alone how it can be applied in a professional environment. For some spirituality can even be a bit of a temporary fad, like exercise routines or healthy diets. While for others spirituality and religion are so heavily intertwined, they can’t understand its place in business. But spirituality is so much more than just religion.
To understand how you can benefit from spirituality in business, you must first understand what spirituality is as well as understand the difference between spirituality and religion.
Once you understand the meaning of spirituality, you can then learn how to use your spiritual awareness to unlock your professional potential.
What is spirituality?
Simply put, spirituality is the continuous search for your place in the universe. Seeking the answers to life’s big questions: what is the meaning of life? Or what is the purpose of life?
It is also the attempt to understand your own inner values and what you can personally do to make the world a better place.
In answering these questions, you increase your spiritual energy. This energy can be transformed into action, which feeds your spiritual energy even further. It is through harnessing this energy that you are enabled to reach your life and business goals.
You should be aware though, spirituality limited to mere reflection is a redundant activity.
Spiritual people tend to be more selfless, empathetic, and honest rather than egocentric, narcissistic and insincere. They speak more about their responsibilities and less about their rights. Many spiritual people believe that they are connected to a superior force and that nothing in their life is a coincidence.
What is the role of spirituality in business?
Before you can define the goals for your career, your department or your company, you first need to know what success will look like.
You could define success as simply having more money in your company’s bank account. Or by eliminating your competitors, the colleague competing for the same position or another company competing for the same customer. Although this approach is limited by selfish and egocentric motives and has little spiritual enrichment.
A more spiritual approach would be to ask yourself or your business colleagues about the higher, overarching purpose of the future activities and how these activities will interconnect with your values.
I am not suggesting you replace your financial goals with spiritual goals. After all, it is only possible to achieve your higher goals if your business career or your company’s activities continuously generate sufficient income.
What I am suggesting is that you first define the meaningful goals and objectives and then break them down into specific money-generating activities.
This approach works. And it has been proven successful by many extremely successful business leaders. Elon Musk, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg based their successful business strategies on their strong spiritual purpose.
Their overarching objective was/is to improve people’s lives and to make our planet a better place to live. They make products that make millions of people happier. Their customer’s happiness comes back to them in the form of their financial fortune.
Why is spirituality important for a businessperson?
The world is changing and so are people’s expectations from their jobs. People expect their jobs to have meaning. They want to work for ethical organizations. And money is no longer the only reward expected from a job.
Businesses can benefit a lot from spiritually energized employees. Spiritual leaders can inspire and influence their employees and unlock their full potential.
The management style of spiritual leaders allows space for creativity and innovation. They can build strong united teams and their team members feel a sense of connectedness to one another.
Spiritually energized employees are far more likely to sacrifice their egos and self-interests for the sake of the company’s mission and the greater good.
Additionally, spiritual energy makes us more stress-resilient. Stress perception is much lower when activities performed are meaningful.
This obviously leads to more successful and productive individuals and organizations with a profound impact on business success.
Spirituality vs Religion
No matter if they are religious or not, many people look for connection with the universe and its unifying force. Spiritual energy takes them beyond their narrow self-interests. Their life purpose is to contribute to the greater good.
But you do not need to be religious to be spiritual. Religion is simply a structured and institutionalized approach to spirituality. Religious people understand spiritual energy as a measure of one’s connection to God.
By contrast, non-religious folk source spiritual energy from a higher universal truth or force, the supernatural realm, or simply from their own inner dimension.
As a matter of fact, 38% of Americans who describe themselves as spiritual are not religious.
Furthermore, you can be religious and not spiritual. This is the case for 43% of religious citizens in the US. These results come from a study performed by researchers from Florida State University.
There are obviously many non-religious business leaders in the world that have successfully harnessed their own energy – be that spiritual or not.
While most CEOs keep their faith out of the workplace, you may be more surprised by the successful business leaders who are open about their religiousness and spirituality.
- Apple (AAPL) CEO Tim Cook
- Indra Nooyi – head of the Purchase, New York-based PepsiCo
- Jonathan Medved, founder and CEO of Our Crowd
- Dave Thomas was the founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Wendy’s.
- And many more…
Bring your whole self to work
There is no right way to be spiritual, and it can either be guided by religion or not. But there is no doubt bringing your spiritual self to work will benefit you and your business. What is spirituality in the workplace? It is people bringing their whole self to work, being better leaders, more successful and productive individuals with a profound impact on business success.