Last week I was meeting with a group of CEOs, 8 of us, sharing some of our challenges and seeking advice and support. One of the men had just finished sharing about the challenges he is facing at home with his son, his own health, and his challenges with falling revenue at work. Listening to him I was moved by how much this man was dealing with in his life.
Of course we all had some useful suggestions which he appreciated. I was moved to ask if he had any spiritual support, such as that of his priest, during such significant life challenges. “I am a birth to grave Catholic”, he said, “but I guess I never thought of seeking support from my priest”. Another member of the group chimed in, “gee now that I think of it I also wouldn’t think of going to my minister for help with life situations.”
Why not, someone asked, and a lively discussion around this topic ensued. Because spiritual matters are of the spirit and life challenges are here on earth, was the general consensus.
I found this both interesting and fascinating and the more I reflected on it the more I realized that this is the way our society has evolved and especially business. It is a true and literal separation of church and state, but even further, a separation of life from anything to do with the spiritual, whatever that may be.
But is Spirit really something other than life? I guess we first have to define what might be meant by Spirit and the spiritual. Looking it up in Miriam Webster dictionary, the first definition that comes up is “an animating or vital principle held to give life to physical organisms”. That which lies beneath and through and that animates life is the way I like to say it. And we use it all the time in our lives such as when we say the spirit of the organization or use the term esprit de corps.
So how can Spirit be separate from life? The two are heavily intertwined with each other by the very definition of it. Life and Spirit is the same thing. Life is the manifest world we see and live in and Spirit is the unseen but ever present animating force that gives life to all we experience. So why would business, something that is very much part of life, be any less animated by Spirit than the rest of life and why would we consider it any less of a spiritual journey than itself is.
Since, by definition Spirit animates all things it must also animate our organizations? If it animates our organizations then as leaders of those organizations should we not learn to understand how it affects our organizations and how can it be used to enhance our performance?