Yesterday, David Batstone posted a blog entry on Spirit in Business at Worthwhile Magazine and probably spoke for many of us who are trying to help organizations understand how powerful they can be when connecting their actions to deeper principles. He writes about how difficult it can be to get through the front door, particularly when the organization’s culture rewards the financial bottom line over the personnel bottom line. David goes on to say:
I take a broader view of spirit in business. I find it embedded in the relationship that a customer has with a company, that a worker has with her boss, that an investor has with management. The degree to which these relationships, these points of connection, create trust and generate real value, then a company is soulful.
I share your same dilemma – you start talking about spirit and purpose in the workplace and itâ€™s often perceived as too woo-woo for the business world. Managers and execs wonder what that has to do with making decisions and execution (those two areas that often define performance). Yet, what holds up those decisions and actions? Theyâ€™re not made in a vacuum, but come from a personal philosophy that may or may not match the one held by the company.
I like your perspective on spirit as the connection of relationships. And Iâ€™d like to add that its also the connection that one has with their work. A person who believes in what they are doing and believes that it is a true display of their unique talents and passions has found the soulfulness of their work.
Keep the faith, David. Perhaps weâ€™ll come to the place soon where the big picture is too compelling to ignore.
And as I thought about this further, I remembered a familiar voice from my experiences trying to grow my practice. This voice reminded me that you have to know how to speak your audience’s language. Talking about spirit may be woo woo at first, but if you put it in the terms of the culture’s preferred lexicon, you’ll open the door to possible acceptance. If you’re speaking to a CEO or Executive Director, find out what’s important to them and use the metaphor and imagery that can speak to that specific individual.
I’d be interested in hearing about other experiences out there in the field.