Z is for Zenith
The Zenith, is described as the highest point or state, the summit, or highest level of development: To have ended and thus arrived at a final stage. It is also considered the culmination of all that has gone before.
From a spiritualists’ point of view, the zenith may be reaching enlightenment, or atonement (read this as at-one-ment): The Dali Lama stopped at a hotdog stand in New York City and said to the vender, “Make me one with everything.”
We’ve arrived at the end of this series and thus we are arriving at the Zenith, the culmination of twenty six blog entries on spirituality and business. Starting this, that many weeks ago, I didn’t see that the interweaving of concepts over the months could lead to an emerging process of development; one that could perhaps lead toward even enlightenment for the reader or for me, the writer. I watched as each letter and its word or words built upon what came before. One practice led to the next. In hindsight it all makes perfect sense.
The willingness (W) to allow and accept (A), trust (T) and practice (P); choosing to choose (C) in service to one’s highest good and highest truth, takes intention and integrity (I) to courageously face potential loneliness, taking the leap of faith (L) all by yourself – that’s the only way it can be done!
A Zenith can be that jumping off point; like a fledgling eagle, who for the very first time steps off the edge of its nest and realizes flight. A Zenith can also be the return from a practice or journey that has brought with it insights that have been life-changing; even transformational. This leads me to a story I’d like to share:
In service to growing myself professionally (and inevitably, personally), a year ago I stepped off the edge into the spiritual abyss, never for a moment considering that the fall alone would breakdown every reality I ever believed to be true. I thought I was spiritually and personally evolved enough (ego speaking here) that it would be a romp in the park, not a yearlong purification process that macerated every limiting perception and way of being I relied on.
Throughout this time I witnessed over and over that “I’m not that, nor that, nor that.” in relation to my identity as a woman, as a highly credentialed individual with three masters degrees and a Ph.D., as someone who sailed across the ocean, wrote two books – all of the things I tried to be, all the things I hoped to be seen for, all the ways I pretended to hide, to avoid my own fear of invisibility and worthlessness. I wasn’t the anxiety, the anger or sadness; I wasn’t that which had given up my main source of income and continually depleted all retirement savings. I wasn’t any of it and it all had to go!
I participated in a shamanic journey the other day. The vehicle for this journey was a rattle being shaken consistently for about 30 minutes. I experienced the moment of death when I realized that none of what I achieved or tried to achieve mattered. As I experienced what it would be like to leave my body it was clear I would not be taking any stuff with me – none of it. Again, the question was: “If I’m not that, then what am I?” For a very long time I listened and waited, watched and experienced … nothing.
As I experienced this nothingness I came to experience myself as the space within the rattle, nothing more. I allowed myself to merge with this reality, exploring and discovering what it was like to be without my normal identifiers or ego attachments. It was unsettling to drop everything I’ve ever been attached to, in service to revealing a perspective, though spiritual and religious in nature that generally goes unacknowledged and unexplored. I was like the Dali Lama’s hotdog: one with everything.
Once comfortable with being the space within the rattle I became the seeds and the rattle itself. I was in the hands of that which shakes the rattle, creating sound and vibration, which ultimately creates patterns of waves and particles that make up matter – the me in physical form, my thoughts and intentions. Some trip!
Experiencing this reality in this way has been the culmination of so much of the spiritual work I’ve been doing for years. It is the Zenith of self-realization and self-transcendence and to some degree, enlightenment. I will never forget the experience of being just the space.
We are all this – the space, the seeds and the rattle that when shaken creates a distinctive vibrational resonance, which manifests as the unique beings we are. Quantum physics validates this perspective.
I believe that wherever we are in our professional career and development, we are each at the Zenith of our own creation – the culmination of all that’s come before. We’ve reached the pinnacle of success and fulfillment, given the circumstance and the belief system within which we’re currently operating. In this moment we are at an ending and thus have arrived; perched and prepared for a new day’s adventure.
Each day brings an opportunity to acknowledge the Zenith of our choice-making, a moment that reveals the manifestation of what we make important or essential. We can look around and observe how we’ve made a difference in the office, in our community, in the world. In this moment we can choose how to step into the paradigm shift that we are creating. I guarantee, your flight will have you soar beyond your wildest imagination.
In regard to your career, what has been your Zenith thus far? How would you define this point; what are the qualities of the experience that has this to be the highest level of professional development for you, yet?
Or, your Zenith may be that moment when you realize that everything you’ve ever accomplished, all the money you’ve acquired, the promotions, the power and prestige has no relevance to the quality of fulfillment and meaning you’ve experienced in your life. The culmination of everything thus far has brought you to this moment when you decide that this is your moment to begin anew – LEAP!
X is for Xenophobia
Xenophobia is defined at Wikipedia as “an unreasonable fear or hatred of foreigners or strangers, or of that which is foreign or strange”.
My sense is that we are all xenophobic. We are all wary of new people, new things and ideas that, though proven by research to be effective means to improve bottom lines, financially and in every other aspect of life, we are too afraid to let go of our inflexibility and invulnerability to try something new.
It’s not uncommon for those who experience xenophobia to fear losing their roles, their positions and identity. We can be suspicious of other people’s activities and sometime be aggressive; desiring the elimination of the other’s presence in order to secure a presumed state of stability. What this does is supports a foundation built on worry and anxiety, which is an unstable platform upon which to build a survival strategy; it will topple under the slightest tremor.
Even with global economic and environmental instability pressing down on us to face what could be the extinction of our economic system or worse yet the extinction of our species, we are too terrified to look beyond our current context and explore those means that will create a paradigm shift. Xenophobia sets off denial as a way of avoiding what we don’t want to face – it’s too scary!
It doesn’t even have to be about the global situations; it could be about bringing more effective processes into management and leadership roles. It could be about recognizing that it’s intimidating to be human in a work environment that isn’t tolerant of its human resource because we are sometime unpredictable, uncontrollable and fallible. It could be about entering into a dialog with yourself about what you are afraid of and how you are being at work in response to that fear. These dialogs reveal many interesting patterns of being that aren’t pathological; they are just ways of being that we’ve not been allowed to be curious about.
We are afraid of being afraid. Under the scrutiny of others, we could be found out as weaker and inadequate, that we are replaceable, or that we have no value what’s so ever. We are all afraid of being found out that we are not who we pretend to be. When faced with strangers or new people, we are fearful that they may be able to see what we’ve been hiding all along.
Spirituality is a frightening concept to many. Though sought after by millions, it scares the bejesus out of us. We don’t understand it, it makes no sense to put trust and faith in an unseen source, and yet people find comfort when engaged in practices that support spiritual development. It makes people feel better about themselves and others, the energy shifts – there’s a calmness and peace in the environment and people are more product and happier when cultivating spiritual awareness. Why not invite this into the workplace?
Any phobia starts with a seed of thought that we make believe is real. We cannot overcome any fear until we distinguish the underlying belief we chose to be true. 85% of our fears are irrational and have no evidence to support them in the current paradigm. Most of these fears we took on in our childhood years and never stopped to assess the degree of truth upon which they were based. Our cultures, religions and economic institutions, in general, support the fear-based reality within which we operate and stifle any development that will threaten their position. I believe we are encouraged to be xenophobic. Alternatives to western medicines, fossil fuels, capitalism and fundamental religions, regardless of decades of research that point to the value they bring, are feared and made to look as though they are serious threats to our well-being.
Within our business environments how is xenophobia encouraged? Your institution may be a rare example of being free from such a mechanism; however, the truth is that the barbs of fear that we carry are so unconscious that we don’t know that we don’t know about the underlying fears from which we operate. Only through inquiry and direct confrontation with ourselves are we able to unconceal fearful patterns of being that originated from a single moment that birthed a single thought that started the ball rolling.
All organizational dysfunctions originate from one human being whose fear-based choices permeate throughout the whole. Fear is highly contagious; the remedy is alternative in nature, for as Einstein said, you can’t to solve the problem with the kind of thinking that created it. Fearful thinking begets fearful solutions.
How do we be with our fears in a way that allows them to be recognized for what they are? We can’t overcome our fears until we discover the underlying beliefs that trigger them in the first place. As long as we continue to pretend that we are not afraid and there’s nothing to be afraid of in the first place, we’ll never stop having to pretend.
What’s possible through this exploration is that we recover truths and clarify realities by which to re-choose what we choose to believe in and act from. Without such an expedition, our business environment will have no way to recover itself and be optimal in its ability to create and produce from a highly functional perspective – something untenable in a xenophobic environment. When we realize that we are all unique to each other and that our ways of being and the ideas and gifts we bring to the table are reflections of a larger, more expansive source of these ideas, we are then empowered to be curious, willingly mining for the nuggets of gold that support true innovation and exponentially empowers the essential paradigm shift.
V is for Vulnerability
You must have seen it coming: after all of these weeks …
From the moment we are born we are vulnerable to – well, to everything. Very quickly, and as best we can we begin to tap into strategies that keep us invulnerable to starvation for nourishment and nurturing. We begin to calculate –developing strategic ways to get what we need and perhaps what we want. Our parents can tell a cry that means a diaper needs changing from a cry that says I’m hungry. We learn very quickly how to take care of the situation and minimize vulnerability.
As calculating as we can be, there comes a moment when we are whacked upside the head with the proverbial 2×4, which knocks us senseless and into an even more shrewd way of being in order to avoid any further vulnerability. We continually build on this until we’ve well established, what Tracy Goss calls, our winning strategy. She calls it a winning strategy because it keeps you winning at getting what you want, when you want; until it doesn’t. At some point it becomes clear that this winning strategy limits what’s possible and though you remain invulnerable, which seems like a good thing, you are unable to access what’s necessary to have what you say you want. The only way to shift this process is to willingly risk being vulnerable – only in service to what you say you want.
Remember earlier when I talked about that moment when you decided to be invulnerable? In that instant what occurred that had you make that decision was too painful and too challenging for a little kid to handle. As a kid you had no one to tell you that you are going to be okay. In that moment you were all alone and alone you made that choice to protect yourself at all cost.
At some point in each lifetime we are required to meet again that moment when we have to be willing to risk what we couldn’t risk as a child. We have to trade invulnerability for what we say we want. Now, being an adult, we’ve had plenty of experiences where we calculatingly traded our invulnerability for vulnerability. Trying out for various sports, asking someone for a date, applying to colleges and jobs, asking for a raise; each of these were instances where you chose vulnerability in order to get what you wanted. This is a very good thing and indicates you know how to stretch and strengthen the muscles required to take the risk. What has us be able to risk some times and not others, in other words what has us be more vulnerable in some circumstances while not in others?
In the world of business the majority of us are walking around limited by our winning strategies, remaining invulnerable. This keeps us safe, secure and stable but also most of the time unfulfilled. I’ve begun working with a new client, Patricia, who has phenomenal skills in her line of business but is scared to death to risk losing the stability she’s created, even though she is terribly miserable in her work. She is not alone. Approximately four out of five individuals feel the same way as Patricia.
When Patricia thinks about quitting her job and changing careers she feels like a tiny incapable human being. In that moment she’s calling up the young child to be vulnerable. Think about it for just a moment. We approach this moment of risk as if we were that young innocent child, not the grown up that has risked many times before and come up successful.
The evidence is stacked up in your favor that you will survive taking risks. At the same time you hold on to that one instance in your life when all was lost (because you were only a little kid and didn’t have the wisdom of a grownup to deal with the fallout). You were lost and not yet found. Yes, not yet found.
When what’s at stake is more important to you then the safety of the prison you’ve built through the practice of invulnerability you are, in that moment, given the opportunity to find yourself. Lost or left behind, you can re-member and reclaim any and all aspects of the you, you left behind. It is an exquisite reunion, one you’ll never forget.
Patricia knows that hiding out within the walls that protect her will never replace the feeling of fulfillment she knows exists outside. In this moment, while you are reading this, she is calculating what’s at stake and if it’s worth the risk.
Our business, the work we bring to the world, I believe to be the most crucial aspect of self-expression. And, I also believe that self-expression, in whatever form that takes, is essential to thriving. To empower yourself and others to step out beyond the walls that only seemingly keep you safe, you create an opening in the current reality for a paradigm shift. You have no idea the positive repercussion that follows such an act. Even the slightest movement in the direction of what you want, which requires risk and faith, will reward you with a sense of accomplishment that is in itself a beautiful remuneration. Give it a try – what have you got to lose?
There is great value in investing in a thinking partner for yourself or for those you want to empower. According to statistics, hiring a coach is crucial to growing yourself and your business. Reading pieces like this is a start, yet without action nothing changes.
Enjoy the adventure!
U is for Ubiquitous and Universality
I love the word ubiquitous. It’s got big energy. It has a quality of being that is bigger than, more expansive and universal in nature. It means everywhere, ever present, all pervading omnipresent, universal. So yes, this does describe that aspect of spirituality in business that I’m wanting to capture – that quality of presence that is always and everywhere: It’s pervasive in grace and glory and its capacity to transform business is beyond the beyond.
Look at all of the writings on leadership and business practices that intend to provide more effective, more prosperous practices for corporations, businesss, investors and employees. Everyone is looking for that magic pill, the big BANG that will transfigure our current circumstance to outstanding results. Anyone willing to engage the ubiquitous and the universal? Not many people are. Its takes moxee, houchspa, courage and bravery and the willingness to put everything on the line. You are facing the death of your identity, as you’ve known yourself to be. You are taking the leap with vision and compelling intention – there’s no stopping you when you are this committed, but are you? Are you committed enough?
My client, Orin, in Israel is on the verge of making the leap. He’s very good at what he does as a manager in a primo corporate position. He has the wisdom to know that he could set his sights low, settle for safety and security. He could continue to placate his manager, saying the rights things ensuring he doesn’t rock the boat. However, he hasn’t hired just anyone as his executive coach. He’s hired me – someone who empowering clients to think and live into the context of ubiquitous universality. This means allowing a more expansive outlook to be included in his choice-making process. This notion challenges him. It’s daunting to consider a paradigm shift, especially when you have a wife and children that count on you. He knows though that what is at stake is right livelihood at work for himself, his direct reports and their direct reports, and those to whom he reports. Lateral, horizontal and vertically – he makes a difference.
He has an opportunity to affect the lives of many people, including the well-being of his children. By taking on a more ubiquitous perspective of the reality of life in the corporate world, and on the Earth, he has the ability to bring about a more expansive perspective one where the bottom line is calculated not only by the P&L statement, which includes profitability of conscious communication, sustainability of relationships, the inclusion of more self-empowering skill development.
“What is absolutely true is always correct, everywhere, all the time, under any condition. An entity’s ability to discern these things is irrelevant to that state of truth.” Steven Robiner
One particular dilemma of engaging spirituality in business is that certain principles and concepts have to be addressed in such a way that are ubiquitous – existing and being everywhere. Perennial philosophy is a term for principles and truths that are ubiquitous, conveyed within every religious and spiritual tradition that ever existed.
Perennial philosophy asserts that there is a single divine foundation of all religious knowledge, referred to as the universal truth. Each world religion, independent of its cultural or historical context, is simply a different interpretation of this knowledge. World religions including, but not limited to, Christianity, Islam, Judaism,
Hinduism, Taoism,Confucianism, Shinto, Sikhism and Buddhism, are all derived from the same universal truth. Although the sacred scriptures of these world religions are undeniably diverse and often oppose each other, each world religion has been formed to fit the social, mental and spiritual needs of their respective epoch and culture. Therefore, perennial philosophy maintains that each world religion has flourished from the foundation of the same universal truth, making these differences superficial and able to be cast aside to find religion’s deeper spiritual meaning. Fromhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perennial_philosophy
According to Aldous Huxley author of Perennial Philosophy (1945), According to Huxley, the perennial philosophy is: the metaphysic that recognizes a divine Reality substantial to the world of things and lives and minds; the psychology that finds in the soul something similar to, or even identical with, divine Reality; the ethic that places man’s final end in the knowledge of the immanent and transcendent Ground of all being; the thing is immemorial and universal. Rudiments of the perennial philosophy may be found among the traditional lore of primitive peoples in every region of the world, and in its fully developed forms it has a place in every one of the higher religions. (The Perennial Philosophy, p. vii). From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perennial_philosophy
The gist of this series of Spirituality in Business has been to cultivate awareness of universal challenges and dilemmas that are part and parcel of our everyday life in our work environment. The ubiquitous nature of our humanity engages each and every one of us to discover, recognize and acknowledge the universal nature of our experiences. Regardless of your position in an organization there are certain aspects of being human that you cannot avoid: Assessments and judgments of our successes or lack thereof, fear of rejection and humiliation, conflict and emotional triggers, desires and frustrations, creative engagement with our work, fulfillment and meaning – these are just a few of the circumstances that we encounter every day and requests, no, requires us to transcend our normal operating procedures – our survival strategies, and reach for a way of being that serves the highest good of all ubiquitously – everywhere, always.
This is not rocket science. This is remembering that kindness is the most powerful force of change we have. Through the practice of kindness we transcend egoic conflict and move to a more compassionate, heart-centered engagement that allows all parties to be recognized and acknowledged for their unique perspectives, gifts and contribution to the unfolding of universal expansion. That is what we are all doing here – contributing to universal expansion.
As the paradigm shifts, we effortlessly act from a ground of being that is self-empowering and empowers others to live and work in right relationship with oneself, our teams, our investors – the planet and the Universe at large. It’s big work. Enjoy the adventure!
T is for Turbulence
To state the obvious, there’s no question we are living in turbulent times. The winds of change are creating upheaval and instability, leaving chaos and confusion in its wake. The almighty dollar upon which we’ve built just about all of our institutions, including religion, as well as a sense of security and stability is rocking and rolling like those areas around the planet that are experiencing earthquakes. Everything is getting shaken up.
In the workplace, job security is getting to be a bankrupt concept. And, if you manage to keep your job, most likely you’ve taken on the work of those who have lost theirs. More stress and fewer fulfillment.
Naomi, a client of mine in San Francisco used to love going to work every morning. Now, with a new CEO pressuring the very small staff to produce way beyond their capability, the strain is such that she experiences overwhelm, frustration and, what we normally call depression. “What’s the point?” Naomi asks, rhetorically. “I used to love my work, but now I’m thinking of leaving. It’s all too much?”
As a sailor who crossed the Atlantic Ocean, I could see the changes on the surface of the water that tells us whether we’ll be experiencing turbulence or calm seas. We could see miles off in the distance any sea change that was coming our way. We could prepare appropriately and settle in for any turbulence.
Though I fly frequently, I am disconcerted by any turbulence we experience in the air because it is invisible, generally speaking. I look out the window intending on discovering that which is the catalyst for my discomfort. As an analogy, I find that these instabilities we are currently experiencing is much the same; where or what is the instigator of all of this turbulence in all of our institutions, our solar system, in the Universe at large? I find it fascinating!
The invisible catalyst is a known entity to those who know. For most of us though we feel victimized by the unseen forces that have wreaked havoc to our lifestyles, our sense of security and stability. We are losing our ground of being that we thought was us! Every aspect of life is getting a good shake up. The question I pose is what is our role in this shake up? How do we be with the devastation of our life paths that lay in ruin? Is there a way to create stability in an unstable environment?
Nowhere to Run, Nowhere to Hide!
In any work environment, each of us brings with us, on a daily basis, a sense of un-assuredness. And, with that comes stress, worry and perhaps a less then calm and serene demeanor. We feel helpless and powerless in the face of these turbulent times. Like Naomi, the heads of institutions are bringing in the sails, battening down the hatches, throwing access baggage overboard. We are always wondering if today is the day that we walk the plank.
So what’s the solution? Well, since, on a spiritual level, there is no problem, then there’s no solutions required. What is required is remembering who you are in the first place. Who were you before you were a business person, a member of a cultural or religious tradition; before you were a man or a woman? It takes a lot of sifting through the myriad identities that we’ve overlaid upon our essential nature, however, by remembering who you really are, you come to find the calm sea within, realizing that, like Shakespeare says we are merely players on this stage we call THIS LIFE. We can leave the behind our roles, identities and characters. In doing so we come back to the “me” underneath it all.
I googled spirituality in business, again, and found more articles and blogs that share the degree to which business people are engaging in spiritual conversations in the workplace. I’m not making this stuff up, attempting to convince you of the paradigm shift within which we are immersed. I am encouraging you to see how disempowered you can believe yourself to be in this moment, or, you can cultivate awareness and awaken to how empowered you are to empower yourself and others.
Our business institutions are the spiritual centers now. It is where we practice the essential truths of our religious and spiritual traditions. Its where we practice acceptance of what we cannot change, courage to change the things we can and the wisdom to know the difference; its where we practice compassion, for there but for the grace of God go thee; it’s were we deliver ourselves from evil for the sake of well-being of every being on the planet as well as the planet herself; its, as Mahatma Gandhi said – being the change we wish to see.
Turbulence? You bet. It gives us the opportunity to discover clarity of knowing there is nothing to fear but fear itself (I’m so grateful for all of those who’ve created these incredibly wise statements.). Discovering, recognizing and acknowledging this Truth is essential to the journey. With this in mind, enjoy the adventure!