My experience with life in any business environment is, that these three words empowerment, essence and engage, are the most powerful. They support and enhance personal and professional growth for both you and the business within which you are employed. The degree to which you are engaged with your work and your environment from an empowered perspective is the degree to which you will experience fulfillment and healthy dynamics within the workplace.
In my initial interviews with clients, regardless of their position, I ask: “What are you afraid people are going to find out or decide about you?” In quick order, even top executives will share aspects of their humanity that they are afraid will be found out. They’ll say something like “I’m afraid people will find out that I’m a fraud, that I’m unworthy of my current position; I don’t know as much as people think I know; I’m barely able to cope with the responsibilities I have; I sometimes doubt my capacity to do my job effectively. The list is endless as each of us has our own unique set of truths about ourselves that we want to keep secret.
The next question I ask “What do you do so people don’t find out that you are a (in this case) a fraud, unworthy of your position and the responsibility that comes with it?”
The answers to this question reflect a set of survival strategies, which over time become unconscious mechanisms that in a nutshell we call our personality or our ego. As you can see, our ego is fueled by fear-based precepts that have you believe that you flawed and have to act and be in certain ways in order to avoid being found out. Being found out, for most of us translates into being rejected, humiliated or annihilated. It takes an incredible amount of effort for our ego’s radar system to constantly be on the lookout for potential slips that could incur being found out.
Imagine the amount of attention you put towards this protective process I call your survival mechanism. It’s much like your computer that is set up with a virus detecting software. It has to be on alert 24/7. In the case of us humans, though we are alert for not only what might be coming in, but more importantly what we might be putting out.
In the business environment too many of us are working and being from our egoic self. What else is there, you might ask?
Imagine if you will, a moment in your life when you are not operating from your fear-based strategies. What’s that like in your body? What’s the quality of the experience you are imagining yourself in? Sometimes it’s challenging for people to remember a time because it’s rare for them to not be stressed, fearful and on alert. However, most people will eventually remember a time or at least begin to sense into what it might be like. When they do they describe the qualities of being in that moment as, light, relaxed, free, creative, playful, fearless, engaged, connecting, open, flexible. This list too is endless as there are so many adjectives to describe this state of being without fear. We know this place; we just don’t visit it often enough.
The fourth question I ask my client is: “What would shift in your relationship to your work and your work environment if you were to coming from freedom, creative, relaxed, . . . instead of stressed, overwhelmed, intimidated, . .? The answers always astound the person answering. “I’d be more accessible to my direct reports, I’d be more engaged in their projects; I’d be less controlling and would delegate more easily. I’d be more fun to be around and I’d support people in being innovative. I wouldn’t be so stressed; I’d also be more willing to leave the office earlier, spending more time with family, friends and myself.
Wow! So by imagining being in a state that is not fear-based all sorts of possibilities show up that may have seemed otherwise impossible.
Once an individual is aware that they actually can choose to choose differently in how to be who they want to be in their work environment they then can begin to exercise muscles that will help them generate from this newfound freedom, fun and flexibility.
You would think that once experienced and revelation has occurred that people would actually empower themselves to choose to begin the process of shifting from fear-based choice-making to what I call essence-based choice-making. This brings us back to that essential dilemma of wanting what is desirable, at the same time wanting to avoid what is undesirable. For those committed to bringing spirituality into business there is will be the conflicting commitment of wanting to avoid repercussions. Again, those four basic questions need to be asked: “What are you afraid people will find out or decide about you; what do you do in order to have them not find that out; what qualities arise when you remember your vision of having the desired outcome; an lastly what would shift if you were to be that now? What choices would you make and what actions would you take in alignment with that choice?
This line of questioning consistently brings the individual in direct alignment with their essence of being, and empowers them to engage in actions that will bring about the desired outcome.
I totally understand how terrifying it is to consider being in your essence, especially in the workplace. Rarely are we seen or acknowledged for our essence-self. However, we are not our survival strategies, they change as our circumstances change; we are not our ego either. If that were true we would never ever experience those moments when we know ourselves beyond or fear and limitations. It doesn’t make it any less scary.
This brings me back to my original introduction when I defined spirituality as the practice of faith-leaping; exercising muscles that allow you to consider the possibility of shifting from the perspective that life is scary, to, life is a daring adventure or it is nothing – as Helen Keller said. Engaging with your life as a daring adventure requires thoughtful presence to what it is you’ve come here to do and to be.
At some point you will realize you don’t have a choice but to begin to get those muscles in shape. It isn’t a matter of if, it is a matter of when you’ll empower yourself to engage in living into your essence of being and living your life totally on purpose.