One way or another, we all have to find
what best fosters the flowering of our humanity
in this contemporary life, and dedicate ourselves to that.
-- Joseph Campbell
It is no accident that you have chosen the work you have. It is no accident that you are working in your present organization or that you are working with and for the people you do. All of this has been arranged by you -- by your Higher Self -- to give you as many opportunities as possible to learn and to grow spiritually. At the same time, all the lessons of your present circumstances give you the ability to express more of your Authentic Self.
The more we realize that our work is a valuable source of life lessons and learning opportunities, the more we begin to operate from the perspective that work is an ideal conduit for the expression of good. If you come to understand that your work -- regardless of what it is, where it is, or who it is with -- is exactly what you have created, with the assistance of Spirit, for the purpose of having the opportunity to do good in the world, doors of opportunity will open to you for exactly that purpose.
As you develop and grow spiritually, you will start to identify opportunities to do a tremendous amount of good for yourself and for others. And all of this can occur within the context of your job. By being open to those opportunities and seizing them, you create a channel that allows good to pour through you, from your Spirit through your Authentic Self to the world around you. This is what becoming a channel for good is all about.
Seeking & Seizing Opportunities To Do Good
You begin channeling good by seeing your job as a means to an end -- but by that I do not mean getting your paycheck into the bank in time to pay the rent. The end I'm talking about is the ability to see your job as a means for achieving your life purpose. See your work as a natural expression of your spiritually based Authentic Self. Start asking difficult questions about your work and its role in your life: Is your job supporting you in your spiritual growth and development? How is your work contributing to the fulfillment of your life purpose? Are you aggressively seeking and seizing opportunities to do good in your job?
It is easy to assume that we have no right to ask these kinds of questions about our work or to expect our work or our employers to satisfy our spiritual needs. Most of us have bought into the philosophy that since our employers pay us for our time at work we must do almost anything we are asked to do, regardless of how it impacts our spiritual development or our authenticity.
Your Income Comes From Spirit, Not From Your Employer
Let's examine the premise that your employer is the source of your income. If you are ready to accept the fact that your life is a reflection of your consciousness, created by your spiritual self, then your job, as a major part of that life, is also a reflection of your consciousness created by your spiritual self. I would submit that your income does not come from your employer but rather that Spirit/God/Higher Power uses your employer to provide you with the income you need to do the work -- the "good" work in the metaphysical sense -- that you have come to do. In other words, the source of your income is Spirit, and that income comes to you not from but through your employer.
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Another way to think of it is that you have chosen this particular employer to act as a conduit to pass through to you the income that Spirit is giving you. When you know this, you understand that you can easily choose another conduit. As I have pointed out, however, many of us believe in the illusion that our paychecks come from our employers, and in that context, we feel compelled to do whatever it takes to ensure continuation of those checks -- even if it means sacrificing our life purpose and our Authentic Selves during the workday.
Let's say that you accept the notion that your income comes through your employer rather than from your employer. You then start asking the questions -- and you don't like the answers at all. Not one bit. What do you do then? The answer is that you make some changes.
Learning to Find the Sacred in the Ordinary
When I say this in my workshops, many people think I am suggesting that they quit their jobs and go in search of employment more in alignment with their Authentic Selves and their individual life purposes. Quitting your job may be one answer, but there are others. Remember that you are in your job -- this particular job -- for spiritually based reasons. It is conceivable that one of those reasons is to have you discover Spirit in every area of your life, including that seemingly banal position you may hold, or with tasks you may find boring, or with people you may find difficult or commonplace.
If part of the plan is for you to learn to find the sacred in the ordinary, abandoning your efforts where you are now in order to seek a "better" place will only likely cause you to re-create the same circumstances and relationships at a different location. Remember, your job, like everything else in your life, is simply a reflection of your consciousness. Choose carefully before deciding to bail out of one job situation to pursue the Holy Grail elsewhere.
This brings me to a discussion of the one place where you can make changes to transform your relationship with your job: Change begins in your consciousness.
Change Begins In Your Consciousness.
Just as with prayer, any attempt to change the outer circumstances without making a change within the consciousness is pointless. In fact, to do so might be compared to believing it possible to change the configuration of a room by rearranging the reflections of that same room in a mirror. It won't work -- you cannot move the reflected objects in the mirror, quite simply because they are only reflections. What will work is making an honest evaluation of how you are holding your job and the people in it in your consciousness and the extent to which you have either made use of or ignored opportunities to use your job as a channel for good.
Recognize that this "good" may have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with your specific job responsibilities, although it certainly can be related to them. The good you are able to do through your job is your work.
What would have to change for you in your employment environment to enable you to start thinking more in terms of your work versus your job? What would have to change within you? Using your life purpose as a starting point, make a list of the kinds of activities that are in alignment with your life purpose and through which you would consider yourself channeling good into your workplace. Be open to opportunities to take action and be that channel for good.
"I Will Seize Opportunities To Do Good. This Is My Work"
One way to start your own transition is to stop thinking about your place of employment as the place where you report to work. Instead, think of the place you report to work as an internal process. As you arrive at your employment facility, make a heartfelt statement of work intention: "I'm reporting to work now. I will do my job to the best of my abilities, but most importantly, I will seize opportunities to do good. This is my work."
Write your own statement of work intention. Consider putting your statement of work intention someplace where you will see it frequently. Then, for one week without interruption, recite your statement of work intention to your self immediately prior to beginning your job responsibilities. Be aware and stay open to opportunities to put your intention into action and to channel good. If you like what happens, continue the practice.
No matter what your job and where you perform your duties, whether in a high-tech company, a bank, a medical facility, a bus, a manufacturing plant, a law firm, a theater, a government office, a pizza-delivery truck, a school, a ditch, or a restaurant, your true employer is always Spirit. Consequently, part and parcel of your job responsibilities is to do Spirit's work -- to do good. If you start holding your relationship with your job that way, you will experience a major shift in everything that you do in the workplace.
Engaging The World at a Spiritual Rather Than a Material Level
Most of us would agree that taking bridge tolls qualifies as one of the most repetitive and boring jobs available. In his book, Work as a Spiritual Practice, Lewis Richmond tells the story of someone he calls the "Existential Toll-taker on the Golden Gate Bridge" who discovered the truth about work versus his job and clearly made a conscious decision to operate on the work side of the ledger:
There was one toll-taker who met every car with a cheery grin and the greeting, "Howdy, big spender! " as he took our two dollars. He didn't just do it occasionally. Invariably, when I drove through his booth, his greeting and his smile were the same. I found myself looking ahead as I approached the toll plaza, to see if I could move into his lane. Once I joined in by saying, ''What makes you think I'm a big spender? "
"I can see it in your eyes," he replied, raising and lowering his eyebrows like Groucho Marx. That greeting was his way of getting through the day, using humor to enliven his repetitive job. Since of course we still paid the same two dollars, there was something about the way he greeted me every day as a "big spender" that made me feel a bit better about myself. I still remember that feeling now many years later...
"Howdy, big spender! " This tag line has more in it than meets the eye. It says, "I'm not going to just do the job. I'm going to create the job." It expresses a clear intention to reach past the limits of the job description with laughter and good humor. How many toll-takers do you know who have the energy, and perseverance to do that? Most of them don't say anything, they just take our money...
Is "Howdy, big spender! " a spiritual practice? Done once or twice, it's just a funny remark. But to keep it up, day after day, the way he did, with that cheery grin on his face, is much more than humor. The Existential Toll-taker was giving something of himself to each driver who passed through and engaging the world at a spiritual rather than a material level.
Your job is a manifestation of your spirit in the physical world. You can pretend that this is not the case -- basically ignore it or you can consciously claim it.
You get to choose.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
Beyond Words Publishing. ©2002.
Your Authentic Self: Be Yourself At Work
by Ric Giardina.
Through the practical, easy-to-follow techniques and exercises in this book, you will discover ways to get the most out of your work life and begin recognizing it as an integral part of your personal and spiritual journey.
About the Author
RIC GIARDINA is the founder and president of The Spirit Employed Company, a management consulting and training firm that offers keynote addresses and other programs on authenticity, balance, community, and discipline. Ric is the author of Your Authentic Self: Be Yourself at Work and a book of poetry called Threads of Gold.