Having worked in the corporate world for several years, I found management work quite mundane. I was more inclined to study management and write about management then actually function as a management executive. Since changing careers is never an easy option, I tried to ignore the “Football player in a hockey field” or “Square peg in a round hole” feeling to the best of my ability but it was never easy to ignore the constant stifling feeling that one gets when one is in the wrong profession. Over the years, I got to read about the heart element in deciding one’s career and how important it was to be passionate about what one was doing. I read about how some artists endured a lifetime of poverty for the love of their professions, how some animal lovers lived under appalling conditions, how actors took rejection after rejection but continued to do the work that they loved. In the corporate context, the heart element is not always given its due importance in leadership literature. This is what the Harvard Business Review on ‘The mind of the leader’ has to say about it: “If you are looking for leaders, how can you identify people who are motivated by the drive to achieve rather than by external rewards? The first sign is a passion for the work itself — such people seek out creative challenges, love to learn and take grade pride in a job well done. They also display an unflagging energy to do things better and are forever raising the performance bar.” So it can be concluded that an individual’s chances at being a leader is better enhanced if he is passionate about his work.
Lately, a lot of American writers have started expressing the same theme in terms of the soul and Americans talk like that or do that kind of research only if it can be applied functionally. Here are some excerpts from three of the writers:-
Nanette Hucknall explains in her book “Karma, Destiny and Career” , the practical dimension of life’s work with one’s soul. She says that one may achieve a high status in a particular job and do very well at it and still not be doing his vocation. The feeling of doing well may give a sense of self but if it is not one’s life’s work, one may always feel something wrong with it.
“There is nothing wrong in seeking happiness. The soul seeks it and longs for it lifetime after lifetime. It genuinely arises only when there is a sense of “be-ness” or self, the experience of wholeness and inner peace that comes when one is fulfilling one’s full potential. Inner pleasure can only come from the spirit and that may require a simple life. If an individual relinquishes his or her vocation for material considerations, he or she will be unhappy at a later time in life. Never will the worldly goods replace the feeling of accomplishing the chosen vocation and never will the vocation be relinquished without deep feeling of regret.”
“A man is much more apt to feel that it is impossible to change his work unless he is so unhappy and will stay on in an occupation he dislikes until he feels so unhappy and is in such a crisis that he is forced to re-examine is life simply to go on. This is sometimes referred to as the so called “mid-life” crises or “existential crises” in which an individual is totally unhappy in whatever he or she is doing. Such crises are often related to the soul’s needs to express itself. The soul maybe nudging a person to stop doing the present work, to look within and find out what the real vocation is.This may cause a real transformation if he delves sincerely into his deeper self but without such self-examination, it can cause a mental breakdown or a debilitating illness. “
“For the growth of the soul, it maybe essential for many people to have experience in many different kinds of work with a sense of achievement and not not necessarily fame or fortune. Our souls must feel that they have done the best work possible whether as mail clerks or senators. Even if the person has found his vocation late in life, if he works at it even for two- three years before his death, those two three years will have fulfilled his inner need and he will die feeling a sense of achievement in terms of his life’s work.”
These are some extracts of American consultant Lance Secretan’s articles and books on the subject:-
“Finding joy in our work depends on the relationship between our soul and our work and on the degree to which our work engages and nourishes our soul. Whether or not you have found your calling determines the level of soulfulness in your work. We all experience soulful moments in our lives- when we are at the symphony, when we watch a sunset, when we gaze into the eyes of a baby, when we play with a puppy, when we are deeply appreciated or practicing our highest mastery or when we are connected to the divine. We all want to feel the same way at work throughout our lives. There is no reason why this should not be so.”
“Could there be something noble or divine that lifts the hearts and souls of leaders and stirs our passions? Is there something greater, something more inspiring than just making the numbers each quarter? Do we deserve to be so inspired by our work that we each can truly believe the world will be different and a little better because of our contributions”
“Perhaps one of our greatest roles as leaders is to ensure that the people we lead and coach find their calling; that they do not die with their music still inside them. One of the legacies of great inspirational leaders is the degree to which they helped people to learn, grow, flourish, and discover their true selves(souls) during their Earth visit.”
Nick Weiler and o-author, Dr. Stephen Schoonover have written a books “Your Soul at Work “ on over twenty years of research with many well-known organizations worldwide. Our tools and techniques are used by numerous Fortune 500 companies (GE, IBM, AT&T, Lockheed Martin, Sun Microsystems EDS, Citibank etc.), in addition to small startups, and not-for-profit organizations. If these questions hit home, then our book was written for you:
Would you like to fulfill more of your personal and spiritual values on the job?
Do you love your work?
…Or like most people do you wish it were a little more satisfying? Maybe you've been the victim of downsizing and are trying to make the best of the situation.
Could you use some very practical techniques for finding and pursuing a career path that better satisfies your values?
Would you like to learn specific, research-proven non-technical skills that are key to success and advancement in just about any career specialty?
Are you frustrated with career planning books that neglect your more spiritual concerns?
Are you frustrated when you try to practice on the job what you've learned in spiritually oriented self-help books?
"Is this all there is?"
The authors have noticed a growing pattern in the companies they worked with. More and more people sense a nagging, hard-to-pinpoint frustration in their work lives. It begins with a feeling of being too driven, with not enough time for important relationships or personal growth. People are longing for a greater sense of fulfillment, real meaning and spiritual growth in their work lives.
Often it's the people who are very successful financially who find themselves asking, "Is this all there is?" But it's more than time and it's more than money. In a recent cover story of Fortune magazine, one executive was quoted as saying "You get to the top of the ladder and find that maybe it's leaning against the wrong building”
The last sentence reminds of what the great Indian mystic, Osho had once said. He advised a topmost surgeon to spend the last years of his life as a musician to satisfy his soul. Whether it is interpreted in terms of mind, heart or soul, the issue of being in the right profession is critical both in terms of individual happiness and society’s productivity simply for the reason that a majority of working hours are spent there.