Bringing Your Soul to Work

An Everyday Practice

Cheryl Peppers (Author) | Alan Briskin (Author)

Publication date: 08/01/2000

Bringing Your Soul to Work
  • From the author of The Stirring of Soul in the Workplace, winner of the Body Mind Spirit Award of Excellence
  • Engages the creative side of readers through stories, images, reflections, and imagination
  • Combines vivid portraits of work life with solid principles of psychological and organizational theory
  • Helps readers work through their own questions and dilemmas as they confront the challenges of today's workplace

Employees today are actively searching for more meaning in the workplace, for work that resonates with their being. How does one dare yearn for something more, when so many workplaces seem aligned solely with financial survival and profit making? How do we get work done amidst the demands and tugs on our soul?

Bringing Your Soul to Work addresses these troubling questions in a way that provides a pathway for readers who want to bridge the gap between their spiritual and work lives. It honors readers' unique experiences and challenges them to think differently, aligning their actions with their hearts.

Engaging, inspiring, and poetic, yet grounded in real life, this book is written by consultants who see the contradictions of the workplace firsthand. Using case examples, personal stories, inspirational quotes, visual images, reflective questions, and specific applications, it shows readers how to use their own experience to grapple with the gritty realities of the workplace. Throughout the book, readers are invited to consider the book's concepts in relation to their own unique situations and, in the case of the applications, to record their responses in writing. They then learn to construct meaning from their own experience, drawing on imagination and practice, as well as the specific circumstances of their work lives.

Addressing what many feel but cannot say out loud, Bringing Your Soul to Work links ideas about soul to the realities of work in a unique way. For all those looking to increase their effectiveness at work and bring more feeling, imagination, and heart into their efforts with others, it will serve as a guide for creating something new and lasting.

  • From the author of The Stirring of Soul in the Workplace, winner of the Body Mind Spirit Award of Excellence
  • Engages the creative side of readers through stories, images, reflections, and imagination
  • Combines vivid portraits of work life with solid principles of psychological and organizational theory
  • Helps readers work through their own questions and dilemmas as they confront the challenges of today's workplace

Read more and meet author below

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Overview

  • From the author of The Stirring of Soul in the Workplace, winner of the Body Mind Spirit Award of Excellence
  • Engages the creative side of readers through stories, images, reflections, and imagination
  • Combines vivid portraits of work life with solid principles of psychological and organizational theory
  • Helps readers work through their own questions and dilemmas as they confront the challenges of today's workplace

Employees today are actively searching for more meaning in the workplace, for work that resonates with their being. How does one dare yearn for something more, when so many workplaces seem aligned solely with financial survival and profit making? How do we get work done amidst the demands and tugs on our soul?

Bringing Your Soul to Work addresses these troubling questions in a way that provides a pathway for readers who want to bridge the gap between their spiritual and work lives. It honors readers' unique experiences and challenges them to think differently, aligning their actions with their hearts.

Engaging, inspiring, and poetic, yet grounded in real life, this book is written by consultants who see the contradictions of the workplace firsthand. Using case examples, personal stories, inspirational quotes, visual images, reflective questions, and specific applications, it shows readers how to use their own experience to grapple with the gritty realities of the workplace. Throughout the book, readers are invited to consider the book's concepts in relation to their own unique situations and, in the case of the applications, to record their responses in writing. They then learn to construct meaning from their own experience, drawing on imagination and practice, as well as the specific circumstances of their work lives.

Addressing what many feel but cannot say out loud, Bringing Your Soul to Work links ideas about soul to the realities of work in a unique way. For all those looking to increase their effectiveness at work and bring more feeling, imagination, and heart into their efforts with others, it will serve as a guide for creating something new and lasting.

  • From the author of The Stirring of Soul in the Workplace, winner of the Body Mind Spirit Award of Excellence
  • Engages the creative side of readers through stories, images, reflections, and imagination
  • Combines vivid portraits of work life with solid principles of psychological and organizational theory
  • Helps readers work through their own questions and dilemmas as they confront the challenges of today's workplace

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Meet the Authors


Visit Author Page - Cheryl Peppers



Cheryl Peppers is an organization consultant in the areas of leadership development, strategic vision, work design, process analysis, team start-ups, and workforce strategy. Her clients have included numerous Fortune 500 companies, as well as a number of professional service firms.


Visit Author Page - Alan Briskin

Alan Briskin, Ph.D. is an award-winning author, artist, and pioneer in the field of organizational learning. He has been working with groups and organizations for over 30 years as a coach and consultant. In his role as a consultant and executive coach, Alan helps leaders apply practical wisdom and a learning orientation to complex issues of organizational change and transition. He uses dialogue, inquiry, and skillful questions to evoke new ways of thinking. He is the author of The Stirring of Soul in the Workplace and co-author of Bringing Your Soul to Work and Daily Miracles.  His most recent book is The Power of Collective Wisdom: And the Trap of Collective Folly.

To learn more about Alan and his work, please visit his website wwe.alanbriskin.com

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Collective Cry for Something More

Part One: Mapping the Territory

Chapter 1: Windows to the Soul

Chapter 2: Soul as a Chorus for Inner Voices

Chapter 3: Shadows of the Soul

Chapter 4: Playing with Wild Cards

Chapter 5: Shadow Sightings and Everyday Practice

Part Two: The Expedition

Chapter 6: Finding Purpose in Work

Chapter 7: Role as an Expression of Soul

Chapter 8: Practices for Being Effective in Role

Chapter 9: The Emotional Tapestry of Group Life

Chapter 10: The Threads of Connection

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Excerpt

BRINGING

image
INTRODUCTION
The Collective Cry for Something More

THIS BOOK ADDRESSES what many feel but cannot say out loud, that amidst the frenetic pace and constant urgencies at work, one is often left feeling barren inside. How is it that so much activity can still leave one empty? How can one live more straight from the soul without being made an outcast? And how do we go beyond simply balancing work and personal life to an approach to living that has integrity and beauty? This book suggests a way to engage an inner dialogue about self and work that is grounded in our own experience. We learn not only of an inner wilderness that has pattern and meaning, but also that we are joined with others, and it is through relationship that our souls are shaped and weathered.

Bringing Your Soul to Work: An Everyday Practice links ideas about soul to the realities of the workplace. How do we connect what is true and natural within ourselves to the demands and sacrifices required of us? How do we face the polarities, tensions, and contradictions in our work and work settings without succumbing to fragmentation or cynicism? How can we join with others to face the challenges that lie ahead? And how can we move from fear to faith? These questions haunt the collective imagination, for they are no longer about individuals alone. We face the new millennium with the twentieth century at our back, with all its contradictions and uncertainties whispering in our ear, “What now?”

Sometimes it is possible to see how contradictions and uncertainties link us to more meaning, not less. And it is sometimes by engaging these gritty realities that we discover the links between our inward, spiritual lives and the world that is outside. Consider these two divergent images. The first is from the cover of Newsweek nearly shouting in bold print, “WORK IS HELL.” Staring out from the cover is Dilbert, with two vacant white circles for eyes, and a cartoon bubble with the word “Help.” Dogbert, the cheerful and ruthless management consultant, lurks in the corner. At the turn of the millennium, the Dilbert cartoons reflect back to us images of work as an exercise in absurdity, pointlessness, and cynicism.

The second image is from a traditional business journal, Across the Board. We see the black silhouette of a man walking away from us, carrying a briefcase that is partly a blur. The headline reads, “Soul Searching: Looking for Meaning in the Workplace.” The editor’s column leaves no doubt about the changes he sees happening in the workplace. Where once employees looked to “the company” for a lifetime career, they now no longer expect job security. Where once employees may have looked for meaning outside work, they now seek it within the workplace. And where once employees looked primarily for promotion and pay increases, now it is about something more elusive and central, the search for soul: that work should resonate with a person’s being.

These two images capture a social disquiet and restlessness that has stirred the workplace and beyond. Something does not seem right. Are we to be cogs in the machinery, subject to moronic bosses and techniques of manipulation? Or are we perched at the precipice of a new awareness, where caring, meaning, and stewardship actually matter? How does one dare yearn for something more, when so many workplaces seem aligned solely with financial survival and profit making? Why is it that the soul now matters? What no longer seems right?

Against these tensions, there is a popular movement gaining momentum, to bring spirituality into the workplace. The inclination for community, the need for recognition, and the longing to glimpse how life is interconnected—these forces continue to pull on us. Yet many of the approaches to spirit at work feel prescriptive, shallow, or generic. Thus despite the many books available, readers are often left to themselves to figure out what to do differently.

Bringing Your Soul to Work: An Everyday Practice encourages readers to examine the particular circumstances of their work lives and to construct meaning from their own experience. Organized around stories, reflective questions, and specific applications, it grounds readers in both imagination and practice. In this way, the book serves as a guide for bringing one’s spiritual values to bear on the dilemmas of work life and for creating something new and lasting.

Bringing Your Soul to Work: An Everyday Practice is for those looking to increase their effectiveness at work and bring more feeling, imagination, and heart into their efforts with others. It is for managers who find themselves caught in the midst of turbulence, for leaders and consultants looking for new ways to foster personal and organizational renewal, and for anyone who has done significant personal reflection and is looking for more specific application to work settings. For those who have read The Stirring of Soul in the Workplace and other books that touch on matters of spirituality, leadership, relationship, and improving work settings, the book serves as an extension of these ideas into a personal practice. For those unfamiliar but intrigued with the subject of spirituality at work, the book offers a place to begin their exploration. Finally, it is for those wishing to dialogue about movement forward, toward a next generation of workplaces.

As authors, we have tried to be as free of jargon as possible and to present sometimes abstract, even mystical ideas in as straightforward a manner as possible. We join with readers, sharing our own personal experience in an occasional story by Alan or Cheryl.


How the Book Is Organized


Bringing Your Soul to Work: An Everyday Practice bridges the interior world of the individual with the uncertainties and demands of work. Early on, this means gaining increasing comfort with varieties of introspective activities, then using these skills to consider questions of purpose and effectiveness. As we gain comfort with our own inner wildness, the greater our capacity is to navigate the wilderness of work. The journey is meant to be transformative, offering new ways to look inward and outward, and to see more clearly how we are joined with others.

In the first chapter, we explore the mystery of soul and its historical association with the vitality of life and inward complexity, and we introduce a major premise of our book—that there are many selves, many voices within each of us, and that awareness of how they conflict and harmonize can lead to wholeness. This brings us to the book’s first section, “Mapping the Territory,” highlighting our interior life as a means for effectively navigating the world of work.

In “Mapping the Territory,” chapter 2 shows how our capacities to think metaphorically, reflect on our experience, and use our innate imagination can lead to greater understanding in the workplace. Chapter 3 explores how we can move into a more powerful way of being by identifying the many discrete voices within us and drawing on them for specific situations. In chapters 4 through 6, we take the reader on a foray into the darker, less understood aspects of one’s own personality and their implications for the work setting. We’re seeking to understand what parts of ourselves we hide or reject as well as what treasures are waiting to be uncovered. In considering shadow as part of the whole person, we reconsider how we have judged ourselves and others. Honoring both fear and compassion in this dynamic, we invite the reader to consider alternatives to hiding from their shadow.

If we can appreciate the vastness and richness of our interior world, we are better prepared to deal with the complexity of workplace issues. In this way, the first section serves as a foundation for the second, “The Expedition.”

In “The Expedition,” chapter 7 bridges what matters within to what brings us satisfaction and purpose at work. Purpose allows for renewal, bringing us the energy to shape and reshape what we do. In chapter 8, we explore how to step into a new work role and pay attention to both our own internal signals and those from the organization. Chapter 9 presents practices for being focused and effective in our role. Chapter 10 captures the dynamic energy of group life and how the difficulties and rewards of being in groups forges who we are. In our final chapter, we suggest that these reflections and practices open up our hearts and allow us to shape and endure, with grace, the continuum of experience we encounter in work and life.


Using This Book


Bringing Your Soul to Work: An Everyday Practice is written with pauses for reflection and specific application. Some readers will wish to journal their reflections and work in depth, while others will read the reflections or applications and move on to the next sections. We assume that each person will determine their own best rhythm for working with the material. Both the stories and the questions for reflection have a way of staying in one’s mind and popping up at unusual times. Implicit to our writing is the assumption that the reader will slow down and use the material for reflection. To aid this, we suggest the following:


  1. For some of the reflections and applications, it’s important to be in a quiet setting, free of distractions—perhaps somewhere in your home that feels comfortable or where you normally read or meditate, or perhaps in an office with the door closed and the telephone ringer turned off. For other reflections, an airplane commute might be fine.
  2. If a question doesn’t seem clear or relevant to you, or if you feel stuck for very long on how to answer it from your own experience, simply move on. You may find its relevance later. Likewise, if an application seems confusing or frustrating, others may flow more easily for you.
  3. Keeping a journal will aid your learning. Throughout the book, you will find questions for deeper reflection marked with a magnifying glass—image—and applications that are best written out marked with a journal page—image. When doing the applications especially, writing your responses should help you to anchor into your own experience more concretely, as well as to retain certain concepts. For some people, however, writing is not an effective mode for absorbing material. If you choose not to write your responses, try to take time for adequate reflection.
  4. If you find yourself wanting to hurry through the reflections and applications, it might be worthwhile to consider the reasons. Some of the richest insights emerge while patiently sifting through difficult material. Is your wanting to hurry simply because you’ve done a lot of reflection in your life already? Do you feel impatient or judgmental? Is there something you’d rather avoid? (The answer to this last question is always “yes,” by the way.)
  5. It’s important, when doing the applications, to be open and somewhat playful or imaginative in your approach. Many of the questions are directed at a way of knowing that is different from rational, analytical thinking. Using the emotional and intuitive requires a certain spirit of playfulness and a nonjudgmental attitude.
  6. When reading something that especially strikes you but you’re not sure why, take time to pause and reflect on what might be going on in your life that is being touched upon.
  7. Finally, try to remember that the nature of discovery is an unfolding process, not necessarily called up on demand. Be gentle with yourself, patient with your answers, alert for insights that might emerge later, and expectant that your understanding will deepen over time and with practice.

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Endorsements

"It is only when we begin to experience our own truth and beauty that we are capable of recognizing these qualities in others. This book takes the reader on an archaeological dig of the most personal kind, dedicated to bringing forth the authentic self in the workplace. A stunning accomplishment!"

-- Nancy Kezlarian, Executive Director, Florence Crittenton Center

"Peppers and Briskin have written a creative guide for all who seek greater inspiration and soul in their work. This book is grounded in the principles of depth psychology and makes common sense use of working with persona and shadow issues in the wokplace as well as our personal lives. This book can truly provide a bridge between our inner lives and the work that we do in the world. It is no ordinary 'self-help' book, but a path for self examination and reflection, bringing nuggets of wisdom from many sources."

-- Dr. Suzy Spradlein, PhD, Clinical Psychologist, Analyst, C.J. Jung Institute of San Francisco

"Business leaders today confront a most pragmatic concern-the war for talent. Without authentic, soul-led, pasionate commitment themselves, leaders cnnot attract and keep people. Cheryl and Alan guide the reader first on the inner path to finding one's true voice and passion, and then offer wise counsel and simple but effective practice for taking soulfulness into the gritty world of inspiring people, managing roles and driving business."

"Today's institutions and our upbringing have not prepared us for htis new economy. Instead , we feel fragmented, rushed, unsatisfied. Cheryl and Alan offer practical ways for unearthing the lost abilities to see deeply, to be auhtrnetic, to listen soulfully. Armed with the disciplines they outline, the reader can discover the narrow and rewarding path that balances authenticity and role, being and doing, inteention and action."

-- Stepahanie Spong, Managing Director, Razorfish (Los Angeles)

"Bringing Your Soul to Work is written with care and an easy and compelling prose. Peppers and Briskin are bravely willing to face what is difficult and confusing in life and work and therefore very respectful to the reader. The book is a fine blend of spirit and practicality and if the reader has the will to do the exercises, they will find they will have given voice to their own story, which is the point of reading, anyway."

-- Peter Block, author of Stewardship, The Empowered Manager and Flawless Consulting

"What does 'soul' have to do with going to work every day? Everything, when traditional notions of work are transformed from employment (what we do) to a process of self discovery (who we want to become). The authors raise profound issues and offer practical insight about successfully embarking on a life-changing journey through the experience of work. This book is a highly evocative and deeply personal "field guide" to better understanding different, even difficult, parts of ourselves through what we do. It is a powerful dialogue that can help us realize more of our humanity by consciously reframing the role and purpose of work in our lives. The wisdom of this book makes a seminal contribution to anyone who wonders, "There must be more to worklife."

-- Peter Boland, Ph.D., President, Boland Healthcare

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