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The Soulscreen

Dr. Lance Secretan’s breakthrough book “Reclaiming Higher Ground” introduced the radical idea that a spiritual deficit existed within the workplace. It was the first time that a prominent thought leader in the field of leadership had proposed that the fundamental human yearning for spiritual relevance needed to be accommodated at work just as much as elsewhere in life. This book, as much as anything else, raised a new awareness about the importance of honoring the soul – what he called “honoring the sacredness of the other” – at work. The short test below will help you to determine if your soul is being honored through your work. Complete the test using the instructions below and then take any necessary action that will lead to a more inspiring life.


Please rate each response on a scale of 1 to 10, where:
1 = Disagree
10 = Agree

    We have lost our inner voices, the voices we need to ask questions that require Courage (the first of the CASTLE® Principles).Traditionally, we are more ready with answers than questions. We think it smart and professional to always have a ready answer. But the conscious leader asks questions more than thinking up snappy answers - enquires more than knows - is a learner more than a knower. This takes Courage - the courage to show vulnerability, to admit that we do not know everything, and that the counsel and guidance of others is valued. It may also require a safe environment, where asking questions does not result in retribution or ridicule, but, instead, receives support and respect.
    Culture is the unspoken code that unites a tribe, and this is especially true in great organizations that romance outstanding performances from every team member. These are places that have moved from the profane to the sacred, that have reclaimed timeless values, using them to guide every decision and strategy. The authentic leader honors their personal values at work and defends them against violation or compromise.
    We rarely tell the truth anymore - not in our annual reports, our advertising, public relations, lobbying, performance appraisals, budgets or forecasts - even our personal relationships. We assure our employees that they are our most valuable asset and then we make this a lie by downsizing, "RIFF"-ing, restructuring and de-layering them. A renewed commitment to truth-telling and promise-keeping is the single most powerful way to regenerate ourselves and restore credibility and integrity in organizations today. Truthfulness is an act of love to others, serving them over ourselves, and it nourishes the soul - of both the truth-teller and the truth-hearer. There is a powerful yearning in us all for a safe environment in which we can tell our truths, and an assurance that we, in turn, are being told the truth.
    Every communication is a promise - a promise to meet an expectation of some kind. We all rely on others to do what they said they would, to show up when they said they would, to stand by us in the way they stated - to meet their promises. Every failure to meet a promise corrodes the bond of trust between people; and every promise met strengthens the bond of trust between them - both the one who promises and the one who is relying on the promise to be honored. We thrive, and are inspired, when we are able to count on each other to honor our promises.
    Sometimes our days end without healing wounds caused to our colleagues, customers or suppliers - and sometimes, even to ourselves. These wounds grow, fester and damage our soul and our opportunities. Those with grace appreciate the natural elegance of human relationships. They turn every communication and relationship into beautiful music. Those with grace use charm and integrity to maintain symmetry in all of their relationships. Those with grace seek to integrate themselves with those with whom they interact - becoming ONE. They guide relationships with a sure hand that seeks to make every Soul whole - first with itself, but also with the universe. Grace in a graceless world requires immense personal courage. Our personal mission is to be in a state of grace, with everyone with whom we have been in contact - at the end of the day, and when our Soul leaves this planet.
    Today's workplaces are often places where a culture of fear prevails - we live and work in fear of our bosses, losing our jobs, failing, missing targets, our competition, being sued, becoming irrelevant - in fact, fear is the motivational weapon of choice for many leaders. We can invest our energy negatively (trying to destroy the competition) or positively (striving for excellence) - it is a choice. We are all yearning for more love in our lives - not more fear. It is the deepest yearning in our hearts. If we replace fear with encouragement, compassion, trust, patience, empathy and love - we will release the untapped potential of humans. Have your leaders replaced fear, scarcity thinking, competition and motivation with love, abundance and inspiration? Have you?
    Where does it say that we are loving souls between quitting time and 9 a.m., and then we must turn into some sort of aliens who no longer have feelings or need love in our lives? Why do we accept this myth? We spend one third of our lives working. It is important to do this with people we enjoy and are fond of - even love. When we use the term "love" here, we are referring to its spiritual rather than romantic meaning. It corrodes the soul to spend the majority of our waking hours with people for whom we have no affection - or worse - who we detest. Inspiration of the spirit comes from nourishing our soul with the love of those with whom we spend our lives - and that includes every part of our lives. We become inspired when we dissolve the artificial boundaries that prevent us from loving everyone.
    Work is a new word - first used in the mid-17th Century. We didn't go to "work" before then, because there was no place called "work". Work was hunting, fishing, harvesting, planting, gathering, making and repairing. It involved teaching others, mentoring, and playing. It was hard, but often joyful. Work is not a four letter word. Nor is it just a job. It is as natural as play and we need to deliberately blur the lines between the two because both can be equally joyful and fulfilling. We are in danger of forgetting how to have fun at work which depends on our being able to fall in love with our work. This means doing something we love. There is no point in slaving in a hell-hole until the age of 65, only to be able to say, "Phew, glad that's over!". All of us are seeking joy in our lives, including our work. We are meant to do "work" that is fun not just functional. Our work should be infused with meaning, fulfillment and joy. If it doesn't make the soul sing, it isn't fun. Is your work fun? Does is make your soul sing? In his wonderful book, The Reinvention of Work, Matthew Fox suggests that we each ask ourselves a searching question: "Is my work smaller than my Soul?".
    Sanctus: "sacred; holy place; as a building set aside for the worship of a god or gods; a place of refuge or protection a shelter". A Sanctuary is a soulful workplace, a safe environment. We may not be able to change the world around us, but we can change ourselves. In this way, though the world around us may be crazy or dangerous, in the Sanctuary of our own space, we are secure. A Sanctuary is like a Teflon shield, repelling the toxicity around us. But a Sanctuary is even more than a physical location - it is an attitude. Sanctuaries are often formed by groups of like-minded individuals who love, trust and respect each other, are passionate about their dream, share values and enjoy a common code. A Sanctuary then, is an attitude - a sense of "home" and safety, a sense that all is well in this place and that we are one here together - is your workplace a Sanctuary?
    Employees, to paraphrase Teilhard de Chardin, are "spiritual beings having a human experience" who are motivated and inspired by tailor-made, unique combinations of rewards. Our approach has been the opposite. The "one-size-fits-all", egalitarian compensation plan and other mass-produced compensation systems (COL bonuses, merit increases, salary grades, etc.) are designed to make life easy for payroll administration more than to reward individuals and teams for outstanding performance. One size does not fit all. We need as many unique approaches as there are unique individuals. This may be inconvenient for payroll administrators, but it is inspiring for people. Just as importantly, we need to design approaches that reward the Soul as effectively as we have learned to reward the personality. Are the rewards you receive from your work tailored to your own personal needs? Do these rewards nourish your Soul?
    The Soul is stirred by its environment. Placing people in sterile, institutional settings withers the Soul. We have a responsibility to appreciate the impact of environmental context and invest in it. The Soul is not satisfied until it finds both ethics and aesthetics in a work environment. As Thomas Moore has put it, "If we have plastic plants, we will have plastic thoughts." People and their environment are indivisible. People will deliver inspired performances when they seamlessly integrate with an inspiring physical environment. Do you love the environment in which you work? Does it inspire the best from you? Do you work in a physical environment that inspires your Soul and romances your potential brilliance?
    The soul is not motivated by war or the fear of losing. Virtuoso performances are romanced from people not beaten out of them. If we love what we do (Mastery), love the people with whom we do it (Chemistry), and love the reason for doing it (Delivery), should we still call it work? Winning is "going as far as you can using everything that you have got" - no one needs to lose or die in the process - there is too much competition and fear in all our lives already. What we are all yearning for is more compassion, care, sensitivity and integrity. Leaders of symphony orchestras do not tell their musicians, "Let's destroy the Chicago Symphony!". The idea is absurd. When we kill the competition, we are destroying jobs and people's lives. Worse, when we compete internally, we sap the creativity and energy required to achieve outstanding performance. A greater aspiration is excellence and Mastery. Great orchestras can be brilliant, while encouraging other to do the same - there is room for us all. The Latin source of the word "competition" is compere, which means "to strive together". Have you reached this collaborative outlook at work?
    Life is not a "zero-sum game". Winning does not require someone to lose - it requires us to redefine what we mean by winning. The negative energy of fear, intimidation, aggression and hostility is making us sick. The positive energy of love, excellence and service can heal us. Attacking others requires negative energy; collaborating with others requires positive energy. The difference is between "subtractive thinking" and "additive thinking". Eliminating corporate toxicity caused by conflict, power and fear, enables individuals to work without cringing. By focusing on the positive power of spiritually reinforcing behaviors, as well as the language and words in all written, verbal and visual communications, we can regenerate individuals and their organizations so that the Souls of customers and employees are drawn to them by their positive experiences.
    Business jargon often exhorts us to practice "empowerment", but we seldom have the necessary self-confidence to fully invoke it. When we gather and confine power in one place or person, we shrivel the souls and the potential of everyone else. Empowerment frees the soul. It creates opportunities for authenticity and courage, innovation and excellence. It is a sweet paradox that when we give away our power by empowering others, we increase our own power at the same time. Thus the whole has greater power. Do you feel fully empowered at work?
    Deceit creates toxicity and destroys relationships - the Chemistry between people. It is this suffering of the soul, caused by over-management, too many rules and not enough trust, that has propelled entrepreneurial spirits out of bureaucracies and into their own ventures. Trust within creates trust outside the organization - with customers and suppliers. Do your leaders trust you? Is your organization a trusting culture?
    Rules chafe the Soul because the Soul naturally migrates to freedom and unity. A highly focused team that shares a passion for ONE Dream®, and works with a clear set of values, needs few rules. Such a team becomes a coalition of inspired Souls, replacing rules, procedures and policies with trust. Traditional hierarchical and functional structures create "silos" of information, generate negative energy, impair communications and weaken individual and organizational potential. Since people and knowledge are the two most important assets of evolved organizations, knowledge-intensive functions are the responsibility of all employees, not just a few specialized departments. The Soul is inspired when the path between knowledge and action is short and direct. Is your organization transparent and non-bureaucratic?
    Researchers have shown that when our creativity is suppressed we become sick. Creating opportunities for us to contribute our sometimes long-hidden creativity helps to nourish the Soul. It also results in higher-functioning individuals who provide new ideas to the whole. There are two ways to grow: innovation (doing things differently) and kaizen (doing the same things better). These subtle and different parts of creativity energize outstanding people, their organizations and their Souls. Organizations that suppress creativity at work, are denying a fundamental right of the Soul. The Soul yearns to evolve and to be free. Creativity is a powerful source for both. Is your organization benefitting from your full creative potential?
    Mastery sets high-performance individuals apart from the rest. It does the same for organizations. Since Mastery is achieved through learning, the survival and personal development of individuals, and therefore their organizations, depends on a powerful commitment to learning. Is learning valued in your organization? Is this manifested with an investment in your learning? Are you growing and stretching as an individual and does your organization show that it cares abut your personal development?
    We all yearn to recover our lost sense of community. This cannot be done by complaining about our legislators and politicians, while never becoming part of the solution. They are us and we are they. We cannot simply keep taking from our communities, where we earn our livelihood, without giving back in return. We must all be active and participate at the grass roots level within the political, service and social spectrums of our communities, in ways that each of us choose. Does your organization support your direct involvement with, and contribution to, your community?
    It's time for us to freshen our thinking about profits. Profit is like oxygen, essential for our survival but not the point of our existence. Financial performance is the personality's way of measuring profit, but the Soul measures profit too - just in a different way. If we build Soulful businesses, the profits will come. Are the profits generated by your organization achieved fairly, with integrity and transparency, while serving people and the planet?
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