Most people don't consider their work a spiritual endeavor, but the connection between work and spirituality is deeper than we think. An upcoming book, Five Minutes on Mondays: Finding Unexpected Purpose, Peace and Fulfillment at Work, seeks to show us how we can unite our spiritual lives with our professional lives.
About 10 days ago, a coworker forwarded a pitch from a PR person to me with the subject line, "Finding Unexpected Purpose, Peace and Fulfillment at Work." Shyeah, right, I thought when I read the e-mail's subject. While I agree that work can be meaningful and fulfilling (it certainly is for me), for most people, it's just a means to an end, and all the competition and politicking associated with work is hardly a peaceful or spiritual endeavor. Nevertheless, the e-mail piqued my curiosity, so I opened it and read.
It contained a pitch for an interview with the author of one of these inspirational business books—you know, the Seven Habits—type. The book, due out next spring, is called Five Minutes on Mondays: Finding Unexpected Peace, Purpose and Fulfillment at Work (FT Press: April 2009). The book's title and description struck me as a cross between Tuesdays with Morrie and Who Moved My Cheese? The author, Alan Lurie, is a rabbi who works for a real estate services company, Grubb & Ellis, in NYC as a project manager.
Intrigued, I quickly responded to the PR person to schedule a phone call with Mr. Lurie. The two main questions I wanted to ask him were basic: Do you really think it's possible to find purpose, peace and fulfillment at work? (Finding all three seems like a tall order to me.) If so, How?
Lurie, who's 50, understands my—and others'—cynicism about finding some kind of inner peace or spiritual transcendence at work, and he addresses it head on in Five Minutes on Mondays (which is named for the five-minute sermons he began offering every Monday in a Grubb & Ellis conference room when he joined in January 2007.) I would argue that most people don't think to find tranquility or "oneness" at work. I certainly don't. Work and spirituality seem so contradictory: one is focused on the material, while the other is focused on the other-worldly. When we do seek a spiritual experience, we don't look for it at the office. We search for it in churches, mosques, temples and synagogues, at yoga retreats, in nature or someplace deep within ourselves.
Lurie believes otherwise. He believes work can in fact be a most spiritual enterprise. The business world, he says, presents challenging opportunities to grow spiritually and to put spiritual teachings into practice. He writes in Five Minutes on Mondays, "…we may think that spirituality is found only in prayer, religious text study, or on the meditation pillow, but the rubber hits the road when we are faced with implementing these ideas in the complex world of work."
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