Every day can be a holiday.

Here we are in 2016. The calendar odometer has turned over another digit. What significance does that carry for you, if any?

I find myself at odds with the majority when it comes to holidays, including the arrival of a new year. I used to get involved in the big build-up, the effort and expense, the obligations, and many times, the over-indulgence that accompanies those appointed days. They were always followed by a somewhat “blue” period of let-down and recovery. Somehow–and not consciously at first–I eased away from the extremes and started asking for balance and meaning in all things. Over the last few years, I have been very intentionally studying how to find that meaning and balance.

On my calendar, I don’t have much need for marking certain days as special. Birthdays might be an exception. I like to acknowledge my happiness that certain people ended up on the planet in the same vicinity and time I occupy. (Not that I don’t do that on other days, too.) Birthdays are not imposed upon us the way that contrived holidays are, like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s and Father’s Day, even Thanksgiving.

I have come to see every day as filled with the same opportunities to celebrate, give gifts, laugh, eat good food, gather with the best of company and share love, all that might be expected on holidays. Each day also offers the opportunity to grieve, express sorrow for our losses, and honor those who have come and gone, leaving their mark on us. And, my days present the chance to be creative in many ways, including how I make my living.

I do distinguish between holiday celebrations and rituals. I think rituals are valuable, perhaps essential, but they need to be married to a personal intention and meaning behind actions. We can be driven by popular convention or by blindly doing what we’ve always done, or we can look at each approaching day–regardless of what the calendar says–and give it our own particular meaning.

My intentions? To give thanks, to say “you are loved” as much as possible, to help someone in need, to show that I care, to try to make the world a more peaceful and beautiful place…and to do this EVERY day.

Can you spin the everyday commonplace into something extraordinary?

Money

I’ll bet the “M” word gets your attention and maybe sets your heart racing a little…or even a lot. I know it can do that to me.

Money has always been a rather sensitive area for me and a book I read recently let me know I am among good company in that respect. “The Soul of Money” by Lynne Twist led me to examine all of my largely automatic and deeply embedded thoughts, feelings and reactions regarding money. The author’s approach to the subject gave me a fresh understanding of the past, present, and possible future of money on personal and global levels.

Ms. Twist says that, by looking at our own financial “story” and the ways our beliefs have limited and constricted our relationship with money, we can re-conceptualize money. She relates stories of real people to illustrate her points. One of the stories that had an impact on me centered on the Achuar people in the Amazonian rain forest who had lived without money for thousands of years. Can you imagine that? It was hard for me to digest the idea, but doing so opened the doors to new ways of looking at money’s role in my life.

“Money is like an iron ring we put through our nose. It is now leading us around wherever it wants. We just forgot that we are the ones who designed it.”
–Mark Kinney

Let’s peel back thousands of years of conditioning and assumptions and consider some very basic observations:

  • Money is not a product of nature. It doesn’t grow on trees. Pennies don’t rain from heaven.
  • Money is a human invention, an inanimate object that has taken many forms in the 2500-3500 years it has been around.
  • Money was invented to facilitate the sharing of goods and services.

Money still facilitates the exchange of good and services, but somewhere along the way, the power we gave money overtook its original role. Now, instead of relating to money as a tool we created and control, we see it as a force of nature. This stuff called money, which has no more inherent power than a tissue, is the single most controlling force in our lives.

We are raised to believe the 3 Myths of Scarcity:

  1. There is not enough.

  2. More is better.

  3. That’s just the way it is.

Ms. Twist proposes that instead, we look at money as a flow, like water, rather than a static amount of something we need to accumulate. “Money is a current, a carrier, a conduit for our intentions.” We all stand in the flow of money and have the opportunity to direct it.

Can you, will you…

…align the acquisition and allocation of financial resources with your most deeply held values?
…shift from an economy of fear, consumption, and scarcity, to an economy of sufficiency, sustainability, and generosity?
…generate an expanding flow of resources toward the affirmation of life and the common good?

If you’d like to find out more about the book, “The Soul of Money,” Lynne Twist or The Soul of Money Institute, visit LynneTwist.com.

Do you use the “s” word at work?

Oprah Quote

I participated in a LinkedIn discussion last week, which is a new experience for me. I was drawn in by the title of the post: “Spiritual Ideas in Business: difficult and strategic,” which was written by a fellow member of the Conscious Capitalism group. Because I have avoided the use of the word, “spiritual” (the “s” word) in business due to the charge it carries for many people, I was curious to hear what others had to say on the subject.

The author, Joe Kittel, posed the question: “Why is it so hard to talk directly, clearly and boldly about practical spirituality in the world of business?” His answer to that question begins:

“Most business relationships fail, and they fail mostly due to failure in relationship.
And …
Practical spirituality is about the deepening of relationship; it is about making relationships better.
If we cannot talk about spirituality, we cannot apply these ideas to improve business relationships.”

While I have centered LM Studio’s core mission on the very essence of “s,” I can see both sides of the question I posed in the title above. I truly believe that running a business based on the same principals by which we live every other part of our lives can bring a unification and purity of purpose, putting everyone involved in the proverbial “flow.” There is no “work me” and “real me”–they are one and the same. There is no separate set of rules in business that make it OK to lie, cheat or manipulate to the detriment of others when you wouldn’t think to do that to someone in your personal life.

To actually use the “s” word with clients or prospects, though, is another story. My experience and observations point to a very clear dividing line that has been drawn between individual emotional and spiritual life and business practices. I have left the word out of my work vocabulary because I thought it might possibly alienate someone. Spirituality is often confused with the “r” word, religion, which we know is a hot-button for many. It may carry the connotation of “woo-woo,” that left-of-center, out-there, “she’s weird,” kind of meaning. Following this line of thinking might lead people to extrapolate that I am “flaky,” which could translate to “unreliable” or “ungrounded.”

So, my approach to broaching any “spiritual” ideas in business has been to simply not label that way. Instead I turn to other words like “connection” and even “love.”

Here are some queries to ponder:

  • Is my shying away from using the “s” word inhibiting the word becoming more acceptable in the mainstream?
  • Would the use of the word attract the very “tribe” of change-makers I seek?
  • Are those for whom the word is off-putting be people with whom I would wish to connect?
  • Do we need to ease people into the concepts of spirituality in business in order to keep minds open? If we are too much “in the face” of those for whom the idea is difficult, do we lose the opportunity to help them see a different way? Isn’t the goal to preach beyond the choir?

Your thoughts?