Advertising
Advertising

The Soul of Business

The Soul of Business

When people speak about the soul — outside of a purely religious context — they’re usually referring to the qualities of something (or someone) that they see as fundamental to its identity. The word “soul” is shorthand for the innermost, truest or most obviously unique nature of whatever or whoever they are referring to.

Used in this way, the word can apply to people (where it means whatever they feel is quintessentially “them”), ideas (the part that cannot be taken away without destroying the whole), artistic works (the essence of what makes them great), and communities and organizations. The “soul” of an organization, for example, consists of those apects that make it uniquely what it is — for good or ill.

Advertising

In the workplace, the “souls” of many people meet with the “soul” of the organization. In a civilized organization, this is recognized: maybe not precisely in this way, but in the sense that time and space are allocated to treating people with dignity and allowing them to be themselves. Sadly, in others great violence is done to people’s souls. The “souls” of organizations like this are harsh and unforgiving. People are treated as “resources” to be used in whatever way most benefits the organization — and sometimes thrust aside when their usefulness is past. Their uniqueness is ignored and their innermost hopes and dreams seen as irrelevant to economic goals.

Individuals also do violence to their souls whenever they act in ways that they know, deep down, are at variance with who they truly are; when they accept situations out of fear, greed, or yearning for security even though they feel sick at heart for doing it; or when they fall in with convention for the sake of ambition or “not rocking the boat.”

Advertising

I do not think you can do damage to your soul with impunity. I am not talking in religious terms. I am speaking merely of that sense of yourself and what you feel, deep down, is right and good for you. Harming this — even compromising it regularly — does serious psychological damage that builds up into stress and depression. In extreme cases, it can become a kind of self-loathing that leads people into terrible actions.

Finding ways to make the workplace civilized isn’t simply a pleasant idea, like decorating a house to make it look welcoming or an attractive place to live. It’s essential to people’s well-being; essential too for the long-term health of the organization. David Whyte, writing in The Heart Aroused: Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America

Advertising

    , puts it exactly.

    For consultants and management gurus, the soul is a slippery customer. One the one hand it may be dismissed completely. Many trainers and consultants maintain that the soul belongs at home or in church. But with little understanding of the essential link between the soul life and the creative gifts of their employees, hardheaded businesses listening so carefully to hardheaded consultants may go the way of the incredibly hardheaded dinosaurs. For all their emphasis on the bottom line, they are adrift from the very engine at the center of a person’s creative application to work; they cultivate a workforce unable to respond with personal artistry to the confusion of global market change.

    Related posts:

    Adrian Savage is a writer, an Englishman and a retired business executive. He lives in Tucson, Arizona. You can read his serious thoughts most days at Slow Leadership, the site for everyone who wants to bring back the taste, zest and satisfaction to leadership; and his crazier ones at The Coyote Within.

    Advertising

    More by this author

    Have You Ever Wished Your Kids Will Beg To Do Their Chores? How to Plan Your Life Goals and Actually Achieve Them in 7 Simple Steps 20 Things People Regret the Most Before They Die Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science Quit Your Job If You Don’t Like It, No Matter What

    Trending in Lifehack

    1 The Lifehack Show: How Exercise Slows Aging with Judy Foreman 2 5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life 3 How to Break Out of Your Comfort Zone 4 Why Do I Procrastinate? 5 Root Causes & How To Tackle Them 5 How Setting Personal Goals Makes You a Greater Achiever

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising
    Advertising

    Published on January 27, 2020

    The Lifehack Show: How Exercise Slows Aging with Judy Foreman

    The Lifehack Show: How Exercise Slows Aging with Judy Foreman

    In this episode of the Lifehack Show, we'll be talking with Judy Foreman about the major impact exercise has on aging, both physically and mentally.

    Judy is a nationally syndicated health columnist who has won more than 50 journalism awards. She received a Master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and was a Fellow in Medical Ethics at Harvard Medical School. Judy is also author of A Nation in Pain: Healing our Biggest Health Problem and The Global Pain Crisis: What Everyone Needs to Know.

    Her newest book Exercise is Medicine: How Physical Activity Boosts Health and Slows Aging debunks some common myths about aging and shows that it is possible to reverse the effects we often think of as inevitable.

      Featured photo credit: Anupam Mahapatra via unsplash.com

      Read Next