When people hear the word “spiritual” they don’t typically think professional performance. Instead it tends to evoke thoughts of religious convention or the belief and following of a higher, all-knowing power. This is all true, but when you dig a little deeper it also uncovers a key component in keeping our motivation batteries going and that’s values alignment.
Over the past several blog posts I have been covering the various components of a concept presented in a HBR article called “The Making of a Corporate Athlete.” The article discusses that business professionals should train throughout their careers like a professional athlete. To do this successfully one must develop and maintain physical, emotional, mental and spiritual capacity, with each one building on the last. Look at it like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Too often we grind through our careers without nurturing each of these essential components and this keeps up from performing at our peak and can quickly lead to burnout.
Spiritual capacity is the top of this hierarchy and cannot exist successfully without the other three being maintained. Spiritual capacity is the ability to use our own values system to help drive and motivate us to success in our lives. I have blogged about the concept of aligning values with your professional career in the past and I am a big believer in this concept. Ultimately, finding a career path that is in alignment with your values is the ideal scenario, but I also realize that this isn’t always realistic. But before you can even try to find this kind of fit you must be able to identify what your defining values are and understand how to harness them. Surprisingly, when you ask most people what values drive their behavior, most couldn’t tell you right away, because we just don’t take the time to reflect on this aspect of our personalities. Because of this we are missing a great tool in not only professional success, but also enjoying what we do for a living.
I have talked with colleagues about this concept in the past and many have said, “well, that’s nice in theory, but sometimes you just have to take whatever job is available and willing to hire you.” There is definitely truth in this, but I also argue that understanding your driving value system can still help your career even if they don’t 100% align with your current vocation. Just going through rituals of reflection (e.g. prayer, service to others, blogging, etc.) can act as a needed source of recovery especially if are trapped in a constant firefighting and losing sight of the bigger picture. Also, by continually reflecting you continue to grow your understanding of what really motivates you and if you aren’t in that dream job now, you will at least know what to look for if the opportunity does arise.
Spiritual capacity can be many things to many different people, whether it’s a deep connection with a higher power or just that feeling you get when you do something for someone else. At the end of the day it all boils down to each of our values systems and being in tune with them.
What are some of the values that drive you and how do you stay in touch with them?