By Dr. Daneen Skube
Tribune Media Services
Q. I've gone through a tough year, and I've been seeking ways to make sense of all this chaos. I'm looking at joining a church and researching different spiritual traditions. Is there any research that says what the impact is of spirituality on success at work?
A. Yes, there is quite a bit of research that suggests that spirituality in the workplace goes beyond just giving workers a sense of peace and helps employees with productivity.
I should note that spirituality is not necessarily the practice of formal religion. I've previously covered in this column the ways religion can divide rather than connect people at work.
Most religions have a core of commonality with each other that can improve workplace productivity. As long as you don't use your religion of choice to start a holy war at work, spirituality can provide many benefits. Let's look at some of the ideas that connect most spiritual traditions and the practical applications for work:
1. Something out there loves you. Now next time something crappy happens, consider it is not because you are a bad person. What if you keep a keen eye out for the opportunity, education or benefit this difficult circumstance could provide. How much better would you cope with stress? How much more frequently would you be able to get something out of difficulties you can't avoid?
2. Love other people. Love implies empathy and seeing ourselves in others. If we notice what we can't stand about others, might we not also have a window into what we need to work on in ourselves? As we get brave enough to change what we don't like about ourselves, how much easier will it be to set kind but clear limits with others who are refusing to grow up?
3. You have an immortal soul. OK, so this is a really interesting concept. I often ask you to consider worst-case scenarios. If this spiritual idea is right, then there are only three bad things that can really happen in life: you can die; people and things you care about can be taken away; and you can suffer (but if the suffering becomes too severe, see No. 1). Now if the immortal soul idea is accurate, your worst-case scenario is you get shot back into the lap of God, love, heaven - and, if the Buddhists are right, you even get more chances.
4. If you will be OK despite the three bad risks of life, how much more confidently, peacefully and bravely would you be about doing what's fun and matters to you at work? How many more risks might you take to make money, make a contribution and climb up your chosen ladder?
Most national polls say that more than 90 percent of Americans believe in God, 85 percent believe in heaven and 82 percent in miracles. Research on catastrophes shows that people who believe in their ability to cope are the ones who survive. If a spiritual basis helps you cooperate with others and deal with the next calamity at work, then indeed why couldn't God be a professional asset?
As you search, walk gently around the beliefs of others. A soul connection may benefit you greatly, but getting into fights about whose God is the real CEO of love on the planet is useless.
THE LAST WORD(S)
Q. I get extremely nervous when I contribute ideas during team meetings. Is there any fix to get over my anxiety?
A. Yes, contribute ideas more often. Anything we do frequently gets easier.
Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker. You can contact Dr. Skube at www.interpersonaledge.com or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027. Sorry, no personal replies.
This column was printed in the January 2 - January 15, 2011 edition.