Posts in ‘Spirituality in Business’

As the Paradigm Shifts #Y: Yin and Yang

by Rosie Kuhn on October 12, 2011

In Asian philosophy, the concept of yin and yang is used to describe how polar opposite and seemingly contrary forces, are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, are equal qualities and how they give rise to each other in turn. Opposites thus only exist in relation to each other. Many natural dualities—e.g. dark and light, feminine and masculine, low and high, cold and hot— are thought of as manifestations of yin and yang (respectively).  They interact within a greater whole, as part of a dynamic system. Everything has both yin and yang aspects as light cannot exist without darkness and vice-versa, but either of these aspects may manifest more strongly in particular objects or beings, and may ebb or flow over time.

Further, whenever one quality reaches its peak, it will naturally begin to transform into the opposite quality: for example, grain that reaches its full height in summer (fully yang) will produce seeds and die back in winter (fully yin) in an endless cycle.

Yin and yang are bound together as parts of a mutual whole (i.e. you cannot have the back of a hand without the front). A way to illustrate this idea is to postulate the notion of a race with only men or only women; this race would disappear in a single generation. Yet, men and women together create new generations that allow the race they mutually create (and mutually come from) to survive. The interaction of the two gives birth to things. Yin and yang transform each other: like an undertow in the ocean, every advance is complemented by a retreat, and every rise transforms into a fall.

The inception of each organization or institution arrived within a thought, which moments before was part of the vast void or sea of unconsciousness (Yin); a place of mystery, receptiveness, openness, allowing that are essential in every aspect of life. The birth of every thought, idea, project, invention and organization are the gifts from this undervalued domain.

Most Westerners believe that it is our thinking, our reaching for, our interconnecting of thoughts that procreates and manifests – it’s the doing that generates what is (Yang), not the being (Yin). When we focus on the act of creation we may ignore the aspect of being without which life, corporation, financial and religious institutions wouldn’t exist (The Yin Factor). The womb is where inception takes place. It is where creation occurs, gestates and forms until birth.

The decline of our world powers and many of the structures that support the notion of human domination have been built through Yang-ness: Think. Build, Do, Grow. The absence of the Yin factor, ignoring it’s vital contribution to life has created such an imbalance that the inevitable is occurring – The Fall; and we are surprised, overwhelmed and unprepared!

This isn’t a bad thing. It’s part of the Universal laws of change. For an apple tree, from winters gift of rest, comes a life force in Spring that manifests as blossoms that over the seasons transmutes into fruit which fully ripens then falls to the ground, where, if not eaten will decompose and rot, nourishing the tree, while its own seeds will generate new life. There’s nothing bad about this cycle and we wouldn’t consciously want to change a thing about this; however the one-pointed focus on production and rewards has left us unconscious of the other essential half of the equation. We’ve ignored the necessary yin-ness of our being, pushing so hard that we’ve exhausted our resources, and just like the apple tree after creating its bounty, we too need winter to rest. We too need to focus our attention away from production and allow ourselves to be immersed in the experience of the fall, just like the apple at the moment of full impeccability, just like a fetus in the womb, just like the moment before a corporation goes public, something happens (Yinness – the great mystery), the fully formed organism has to detach from its source. The birthing process has completed itself and the fertile ground is ready to receive and engage with this new creation.  Inevitably growth and decline and death are intertwined for every single entity, thought and institution. Those focused on the Yangness of life distract and deny the essentialness of the decline and death.

Steve Jobs’ life and death are a beautiful reflection of the Yin Yang principle. The quote that I’ve included in this piece reflects that wisdom of including the intuition, the knowing that resides in the fecund void. “Have the courage to follow your heart and your intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.”  His brilliance wasn’t born out of his intellect alone (Yangness), but was nurtured and nourished through his openness and receptivity to an illogical and irrational aspect of life (Yinness). His famous speech given at the 2005 commencement ceremonies at Stanford University encouraged listening to and embracing our own highest knowing, acting in our own highest good, for in doing so we are acting in the highest good of everyone and everything. Balancing our intellect with the heart and the soul – through which the Great Mystery reveals itself we will organically fulfill our life purpose and contribute in our own unique way to the unfolding of the Universe.

We want our lives, our projects, our creations and our business to come to their full fruition – and we expect that they continue to sustain that level of fruition, however we continually ignore that all things have a growth phase and a decline phase – Its true of Universes, Galaxies, Stars, planets, plants, animals humans and their creations. Engaging consciously with this reality will allow all of us to allow and except what cannot change and to cultivate the courage to engage with life in the way we can. We will rest in winter’s embrace, renewing ourselves while incubating unknown possibilities, which will contribute to the much needed balance of yin and yang principles required, as the paradigm shifts.

As the Paradigm Shifts #X: Xenophobia

by Rosie Kuhn on October 5, 2011

Xenophobia is defined at Wikipedia as “an unreasonable fear or hatred of foreigners or strangers, or of that which is foreign or strange”.

My sense is that we are all xenophobic. We are all wary of new people, new things and ideas that, though proven by research to be effective means to improve bottom lines, financially and in every other aspect of life, we are too afraid to let go of our inflexibility and invulnerability to try something new.

It’s not uncommon for those who experience xenophobia to fear losing their roles, their positions and identity. We can be suspicious of other people’s activities and sometime be aggressive; desiring the elimination of the other’s presence in order to secure a presumed state of stability. What this does is supports a foundation built on worry and anxiety, which is an unstable platform upon which to build a survival strategy; it will topple under the slightest tremor.

Even with global economic and environmental instability pressing down on us to face what could be the extinction of our economic system or worse yet the extinction of our species, we are too terrified to look beyond our current context and explore those means that will create a paradigm shift. Xenophobia sets off denial as a way of avoiding what we don’t want to face – it’s too scary!

It doesn’t even have to be about the global situations; it could be about bringing more effective processes into management and leadership roles. It could be about recognizing that it’s intimidating to be human in a work environment that isn’t tolerant of its human resource because we are sometime unpredictable, uncontrollable and fallible. It could be about entering into a dialog with yourself about what you are afraid of and how you are being at work in response to that fear. These dialogs reveal many interesting patterns of being that aren’t pathological; they are just ways of being that we’ve not been allowed to be curious about.

We are afraid of being afraid. Under the scrutiny of others, we could be found out as weaker and inadequate, that we are replaceable, or that we have no value what’s so ever. We are all afraid of being found out that we are not who we pretend to be. When faced with strangers or new people, we are fearful that they may be able to see what we’ve been hiding all along.

Spirituality is a frightening concept to many. Though sought after by millions, it scares the bejesus out of us. We don’t understand it, it makes no sense to put trust and faith in an unseen source, and yet people find comfort when engaged in practices that support spiritual development. It makes people feel better about themselves and others, the energy shifts – there’s a calmness and peace in the environment and people are more product and happier when cultivating spiritual awareness. Why not invite this into the workplace?

Any phobia starts with a seed of thought that we make believe is real. We cannot overcome any fear until we distinguish the underlying belief we chose to be true. 85% of our fears are irrational and have no evidence to support them in the current paradigm. Most of these fears we took on in our childhood years and never stopped to assess the degree of truth upon which they were based. Our cultures, religions and economic institutions, in general, support the fear-based reality within which we operate and stifle any development that will threaten their position. I believe we are encouraged to be xenophobic. Alternatives to western medicines, fossil fuels, capitalism and fundamental religions, regardless of decades of research that point to the value they bring, are feared and made to look as though they are serious threats to our well-being.

Within our business environments how is xenophobia encouraged? Your institution may be a rare example of being free from such a mechanism; however, the truth is that the barbs of fear that we carry are so unconscious that we don’t know that we don’t know about the underlying fears from which we operate. Only through inquiry and direct confrontation with ourselves are we able to unconceal fearful patterns of being that originated from a single moment that birthed a single thought that started the ball rolling.

All organizational dysfunctions originate from one human being whose fear-based choices permeate throughout the whole. Fear is highly contagious; the remedy is alternative in nature, for as Einstein said, you can’t to solve the problem with the kind of thinking that created it. Fearful thinking begets fearful solutions.

How do we be with our fears in a way that allows them to be recognized for what they are? We can’t overcome our fears until we discover the underlying beliefs that trigger them in the first place. As long as we continue to pretend that we are not afraid and there’s nothing to be afraid of in the first place, we’ll never stop having to pretend.

What’s possible through this exploration is that we recover truths and clarify realities by which to re-choose what we choose to believe in and act from. Without such an expedition, our business environment will have no way to recover itself and be optimal in its ability to create and produce from a highly functional perspective – something untenable in a xenophobic environment. When we realize that we are all unique to each other and that our ways of being and the ideas and gifts we bring to the table are reflections of a larger, more expansive source of these ideas, we are then empowered to be curious, willingly mining for the nuggets of gold that support true innovation and exponentially empowers the essential paradigm shift.

As the Paradigm Shifts #W: Will

by Rosie Kuhn on September 28, 2011

I’ve been thinking about this blog for awhile, specifically the intention I had in mind – what I wanted to convey regarding our will. The third step of the Twelve Step Program came to mind:

We turn our will over to the care of a higher power as we understand it

(The original version is: We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understand him. Quite often, people are turned off by the religious components of the twelve steps, so I am paraphrasing in order to hopefully make this more palatable).

What I realized was that throughout our lifetimes, we’ve turned our will over to higher powers many times. From the time we take our first breath we turn our will over to our parents, teachers, coaches; we turn it over to our employers, our lovers and sometimes our children. We turn it over for the purpose of physical survival as well as emotional, spiritual and economic survival. We turn our lives and our will over to those who require respect and authority over us. As a consequence, we often learn to choose disempowering interpretations about ourselves and our lives; we learn to compromise and compensate for the loss of our will; our spirit and life-force; and we choose to use our will in ways that temporarily relieve suffering of such a loss (most of this is unconscious).

In a sense, we have surrendered our essential-self, which handicaps our capability to fulfill our highest expression of Self. Instead we compensate for what is no longer accessible by justifying our existence with what we do and what we get paid to do. Connection with our life force is lost and we use our willfulness to do what we are supposed to do.

To be willful is to thrive and yet, to be willful as a child or as an adult who is required to meet certain expectations is often punished, rejected or humiliated. We’ve all learned to temper our will for the will of those of higher authority. Feelings of powerlessness and helplessness to make a difference in the world turns us toward activities that numb us in all ways. TV, food, gaming, just to name a few, keep us from experiencing the desperateness that underlies so much apathy and dis-ease caused by surrendering our will to others. When we capitulate our ability to empower ourselves in service to our highest truth and our highest good we’ve lost connection to our essential nature and to Universal Consciousness, the source of all that is.

Not my will but Thy will be done

In the world of business each of us is required, sooner or later, to discover what is ours to do. Recognizing and acknowledging this then requires us to observe how we choose to use our will and whether this is, or isn’t, in service to our highest knowing. This is the moment when great leaders are born, as well as great managers and team players. When we choose to use our will to play it safe and stay small we are willingly fencing ourselves off from what we are wanting to avoid, that, however will inevitably precipitate a breakdown. Our survival mechanism – the way we use our willfulness to suffer, settle and survive, will need an overhaul.

I have no doubt that each of us is exactly where we need to be in order to figure out what’s truly ours to do. Willingly and courageously inching our way through the maze of confusion; willfully taking a stand for a quality of being that will transforms corporate culture is a self-transcending process for each individual and for each individual business institution.

We are all essentially in the process of recovery from the influences of our current paradigm, primarily the fear-based reality we are immersed in. Any traumatization we’ve experienced by our circumstances, to whatever degree, has to be worked through, reintegrating our souls/our will back into our bodies. Business environments are a perfect for this healing to occur, because of the multitude of opportunities we meet daily to use our will in alignment with our highest truth. Sometimes we can do this on our own, sometimes we have to reach out for help, and sometimes we feel like we are beyond help. In these moments we realize that we’ve turned our will over to a higher power that failed us. With no hope in sight, where do we turn?

We’ve corrupted our own identity by willingly surrendering our life force to those to whom we have been forced to trust. How do we begin to willingly choose differently, to will the will of our own highest power – our own highest truth?

Willingly stopping the corruption inside ourselves and all of our organizations is only possible when we are willing to notice that it is in all of us and that only through each of us can we begin to practice something different.

At what point do we consciously choose to turn our will over to an invisible source of support? Most of us wait until it is beyond obvious that our lives have become unmanageable and we are powerless over our addictive ways we deal with our circumstances. At this point, too frequently, we hurt like hell and feel as if we have no other option but to turn our will and our lives over to the care of this Universal Source of all the is.

Though it is the same process – turning our will over to God as we understand him (Sorry for the religious languaging), to do it consciously feels vulnerable and scary. Consciously choosing to surrender is different than using the usual logic and justification: “I have to because my boss says I have to; I have to if I want this promotion; I have to if I want to if I don’t’ want that SOB breathing down my neck.” Surrendering our will in these cases required a surrender of our integrity and dignity. I think that’s very telling. We can stop this corrupt practice by revealing the denial that is going on inside each of us.

Regardless of our work environment we have the opportunity to notice how we use our will to empower or disempower ourselves by giving power away to those we choose to have authority over us. How has it served you to exercise your will in this way? What’s it like for you to live with these choices? Are there other choices that would be more empowering for you and your company?

Notice when what you are wanting isn’t in your highest good or the highest good of anyone! Continually ask yourself if what you are thinking or doing is in your highest truth and highest good. If it isn’t, you might want to engage with someone that can support you in making the changes you want.

To willingly engage in this practice of cultivating awareness is in alignment with the paradigm shift. More and more support is available to you and your business organization to ensure an extraordinarily empowering experience. Enjoy the Adventure!

As the Paradigm Shifts #V: Vulnerability

by Rosie Kuhn on September 21, 2011

You must have seen it coming: after all of these weeks …

From the moment we are born we are vulnerable to – well, to everything. Very quickly, and as best we can we begin to tap into strategies that keep us invulnerable to starvation for nourishment and nurturing. We begin to calculate –developing strategic ways to get what we need and perhaps what we want. Our parents can tell a cry that means a diaper needs changing from a cry that says I’m hungry. We learn very quickly how to take care of the situation and minimize vulnerability.

As calculating as we can be, there comes a moment when we are whacked upside the head with the proverbial  2×4, which knocks us senseless and into an even more shrewd way of being in order to avoid any further vulnerability. We continually build on this until we’ve well established, what Tracy Goss calls, our winning strategy. She calls it a winning strategy because it keeps you winning at getting what you want, when you want; until it doesn’t. At some point it becomes clear that this winning strategy limits what’s possible and though you remain invulnerable, which seems like a good thing, you are unable to access what’s necessary to have what you say you want. The only way to shift this process is to willingly risk being vulnerable – only in service to what you say you want.

Remember earlier when I talked about that moment when you decided to be invulnerable? In that instant what occurred that had you make that decision was too painful and too challenging for a little kid to handle. As a kid you had no one to tell you that you are going to be okay. In that moment you were all alone and alone you made that choice to protect yourself at all cost.

At some point in each lifetime we are required to meet again that moment when we have to be willing to risk what we couldn’t risk as a child. We have to trade invulnerability for what we say we want. Now, being an adult, we’ve had plenty of experiences where we calculatingly traded our invulnerability for vulnerability. Trying out for various sports, asking someone for a date, applying to colleges and jobs, asking for a raise; each of these were instances where you chose vulnerability in order to get what you wanted. This is a very good thing and indicates you know how to stretch and strengthen the muscles required to take the risk. What has us be able to risk some times and not others, in other words what has us be more vulnerable in some circumstances while not in others?

In the world of business the majority of us are walking around limited by our winning strategies, remaining invulnerable. This keeps us safe, secure and stable but also most of the time unfulfilled. I’ve begun working with a new client, Patricia, who has phenomenal skills in her line of business but is scared to death to risk losing the stability she’s created, even though she is terribly miserable in her work. She is not alone. Approximately four out of five individuals feel the same way as Patricia.

When Patricia thinks about quitting her job and changing careers she feels like a tiny incapable human being. In that moment she’s calling up the young child to be vulnerable. Think about it for just a moment. We approach this moment of risk as if we were that young innocent child, not the grown up that has risked many times before and come up successful.

The evidence is stacked up in your favor that you will survive taking risks. At the same time you hold on to that one instance in your life when all was lost (because you were only a little kid and didn’t have the wisdom of a grownup to deal with the fallout). You were lost and not yet found. Yes, not yet found.

When what’s at stake is more important to you then the safety of the prison you’ve built through the practice of invulnerability you are, in that moment, given the opportunity to find yourself. Lost or left behind, you can re-member and reclaim any and all aspects of the you, you left behind. It is an exquisite reunion, one you’ll never forget.

Patricia knows that hiding out within the walls that protect her will never replace the feeling of fulfillment she knows exists outside. In this moment, while you are reading this, she is calculating what’s at stake and if it’s worth the risk.

Our business, the work we bring to the world, I believe to be the most crucial aspect of self-expression. And, I also believe that self-expression, in whatever form that takes, is essential to thriving. To empower yourself and others to step out beyond the walls that only seemingly keep you safe, you create an opening in the current reality for a paradigm shift. You have no idea the positive repercussion that follows such an act. Even the slightest movement in the direction of what you want, which requires risk and faith, will reward you with a sense of accomplishment that is in itself a beautiful remuneration. Give it a try – what have you got to lose?

There is great value in investing in a thinking partner for yourself or for those you want to empower. According to statistics, hiring a coach is crucial to growing yourself and your business. Reading pieces like this is a start, yet without action nothing changes.

Enjoy the adventure!

As the Paradigm Shifts #U: Ubiquitous and Universality

by Rosie Kuhn on September 14, 2011

I love the word ubiquitous. It’s got big energy. It has a quality of being that is bigger than, more expansive and universal in nature. It means everywhere, ever present, all pervading omnipresent, universal. So yes, this does describe that aspect of spirituality in business that I’m wanting to capture – that quality of presence that is always and everywhere: It’s pervasive in grace and glory and its capacity to transform business is beyond the beyond.

Look at all of the writings on leadership and business practices that intend to provide more effective, more prosperous practices for corporations, businesss, investors and employees. Everyone is looking for that magic pill, the big BANG that will transfigure our current circumstance to outstanding results. Anyone willing to engage the ubiquitous and the universal? Not many people are. Its takes moxee, houchspa, courage and bravery and the willingness to put everything on the line. You are facing the death of your identity, as you’ve known yourself to be. You are taking the leap with vision and compelling intention – there’s no stopping you when you are this committed, but are you? Are you committed enough?

My client, Orin, in Israel is on the verge of making the leap. He’s very good at what he does as a manager in a primo corporate position. He has the wisdom to know that he could set his sights low, settle for safety and security. He could continue to placate his manager, saying the rights things ensuring he doesn’t rock the boat. However, he hasn’t hired just anyone as his executive coach. He’s hired me – someone who empowering clients to think and live into the context of ubiquitous universality. This means allowing a more expansive outlook to be included in his choice-making process. This notion challenges him. It’s daunting to consider a paradigm shift, especially when you have a wife and children that count on you. He knows though that what is at stake is right livelihood at work for himself, his direct reports and their direct reports, and those to whom he reports. Lateral, horizontal and vertically – he makes a difference.

He has an opportunity to affect the lives of many people, including the well-being of his children. By taking on a more ubiquitous perspective of the reality of life in the corporate world, and on the Earth, he has the ability to bring about a more expansive perspective one where the bottom line is calculated not only by the P&L statement, which includes profitability of conscious communication, sustainability of relationships, the inclusion of more self-empowering skill development.

“What is absolutely true is always correct, everywhere, all the time, under any condition. An entity’s ability to discern these things is irrelevant to that state of truth.” Steven Robiner

One particular dilemma of engaging spirituality in business is that certain principles and concepts have to be addressed in such a way that are ubiquitous – existing and being everywhere. Perennial philosophy is a term for principles and truths that are ubiquitous, conveyed within every religious and spiritual tradition that ever existed.

Perennial philosophy asserts that there is a single divine foundation of all religious knowledge, referred to as the universal truth. Each world religion, independent of its cultural or historical context, is simply a different interpretation of this knowledge. World religions including, but not limited to, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Taoism, Confucianism, Shinto, Sikhism and Buddhism, are all derived from the same universal truth. Although the sacred scriptures of these world religions are undeniably diverse and often oppose each other, each world religion has been formed to fit the social, mental and spiritual needs of their respective epoch and culture. Therefore, perennial philosophy maintains that each world religion has flourished from the foundation of the same universal truth, making these differences superficial and able to be cast aside to find religion’s deeper spiritual meaning. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perennial_philosophy

According to Aldous Huxley author of Perennial Philosophy (1945), According to Huxley, the perennial philosophy is: the metaphysic that recognizes a divine Reality substantial to the world of things and lives and minds; the psychology that finds in the soul something similar to, or even identical with, divine Reality; the ethic that places man’s final end in the knowledge of the immanent and transcendent Ground of all being; the thing is immemorial and universal. Rudiments of the perennial philosophy may be found among the traditional lore of primitive peoples in every region of the world, and in its fully developed forms it has a place in every one of the higher religions. (The Perennial Philosophy, p. vii). From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perennial_philosophy

The gist of this series of Spirituality in Business has been to cultivate awareness of universal challenges and dilemmas that are part and parcel of our everyday life in our work environment. The ubiquitous nature of our humanity engages each and every one of us to discover, recognize and acknowledge the universal nature of our experiences. Regardless of your position in an organization there are certain aspects of being human that you cannot avoid: Assessments and judgments of our successes or lack thereof, fear of rejection and humiliation, conflict and emotional triggers, desires and frustrations, creative engagement with our work, fulfillment and meaning – these are just a few of the circumstances that we encounter every day and requests, no, requires us to transcend our normal operating procedures – our survival strategies, and reach for a way of being that serves the highest good of all ubiquitously – everywhere, always.

This is not rocket science. This is remembering that kindness is the most powerful force of change we have. Through the practice of kindness we transcend egoic conflict and move to a more compassionate, heart-centered engagement that allows all parties to be recognized and acknowledged for their unique perspectives, gifts and contribution to the unfolding of universal expansion. That is what we are all doing here – contributing to universal expansion.

As the paradigm shifts, we effortlessly act from a ground of being that is self-empowering and empowers others to live and work in right relationship with oneself, our teams, our investors – the planet and the Universe at large. It’s big work. Enjoy the adventure!

As the Paradigm Shifts #T: Turbulence

by Rosie Kuhn on September 7, 2011

To state the obvious, there’s no question we are living in turbulent times. The winds of change are creating upheaval and instability, leaving chaos and confusion in its wake. The almighty dollar upon which we’ve built just about all of our institutions, including religion, as well as a sense of security and stability is rocking and rolling like those areas around the planet that are experiencing earthquakes. Everything is getting shaken up.

In the workplace, job security is getting to be a bankrupt concept. And, if you manage to keep your job, most likely you’ve taken on the work of those who have lost theirs. More stress and fewer fulfillment.

Naomi, a client of mine in San Francisco used to love going to work every morning. Now, with a new CEO pressuring the very small staff to produce way beyond their capability, the strain is such that she experiences overwhelm, frustration and, what we normally call depression. “What’s the point?” Naomi asks, rhetorically.  “I used to love my work, but now I’m thinking of leaving. It’s all too much?”

As a sailor who crossed the Atlantic Ocean, I could see the changes on the surface of the water that tells us whether we’ll be experiencing turbulence or calm seas. We could see miles off in the distance any sea change that was coming our way. We could prepare appropriately and settle in for any turbulence.

Though I fly frequently, I am disconcerted by any turbulence we experience in the air because it is invisible, generally speaking. I look out the window intending on discovering that which is the catalyst for my discomfort. As an analogy, I find that these instabilities we are currently experiencing is much the same; where or what is the instigator of all of this turbulence in all of our institutions, our solar system, in the Universe at large? I find it fascinating!

The invisible catalyst is a known entity to those who know. For most of us though we feel victimized by the unseen forces that have wreaked havoc to our lifestyles, our sense of security and stability. We are losing our ground of being that we thought was us! Every aspect of life is getting a good shake up. The question I pose is what is our role in this shake up? How do we be with the devastation of our life paths that lay in ruin? Is there a way to create stability in an unstable environment?

Nowhere to Run, Nowhere to Hide!

In any work environment, each of us brings with us, on a daily basis, a sense of un-assuredness. And, with that comes stress, worry and perhaps a less then calm and serene demeanor. We feel helpless and powerless in the face of these turbulent times. Like Naomi, the heads of institutions are bringing in the sails, battening down the hatches, throwing access baggage overboard. We are always wondering if today is the day that we walk the plank.

So what’s the solution? Well, since, on a spiritual level, there is no problem, then there’s no solutions required. What is required is remembering who you are in the first place. Who were you before you were a business person, a member of a cultural or religious tradition; before you were a man or a woman? It takes a lot of sifting through the myriad identities that we’ve overlaid upon our essential nature, however, by remembering who you really are, you come to find the calm sea within, realizing that, like Shakespeare says we are merely players on this stage we call THIS LIFE. We can leave the behind our roles, identities and characters. In doing so we come back to the “me” underneath it all.

I googled spirituality in business, again, and found more articles and blogs that share the degree to which business people are engaging in spiritual conversations in the workplace.  I’m not making this stuff up, attempting to convince you of the paradigm shift within which we are immersed. I am encouraging you to see how disempowered you can believe yourself to be in this moment, or, you can cultivate awareness and awaken to how empowered you are to empower yourself and others.

Our business institutions are the spiritual centers now. It is where we practice the essential truths of our religious and spiritual traditions. Its where we practice acceptance of what we cannot change, courage to change the things we can and the wisdom to know the difference; its where we practice compassion, for there but for the grace of God go thee; it’s were we deliver ourselves from evil for the sake of well-being of every being on the planet as well as the planet herself; its, as Mahatma Gandhi said – being the change we wish to see.

Turbulence? You bet. It gives us the opportunity to discover clarity of knowing there is nothing to fear but fear itself (I’m so grateful for all of those who’ve created these incredibly wise statements.). Discovering, recognizing and acknowledging this Truth is essential to the journey. With this in mind, enjoy the adventure!

As the Paradigm Shifts #S: Sacrifice

by Rosie Kuhn on August 30, 2011

I grew up in Michigan in a large Catholic Family in the 50’s and 60’s. I was taught that sacrifice was the price you paid to get into heaven. In service to this I let go of my wants, needs, thoughts and feelings. What I was left with when I hit my 30’s was pretty much an empty shell of a being and became, to some extent robotic – exclusively looking outside myself for commands for me to follow. I was terrified to think, feel or act on my own volition. Having never been given a copy of the blue prints or the How To Manual for being me, I had no idea what course to steer to get to my true north. Over decades I taught myself how to listen to my internal wisdom and practiced checking inside myself, retracing my steps (from before I could even walk) to rediscover my fullest expression of myself.

In the name of Heaven we make incredible sacrifices. The question is – what is Heaven? More importantly in the context of this series, what is Heaven to you? How will you know when you’ve arrived?

Given that we are talking most specifically about spirituality in the business, I suspect that each one of us has maneuvered into our current roles and positions because to some degree we are wanting to create heaven on Earth, especially when it involves the fact that we spend at least one third of our lives in this environment. What have you sacrificed in order to be where you are right now, in this moment? What I’m really wanting to know is – have you sacrificed the right things in order to have what you currently have? Rarely do I use the word right, so I’m obviously on the way to making a point!

On Tuesday, I spoke to the San Francisco Professional Career Network. These individuals are in the process of once again becoming gainfully employed, however many of them are up against some very stiff resistance (the R word, remember?). Not much different than many of us, they experienced rejection, trauma, abuse, neglect and humiliation in their previous work environment, and as they move in the direction of employment, something stops them. What stops them, and appropriately so, is the memory of what they’ve previously sacrificed for what they thought would provide stability, a role that contributed to the growth and development of their company, as well as a sense of personal and professional fulfillment. They are now having to choose to choose what to choose in service to what it is they want. This time they have the opportunity to choose what to sacrifice from a more conscious perspective.

Everyone has to make the choice to sacrifice that which they are willing to sacrifice: Health, family, personal fulfillment, creativity, integrity, financial stability, trauma, stress, abuse – each of us has our price.

I’m suggesting that maybe what we’ve sacrificed isn’t worth the price. This is a huge spiritual issue for those who have come to believe that financial stability will create happiness. The current global economic circumstances are indicating that, that may be an inaccurate assumption. The wounding that has occurred – that we’ve allowed to occur for the sake of financial viability for many has cost them their lives, their families and their dignity. I don’t think this is working very well – do you?

I’m guessing that when searching your internal database you’ll un-conceal regrets and lost dreams that were sacrificed for what at that time seemed like the appropriate or only choice to be made. All of us have these regrets and losses, yet until we come face to face with them and the emotional well of powerless and hopeless that has never been mined we will continually repeat the circumstance – just different environments and we’ll never allow our essential self to guide us to our fullest expression.

It makes sense to me that many of those individuals in the San Francisco Professional Career Network are balking at returning to the corporate environment. It makes sense to me that they are no longer willing to sacrifice their souls for the almighty paycheck.

Not all work environments are dysfunctional but the fact of the matter is that too many are dysfunctional. My belief is that because most of us were raised in families where dysfunction played a huge role in how we come to see ourselves, how we value and treat our selves and how we choose to choose what we choose, we can’t help but create environments that reflect the same.

I believe that each of us has come to this planet to fulfill a very specific life purpose. My job is to support people in choosing to choose to live into that purpose – fearlessly. This conversation definitely includes the question “What get’s sacrificed?” It also allows evidence to speak for itself; “Has it worked so far to give up what is most essential to your BEING and to you living your LIFE PURPOSE?”

This line of questions emphatically points to the dilemma and what we do in this dilemma. The dilemma is a choice-point where most of us choose to choose NOT to choose, thus experiencing a quality of life that feels stuck, lost, paralyzed, trapped, confused, depressed. SIGH! I know of no one who is allowed the “get out of jail free card” and doesn’t have to actually choose when facing the inevitable choice-point: Now or later – it’s up to you!

I don’t wish this moment on anyone, however, the inevitability of it is what it is. I can’t convince or cajole you to take me seriously. I only encourage you to feel into your heart and soul and reveal, discover and acknowledge your own evidence, your own truth and your own wisdom to know what is yours to do.

Enjoy the exploration!

The Constraints of No Boundaries

by Rosie Kuhn on August 24, 2011

It’s not uncommon for children to grow up not knowing their own beautiful thoughts and feelings and their essential needs and wants. You might be asking “How can that be?” Well, it’s one of the ravages of families and the individuals inside them. They are at war with themselves with no one to mediate a peace treaty.

In some ways we have no choice in the matter when it comes to which family we arrive into as infants. I don’t know a single soul who asked to be born into violence, depression, poverty and sickness. But here we are, thousands of years of cultivating intelligence within societies and cultures and we still have children arriving in families that just don’t know any better than to fight, implode, feel lack and aching.

So, I’m going out on a limb here and assume that many who are reading this know what I’m talking about. All of us are refugees of families to one degree or another. All of us struggle with who we are as individuals in relation to the world around us. All of us are persons in exile, either from family and friends, and quite often from ourselves.

When, as children it comes to surviving, the majority of us choose to choose survival and belonging rather than choosing to be a lone wolf. Somewhere, somehow our little choice-maker whispers in our ears “don’t think that”; “don’t feel that”; “we don’t need that”; and soon, we forgot that we could want!

Knowing what You Want

“Just tell me what I’m supposed to want.” My client Andrea shares. “I don’t know how to know what I want. I think I want a relationship but when I get close to someone I get scared and want out! I don’t know – I just don’t know what I want.”

Andrea is a successful Lawyer in New York City. She’s very competent in every aspect of her life, except when it comes to personal relationships. How can that be?

Growing up in a family that looks as normal as any family in her community, Andrea’s grandmother would shame her when she came home with A’s. “What are you, some kind of a smarty-pants?” When Andrea came home with B’s, her grandmother would say “What are you, some kind of an idiot?” Whatever Andrea did she was made to feel guilty or shame for doing what she did and being who she was. Neither her mom nor her dad sheltered her emotionally from the barrage of insults. They each contributed in their own ways to Andrea’s dilemma of not knowing her own thoughts and feelings, wants or needs.

Andrea, like so many of us, gave up her self-respect and dignity for the sake of shelter and food, knowing that someday there would be freedom from all of this.

Enmeshment

Enmeshment is the word used in Marriage and Family Therapy for the process of losing one’s self in support of family culture and for survival. Though I believe that early on, we do know that this doesn’t feel good, after awhile we forget and try to find hope and peace amongst the fragments of life that we’ve come to consider “normal.”

Enmeshment occurs not only in families, but in religions, corporations, and our educational institutions – anywhere and everywhere we are not allowed to know what we want or need, or what we think or feel. It occurs anywhere and everywhere we have to choose to silence our own thinking, our creativity, our sense of integrity and personal accountability. Is there any place that is safe?

This is really important, because it’s not like we can point our fingers at Daddy or Mommy or Grandma, for that matter. Each of us somehow plays a role in wanting people to want what we want, how we want it and when we want it. Any of us in a position of authority has the power to decide how we want others to respond to us. How we be with our authority and how we use our authority is the question at hand. None of us gets immunity for acts of unkindness that in the end burdens others with our unresolved anger, sorrow and fears.

In my studies, at first I was appalled with the concept of enmeshment. It meant that most families were just big balls of emotions, which no one could know about or talk about. But through my experience as a therapist it began to make perfect sense. Now as a transformational coach a great deal of my work is about empowering clients, like Andrea, to realize their own wants and desires and their own thoughts and feelings. What they are finding is that there is freedom that comes with making choices – choices that are in right-relationship with their own truths, not necessarily in alignment with the emotional needs of potential partners, co-workers, friends and most importantly those individuals who have authority over us. Like Andrea, they are learning to create boundaries based on what’s true for them. This can get really squirrelly for a lot of us who can see that maybe we want two opposing things at the same time. And, we want the sense of emotional clarity that comes when we’ve made the “right choice.” Looking to others to tell us if we’ve chosen correctly keeps up using childhood ways that really don’t work in a grown up world. Really – they don’t work!

For Andrea, she wants partnership, romance, security, connection and belonging. She also wants safety, freedom, independence and respect that who she is, is all she needs to be. At 49 years of age, she’s afraid she’ll never get it. My experience tells me that the more clear she becomes with who she is; the more clear she can speak up to those she’d made into authority figures (we do this a lot with our bosses, our partners, even with our children) the more freedom she will experience to create a relationship that includes all the good things that come from being able to speak her truth. We actually create better relationships with people when we can know our thoughts and feelings, know our needs and wants and speak authentically from this place of knowing. Isn’t this what we are all wanting?

It’s a fascinating juxtaposition that boundaries, made by free choice, create freedom. Who would have ever guessed?

As the Paradigm Shifts #R: Resistance

by Rosie Kuhn on August 18, 2011

I’m experiencing resistance to writing this blog. I feel angry, frustrated and distracted by, well … It’s more that I’m allowing myself to get distracted; that way I can avoid being with what I don’t want to be with.

You might be asking – as I would, if I were you, why I’m resisting writing if I’m in the business of writing .

Even though I enjoy writing, it’s challenging at times to put words and sentences together in a way that articulates what I’m wanting to say. Sometimes it comes easy and every so often it’s more challenging to get down on paper exactly what’s wanting to be said. In this moment I’m trying to make sense of the idea that resistance is an important concept to bring into this series on spirituality in business. I’m an intuitive writer and sometimes I’m not the thinker here. I’m just transcribing what’s coming through me. I know that sounds a little whacked, however I find that this way of writing is far more enjoyable, revealing and insightful. The point is that sometimes I have to deal with confusion, uncertainty, doubt, and on occasion feelings of being an inadequate loser. I resist having to confront these beliefs about myself; I’d rather go do something easy and fun, where I don’t feel vulnerable to humiliation.

I guess this is the point, isn’t it. That quite often there are aspects of our work that we resist because we don’t like being engaged in those activities that challenge us. We get bugged by people, places or things and put the brakes on, dig in our heels, avoid, distract or ignore what’s in front of us in service to resistance, which is in service to avoiding the discomfort of vulnerability.

Resistance at Work

My work in corporations brings me face to face with people resisting the very work they are paid to do. I’m stymied by the degree of resistance to do what individuals are hired to do; the lack of collaboration that they agreed to, the lack of leadership and management they were trained to do. People are resisting doing what they’ve come here to do. I find that fascinating!

For many, the rules of the game in any organization are unknown, so you have to play your best poker face, your best everything, always – if you want to get ahead, get that raise or praise. You have to resist direct confrontation or insults; you might resist sexual innuendos. You have to resist getting fired and some people resist getting promoted, but they can’t say that – it’s not politically correct.

One specific manager I’ve worked with in the Silicon Valley was threatened by anyone who showed any inkling of being smarter than he was. He had many opportunities to empower his team members in ways that would enhance their performance, however because of his belief that no one could think better than him, he resisted acknowledging and encouraging his direct reports. Many of his direct reports shared with me that they were frustrated and felt limited in their capacity to do their work. The morale of the whole team was diminished because this manager was afraid that someone might outdo him.

This isn’t uncommon – we all know that. Resistance runs rampant in every institution, enough so that we are resistant to calling this game to a halt. There is something at stake! That something is precious enough that we don’t want to give it up. That something has a big price tag on it. Actually it has two price tags on it. One is the sale price – this is the price tag is what you are selling your soul for (Gag me with a spoon!). This price tag reflects the selling of our integrity, our truth, fulfillment, for the sake of power, position, control – and as always the illusion of invulnerability.

Resistance, as a Muscle

Resistance is an interesting set of muscles that we exercise in service to developing strength, control and power. It’s also a survival mechanism we’ve developed over time, and quite often, like many of our survival mechanisms it becomes automatic and unconscious. We’ve become unaware of why we are engaging those specific muscles in the first place. But a point that I want to make here is that we have no idea how much energy it takes to resist. It’s something you might want to think about.

Resistance looks different for everyone, but what’s important is for you to discover, recognize and acknowledge your own particular style of resistance. Like I said, we are all doing it; it’s just a matter of how and to what end.

As the Paradigm Shifts…

As the paradigm shifts we awaken slowly but surely to our own unique contributions to the way life is, as opposed to the way we desire it to be. We see where we resist shifting and changing as an attempt to hold on to what we’ve got, though what we’ve got isn’t necessarily what we want.

Sometimes the practice is to resist resisting; go with the flow, ride with the tide! But first you/we have to become aware that we are resisting and what that resistance is serving.

You may have heard me suggest this practice before, however here it is again. It’s the simplest practice: Be Kind! Kindness costs nothing, takes no time and contributes greatly to peace on Earth. By practicing kindness you will come up against resistance to being kind. This is the moment we’ve been waiting for where you can begin to question the value of resisting. In this moment you are at a choice-point where you can choose to choose differently. In this moment the opportunity to self-realize is upon you, and with that comes the opportunity to be the change you wish to see.

Enjoy the adventure!

As the Paradigm Shifts #Q: Question Reality

by Rosie Kuhn on August 10, 2011

I read on the back of a car many years ago a bumper sticker that read “Question Reality!” Up until that time my life had been a mish mash of confusing circumstances, and it was a revelatory experience to take these two words deeply into my soul. I breathed deeply and felt as though I’d been given a sign that there was light at the end of the tunnel.

At this same time, the context of my life did not include any mechanisms, supports or guidance that would allow me to take on questioning reality as an overt practice. My parents raised me and my siblings as Catholic. It was a sin to question anything or anyone regarding the authority or truth of what was to be believed.

My context as a female in Middle America also didn’t allow me to ask questions that would potentially ruin my identity as a calm, submissive woman who could be wise but not too intelligent.

Going off to college gave me the opportunity to explore and witness realities lived by other people, however I continued to interpret these different ways of being based on what I still held as right, wrong, good and bad. At the same time, most of the preliminary courses in undergrad were taught by professors who also disallowed the questioning of the reality they were presenting.

Perhaps, all of these obstacles presented to me early in life provided opportunities to covertly practice the art of questioning reality. The value of that is that I wasn’t able to seek the wisdom of others to tell me what was real or true, so I had to do the research and experiment on myself. Today, in the field of research design, this form of study is called heuristic investigation. Here’s how Wikipedia defines Heuristic: “Greek: “Εὑρίσκω”, “find” or “discover”) refers to experience-based techniques for problem solving, learning, and discovery … This method includes using a “rule of thumb“, an educated guess, an intuitive judgment, or common sense.

What do you do when the world is presenting you with a reality that isn’t connected to common sense? What most of us do is conform and contort ourselves as best we can into the context of reality that is in front of us, rarely questioning or using educated guesses, intuitive judgment or common sense.

As the paradigm shifts, we see the dissolving and dissolution of the foundation of our economic reality. What do you make of that? We see the premier leaders of our financial, religious and governments fail to maintain systems that are literally bankrupt in their principles and practices. How do you make sense of that?

In the world of business – the buying and selling of goods and services, questioning reality means dismantling the whole kit and kiboodle and re-inventing based on reality; but first you have to question reality!

A year ago, I choose to end the transformational coach training program. I had designed and facilitated this program for 10 years in the Bay Area, in California. My intuition had been guiding me towards this for years, but I was finally ready to make the leap. While discerning the common sense of this decision it seemed totally irrational and illogical. This program had been my bread and butter. I’d developed a reputation and people were flying in from all over the country to participate in this one year training. What would possess me to give all of that up? Logic and reason were not the major players in this process, and I could do nothing else but question reality. Over the course of this past year I questioned everything and hardly recognize the me that I’ve become. My anxiety is virtually gone; I’m far more calm and peaceful, I laugh far more often and the work I bring into the world is fulfilling. I love it!

A House of Cards

It’s becoming too obvious that there is a dismantling of reality as we’ve known it. And, you’ve heard me say this before, but I’m going to say it again: You are required to play the game. You, me and everyone else in the Western World have built this house of cards we call our reality. Generations of individuals over hundreds of years have brought us to the last cards of the deck. It has culminated into this wonderful masterpiece. And, now, it’s time to dismantle the house either with deliberate consciousness or with a deliberate whack from the proverbial two-by-four. (Don’t you love it when the cards go flying all over the place?)

What I’m wanting is for you to question how you are being in relation to this current reality you call your life and your work? What intentions are being served by your current use of what you consider to be common sense? What flies in the face of this current reality that you hope will go away if you ignore it long enough?

I don’t know if we’ll be saving the planet. I don’t know if we can change the foundations of the current structures that have us think that we are safe from vulnerability. Earthquakes, real and metaphorically have shaken the very ground of being of reality as we’ve known it. Fractures, cracks, fissures leave us dumbfounded with where to begin. Tsunamis, real and metaphorically have washed away the shelters, vehicles and the livelihoods we’d depended upon. What is the reality that exists once we realize that it’s all gone?

Nothing Matters and What if it Did?

People with faith (not faith as in religion but faith as in people who put complete trust in a higher power) have something that is the true foundation of reality. I have no doubt they have questioned the reality in front of them and decided that there is a reality that holds this one in the palm of its hands. They are able to hold the bigger picture and make choices based on this larger paradigm. These people usually share kindness, generosity and compassion effortlessly. Their values dictate choice-making based on spiritual principles instead of social and institutional mandates. They live in integrity and dignity and are accountable for their commitments. Some of these people are my clients and they are managers, CEO’s and COO’s of businesses and corporations around the world. I’m learning from them that to question reality infuses the world with an innovative, higher minded reality that, if nothing else will allow them to empower others to fearlessly question reality. This is how every invention and revelation has come about. Why stop now?