It’s a strange thing to be in the middle of my life. The urge to say ‘Mommy and daddy, look what I can do already’ has long now subsided. Instead I am beginning to suspect that not far from now my kids will start to ask the universal question: ‘why, daddy?’ Maybe I am projecting my feeling here, but “I am a manager because I can, because I am very good at it!” just does not seem to cut it. The longer I work in management the more I feel that when done right, there is a quality to this job that transcends its pure mechanics. I can only describe it as “spiritual management” (I have googled the phrase and have found that others have used it too. I admit I have not yet given their ideas a closer look yet).
Why? Well, why not?
Maybe I am transferring a martial arts concept here again: Many martial arts have discovered that fighting without attitude, without true spirit, is both, powerless and worthless. I am convinced the same applies to the profession of management.
Martial artists have reached their conclusion because many of them faced the ultimate risk when entering into a fight: Losing the fight often meant loosing ones life. So it is not a surprise that martial artists have developed a keen interest in the nature of life itself, its relation to their art and the fighters place in the universe. That’s why martial arts are sometimes called “philosophy in motion”.
Working in management may seem less risky than fighting. But here too the question is in order: how much of our life will be left when we are done with it? Martial arts have given the act of fighting meaning by adding a spiritual component to it. Management on the other hand is still a soulless technicality for many of us. That’s why I advocate spiritual management: If you have a career in management then you are one of the few people on earth that have received all the gifts necessary to make real choices in life. You can decide how to fill your waking hours with meaning. You have the intellect, the education, the ability to make enough money to get through. Why should you settle for anything less than meaningful work, than spiritual management?
We that deem ourselves the pinnacle of potential allowed our work to become something alien. There seems to be a big gap between ‘life’ and ‘management’. And paradoxically this gap even seems to be growing: while we strive for wholeness it has at the same time become a fashion to separate between profession and person (look at the work life balance discussion for example). While a I am convinced that we should never let us be reduced to our jobs, I also think we should not let us be divided from them either. I even go one step further: I absolutely recommend taking your job personally, to reunite profession and person and by doing this become the sword (see my post on kikentai management). Why? Because I believe that life simply is too short to spend most of it on something that ‘is not us’.
When we are ready to give our entire being into the job without holding back, work and life are not in balance, but simply one. And when we lead this work/life carefully and consciously we can find spiritual fulfillment and meaning in our work. We can make it something nourishing instead of straining. A spiritual journey.
I am looking forward to the day I can explain that to my kids.