Many people who are secretly weary of work have never given themselves time, or taken time out or away from work, to allow their spirits to catch up!

– John O’Donohue

This is so true on many different levels, isn’t it? Taking TIME to allow your spirit (or being) to catch up is often quite difficult.

What is it that we need in this day and age to make sure that we stay connected to the deeper part of work? And is it even realistic?

I refer to work not only as paid job or occupation – I refer to any part of “your life’s work”-  being a manager, parent, friend, partner or leader. Is work something that you just do or is it part of who you are? Is it possible that work can be more than what you do, but also how you do it?

John O’Donohue, Irish Poet and Scholar, writes beautifully about work in his book, “Anam Cara”.

“Work could be an arena of possibility and expression and our nature longs for it”, he writes. 

“The soulful approach to the workplace ensures that creativity and spontaneity become energising forces. Remember when you sell your soul, you ultimately buy a life of misery!”

The workplace as a soulful place of creativity and spontaneity? Is this too good to be true or even possible?

It must be possible to find some simple spontaneity or creativity through work to allow your spirit to catch up. It might not be possible to change everything today, but maybe you can change the way you look at things, and look at work with a creative and kind eye as a small step?

If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change!

RESPONSE?

Find one mundane aspect of your work today to do as if it was the first time you were doing it. If it was the first time you had to do this, how would you approach it with creativity and try something different?

Think about the basics. Just the way you arrive at work or leave your home or greet a colleague or pick up the kids or pay the bills or prepare food! Maybe just be creative about the way you sit at your desk?

Go and do your “life’s work” as if for the first time with creativity.

Work soulfully!

André

Soul Nudges 13 // Your next 5 minutes

 

How will you spend your next 5 minutes?

Five minutes are often not enough to do anything significant – not enough for a proper conversation, a game with your kids, a meeting, a walk, a run or just to try and finish an important piece of work. You cannot accomplish much in 5 minutes, right?

In a recent coaching discussion, I conversed with somebody about ideas to bring “the positive” into the present – Shawn Achor (The Happiness Advantage) mentions ideas to bring positive stories and thoughts into the present, and one way is by keeping a gratitude diary. By writing down each day, what you are grateful for and keeping track of that, focuses you into the positive instead of just being negative and reactive. Our coaching conversation centred on the theme of significance and the person’s need to experience significance and she came up with the great idea of a “significance diary”– to have a separate journal or space in her diary and capture moments of significance every day even in the most ordinary situations. What a great idea!

A few days later I received an email from her (with feedback) and a quote of Tom Peters –

“Excellence is not an aspiration. Excellence is what you do in the next five minutes”.

Excellence is what you do in the next 5 minutes even if it is simply to be awake for a significant moment in your day or whatever you are grateful for.

This is such a simple concept in life and work. Be deliberate about how you spend the next 5 minutes, be it leading your team or organisation, having a conversation with a child, seeing the beauty in nature, taking a breath or even just the way that you are driving.

Excellence is not in a specific position, or status, or bank balance or the next business deal. Excellence is simply how you spend the next 5 minutes and recognise the significance within that.

Why don’t you start a significance diary or just take 5 minutes each day to be more deliberate?

Five minutes can make a significant difference!

 

Go well

Soul Nudges 12 // Re-treat yourself

 

I am preparing for a day retreat at the end of May to create space for people to stand back from life – and treat themselves with space and time in God’s presence. Although this specific event is taken from the perspective of Contemplative Christian Spirituality, it is a good habit for anyone to slow the pace and re-treat now and then in your own way.

The word “retreat” as a noun means:

 the act of moving back or withdrawing…

It might feel like a treat just to move back or withdraw for a few seconds in a day or once a month or every six months – try and make a small decision how you will do this for yourself in the next few weeks. You can either book the retreat or try any of the following:

Gratitude diary:

Write down three things that you are grateful for and go and tell somebody about this. Keep up this habit for 28 days.

Space:

Think about one area in your life where you need/crave space at the moment. What would one simple step towards that look like? It might be a deliberate 10-minute walk over lunch? Or a longer, deliberate pause between meetings? Or a prayer? Decide to take one step to create this space and schedule time to get back to this.

Treat yourself and re-treat!

 

The great tragedy of life lies not in how much we suffer, but in how much we miss. Human beings are born asleep, live asleep and die asleep…We have children asleep, raise children asleep, handle big business deals asleep and enter government office asleep.

We never wake up. This is what spirituality is about: waking up.

– Anthony de Mello

 

In this moment how awake are you? I mean, did you really take in what you’ve just read?

Maybe go back for a moment and read the above words of de Mello again, while being more wakeful and more attentive…

Soulfulness is about waking up; it is about doing one thing at a time and really be there for it. It is about the deliberate act of getting out of your sleepwalking patterns. Sleepwalking is a way to cope with the speed of life, the pressure, lots of decisions and multitasking. Sleepwalking is playing into the need to sometimes be on autopilot and just do, do, do. It means to sometimes multitask mindlessly to get through and push through, and that is okay. It is part of life, isn’t it?

But, I do wonder how we can help each other to sometimes just be deliberately wakeful in a specific moment?  To experience how a specific event touches you, or a sunset or a kind word from somebody, a business deal or a hug.

I bumped into somebody this morning who told me that her husband defended his PhD successfully last week after five years of studies and pressure – and how they didn’t even stop to celebrate because there is so much to DO. Most of us can identify with that. Soulfulness is about waking up!

To be wakeful, might be to stop once a week and scan your core experience, the core of what you sense or your core thought and simply be with it. It is about being wakeful to what is important to you. More deliberate wakeful moments will help you to find more meaning and to be more truthful about your vulnerabilities. And isn’t it important in life and leadership to be deliberately wakeful?

 

Think for a moment:

What does it mean to you to be wakeful?

How can you be more wakeful this week?

Take a few moments…

Take a few deep breaths…

What are you more wakeful to now? Keep it simple…

 

Soulfulness is about waking up!!

Stay wakeful!

 

I truly hope this year started with meaning and energy for you and that you’ll have the wisdom to discern about what is important and what matters most!

Although the year just started, it might already feel like “here we go again”? Wisdom and soulfulness rarely happen when you are constantly at full speed – sometimes we need space and time to stay present to what is important.

For me, the essence of soulfulness is to “make time” for experience and inner awareness, (awake) for what is really important to me and translate that into unique, creative and simple, sustainable responses.
I often try to go slower deliberately – don’t get me wrong, speed is okay. To deliberately go slower doesn’t mean that I am less productive or get less done. It is an attitude to stay focused on what is important to me and to really be present. These days it is so difficult to be present because we are everywhere but here, aren’t we?.
Take 5 minutes today and deliberately reflect on the following statements and what it might mean for you regarding one small step?
  • Where can you deliberately go slower in the next week that will help you to be more present?
  • Be very specific and keep it simple!
  • Tell one person about your deliberate act of slowness.
I’d love to hear what you came up with, reply to me with your idea andre@besoulful.co.za – I am sure that we can learn from each other and grow a soulful community.
Take Care and Go Slow

If you don’t choose daily and deliberately to practice loving kindness, it is unlikely that a year from now you will be any more loving.  – Richard Rohr

As we move along through life most of us intend to be kind and loving – it might sound too personal, but I recently experienced exactly this. A few weeks ago a very traumatic event happened at my children’s school and the responses I experienced were mostly kind and loving.

After reflecting on this for a few weeks I realised; when things happen that make us vulnerable, strip us of our ego, our status and our thoughts, we innately respond with kindness. Although it was a traumatic time I’ve realised with new hope: people are mostly good…

But with the speed of life, the fight for survival, the pressure to be who others want you to be and the spirit of competition and comparison, we often lose the ability to return to our God-given goodness. I do anyway. And I need to choose more deliberately in life and work to practice loving kindness – it has to be a choice. It is indeed true that if I do not choose this daily (or anything for that matter), things will be exactly the same a year from now – or perhaps worse.

So choose love and kindness – wherever you go. When you enter the next meeting, choose love, when you get home this afternoon choose love. When you stop at the traffic lights, choose love and when you think about yourself or look in the mirror choose love! Be kind to yourself.

The practice of “random acts of kindness” is one of the practices Brian Draper taught us in 2016. How do you bring the positive into the present today? Choose one area where you can randomly show kindness and stay long enough to really experience how it affects you and what you experience when you focus on this a little longer.

You can respond in your unique way – choose one space for today where you can do this. Do this practice daily. You are innately good and kind – I do believe that. Do you?

And may you experience loving kindness today from others!

Go well

 

What you see is what you get…right?

Leadership and life are so dependent on the way that you look at things. Perception is a reality, isn’t it? Personally, I am not aware enough of the way that I CHOOSE to look at things and how that affects my inner life.

The way you look at things is the most powerful force in shaping your life.

John O’Donoque wrote that if you cannot bring a kind eye of creative expectation to your inner world you will never find anything there.

In my own work and reflections on leadership and life, I am convinced we need to be more deliberate and aware of the way we look at things. Richard Rohr writes about something called Third Eye Wisdom and says that we basically look at things with three sets of eyes.

The Eyes of Flesh (thought/sight), the Eyes of Reason (meditation/reflection) and the Eyes of intuition (true understanding).

This third eye view is knowing something and looking at it simply by calmly being present to it, without processing and overthinking. We often tend to box in, diagnose, categorise, process, interpret and judge…instead of just calmly being present. That might be the only wisdom we need! Third eye wisdom, just calmly being present!

Response:

Take a moment and just be present to what came up for you in the sentences above. Try to notice how you look at things.

  • Do you immediately judge, categorise and reason?
  • How can you be more open to calmly being present to it without processing or thinking too much?

Try to practice this third eye wisdom in the next meeting or the next time you spend time with your loved ones.

Take a deep breath, as slow as possible, and simply reflect on the above questions.

May you look at your world and yourself with kind, creative eyes of expectation!

Go well

At the end of 2017 my wife and I went away for a breakaway weekend in the mountains. When we arrived we unexpectedly lost our phone signal. Suddenly no service! My first impulse was to find the highest point possible and I started climbing the closest hill – I had to make my way up a very steep hill, through bushes where it was really impossible to continue, but initially I tried. After almost falling a few times, losing a shoe, lots of bruises and scratches, still without signal, I turned back.

For the first day I found myself constantly thinking about messages that I should have sent. Being Saturday, I normally follow football scores, which I couldn’t do…leaving me quite irritated. I realised that the possibility to check or search anything immediately really made me impatient. With a smartphone close to you all the time, we are used to getting it all, immediately aren’t we? This is feeding a culture of instant gratification.

Again I had a choice – the rest of the weekend I decided to not give in to this impulse and just to let it go – I felt liberated and present. Calmly present to myself, my wife and the beautiful surroundings, I chose to rather focus on my own inner impulses and experiences. I realised that it is such a blessing that we as human beings can never be offline to our own consciousness. God is always there, always available. But, I am afraid, the constant, instant impulses takes us away from that and from ourselves.

Your creative response?
Maybe, once in a while, try to not give in to the impulse of instant gratification and ask yourself how important it really is. Intentionally wait a few minutes before you check your phone.

The impatience which feeds this impulse, often takes me away to really be online, and soulfully present, in the current moment and within myself.

May 2018 be a year where you intentionally disconnect from the “instant” in order to soulfully connect to what matters most in your life!

Go slow,

We live in a turbulent world, with busy lives and a lot of global and personal challenges because of the speed we are running at. People are searching for meaning and purpose more and more and I’m learning that a big part of the solution has to do with the inner life.

At the end of last year I joined an Exco team for a simple soulful leadership process. In our first conversion, we discussed the shift in organisational consciousness where the organisation is viewed as an organism. Frederic Laloux call these Teal Organisations. Characteristics of these organisations are a strong emphasis on purpose (not only profit), and attending to people as whole human beings. In the closing reflections of the team session I asked the team what their take away was from the morning and how they will respond to this personally and professionally.

One of the most profound and simple (usually this goes together) comments that came back were the one guy who quite passionately told his colleagues: “people need to human man”!

What a simple but profound statement – “people need to human”.

Finding humanity in life, work and leading might be one of the biggest challenges of our time.

The world is busy and turbulent and in such a time as this, part of the solution is to return to the inner life. Leaders need an intentional journey back to their own humanity. Part of this is a journey back to what they are part of (God & context), who they are (identity) and why they are part of this (purpose). The conversation on finding humanity in life and leadership is a crucial conversation to have – to rediscover simple steps towards humanity?

I was further reminded of this question by two invitations during the past 18 months, to the SA Organisational Development Network for a talk on “rediscovering humanity in the workplace” as well as the South African Care Hub on “finding humanity in the care industry”. I also remember a session with a group of bankers reconnecting them with their unique human spirit and how profound they’ve found this. Encouraging stuff indeed!

But, what does that look like? And how can we help each other to find and sustain simple steps towards humanity at work, at home and in relationships? I believe this is an intentional journey!

Take few moments wherever you are. Take a few deep breaths, slower and deeper than normal. Just stay with that for a while – one of the most human things you can do is to breathe properly.

 

Reflect for a moment

Think about a situation the past week where you experienced your own humanness. A vibrant conversation, a run outside, laughter with friends, meaningful work, an empathic response from a colleague or loved one, a hug or a moment of care…and stay with that experience for the moment. Don’t just think about it – re-experience it for a while.

How is this reminding you of what you need to cultivate and protect or be aware of? How do you want to bring back humanity to your life? Think simple and practical – a breathing exercise before a difficult task, asking somebody how they are, taking more time for you or noticing beauty and share it?

May you experience the gift of being human!

At the end of 2017 my wife and I went away for a breakaway weekend in the mountains. When we arrived we unexpectedly lost our phone signal. Suddenly no service! My first impulse was to find the highest point possible and I started climbing the closest hill – I had to make my way up a very steep hill, through bushes where it was really impossible to continue, but initially I tried. After almost falling a few times, losing a shoe, lots of bruises and scratches, still without signal, I turned back.

For the first day I found myself constantly thinking about messages that I should have sent. Being Saturday, I normally follow football scores, which I couldn’t do…leaving me quite irritated. I realised that the possibility to check or search anything immediately really made me impatient. With a smartphone close to you all the time, we are used to getting it all, immediately aren’t we? This is feeding a culture of instant gratification.

Again I had a choice – the rest of the weekend I decided to not give in to this impulse and just to let it go – I felt liberated and present. Calmly present to myself, my wife and the beautiful surroundings, I chose to rather focus on my own inner impulses and experiences. I realised that it is such a blessing that we as human beings can never be offline to our own consciousness. God is always there, always available. But, I am afraid, the constant, instant impulses takes us away from that and from ourselves.

Your creative response?
Maybe, once in a while, try to not give in to the impulse of instant gratification and ask yourself how important it really is. Intentionally wait a few minutes before you check your phone.

The impatience which feeds this impulse, often takes me away to really be online, and soulfully present, in the current moment and within myself.

May 2018 be a year where you intentionally disconnect from the “instant” in order to soulfully connect to what matters most in your life!

Go slow,