The Inspired Organization

The Inspired Organization

“Today, many may ask, “What is my work and what am I building through my labours?” There are few more critical development needs in the modern world than aligning the two and few more useful starting points than The Inspired Organization.”

Dr. Peter Senge – Author of The Fifth Discipline  


“Deeply authentic and straight from the soul, The Inspired Organzation: Spirituality and Energy at Work combines heart and wisdom with practical, useable ideas. It opens enormous possibilities for a new way of being at work.”

Martin Rutte – Co-author, Chicken Soup for the Soul at Work

 The Inspired Organization: Spirituality and Energy at Work is the ultimate guide to creating and building a rich spiritual relationship with your everyday world of work.  It is an exciting, valuable tool to bring forth the richness of your Spirit and to create a meaningful life by expressing your passion, gifts and talents in your work.

The Inspired Organization has the potential to change your life. It opens the door to the creation of a peaceful, sustainable future for all. Whether you are an executive or an entrepeneur, whether you work at home or in a business, government or institution, you can apply the creative, practical ideas presented in this book to express your spirituality and energy at work. 

To see Table of Contents and Excerpt of the Inspired Organization:

Excerpt from The Inspired Organization:

 Chapter 2. The Calling of Spirit

Your work is to discover your work and, then with all your heart to give yourself to it. Buddha Vocation is from the latin word vocare – to call. In each of our hearts and souls there is a calling. The calling is to know your life’s purpose. Only through fulfilling your life’s purpose can you truly come to know yourself and the world in which we live. There is a calling in your soul to be as fully a part of the creative impulse of the planet as you can be. Work that comes as a result of your calling and purpose is the highest and most sacred expression of your soul. In its action, it is the most practical and useful and is for the highest good of all. Every person is here for a sacred purpose and with this sacred purpose comes a sacred vision. To some, consciously realizing life’s purpose is not important. To others, it is important because it provides the meaning of our life and a Source from which to live truthfully and with heart. If you have truly surrendered yourself to be of service to our families, workplaces and the world at large, you will find that the way to fulfilling your life’s sacred purpose is continually unfolding. In order to respond to the unfolding way, you must be fully conscious and aware in each moment.

One of the best models I can think of is a man by the name of Merv Wilkinson, who lives just north of Nanaimo, British Columbia. Merv was honoured for his work in sustainable forestry by winning an award at the 1999 Ethics in Action Awards Dinner in Vancouver, Canada.

I have been privileged enough to spend time with Merv in his forest – Wildwood Tree Farm. Merv can be described as a combination of forest elf, sprite and warrior for justice of trees and forests. He expresses his spirituality through his work – by loving and caring for his forest and by advancing and advocating the principles of sustainability. Merv grew up in his forest and has worked there for over 50 years . He had a challenge convincing others that sustainable forestry is possible so he decided to show that it is by simply doing it.

One of Merv’s greatest contributions is in the field of education. While going on a tour with him through the forest, I could feel the love he has for it, his garden of trees that he tends with the love of a parent and the wonder of a child. He is always discovering and learning new things about the forest. Merv is an observer first and then a doer – only doing when his observations have confirmed that the path he takes adds to the natural cycles of the forest. When I did a walkabout with Merv it was probably the thousandth time or more that he had shown visitors around. But I would not know this listening to Merv’s passion and enthusiasm for telling the story of the forest and his relationship to his living friend.

The forest is both peaceful and vibrant. Stories of bears, cougars and woodpeckers who tend ant farms weave threads of colour through the background of green. Added to that are the concrete indisputable facts of how and why this works spiritually and economically as a business as he respects the cycles of nature. Merv has had 1/3 of his income per year come from the forest over the last 50 years. He employs a miller full-time and the products from his forest are used by over 26 people in services such as boat-building, instrument- building. When he fells a tree it is with the ceremony the tree deserves in tribute for offering its life.

Merv is now in his 80’s and an elder. He is endlessly energetic, working in his forest every day. Merv found his life’s purpose and work as a young man and continues to live it, everyday. To discover our life’s purpose, as the Buddha said is the first step in our real work.

Your life’s purpose is inside of you. It is written in every cell of your body. It is waiting to be called upon. Because it is inside of you it is not even to be discovered or found, it is simply to have the realization of What Is. What Is, is who you are.

You do not require outside means to access our life’s purpose, although you may choose to have one or more people and tools support us in discovering the inner knowledge and wisdom that you have about it. The simple truth about your life’s purpose is that it is calling us to be ourselves in every moment. It calls you to release yourself from the trappings of thoughts and belief systems that you have accepted. Knowing your life’ s purpose is the basis for total inner and outer freedom. When you know your life’s purpose, you have an inner compass. It enables you to set a compass bearing and determine the direction in which you are headed with our lives and work. You might decide to take some interesting sidetrips on our way. Fog might set in and you might be delayed or lose your direction temporarily but knowing your life’s purpose ensures that you will never be completely lost. Knowing your life’s purpose is the basis for having a sacred vision for our lives. When you lose touch with your dreams and visions, you have also lost touch with your purpose, and life becomes meaningless. Visions and the dreams that guide them are the source and substance of a wholly created life and future. You can do anything you envision, if it is also aligned with your life’s purpose. A vision guides us in the present moment on the path of work towards the future. It provides us you with hope, inspiration, aspiration and guidance to see our visions and therefore your life’s purpose fulfilled. Knowing these things also helps you to discern where you place your energy at work. When you know our life’s purpose and your vision and express them, you meet like-minded people who share different parts of your vision. Each person holds an important piece of the community vision for our organizations and the world. If your life’s purpose and vision does not fit with that of the organization then it is time to leave.  You are wasting both your own energy and that of the organization. You know when this is happening because you find yourself in situations and with people with whom you feel little connection.  Your work will be less than fulfilling because you can be so much more.

Knowing your own life’s purpose will help you to choose where you put your energy and resources so that you are most efficient with your energy.   You connect with the people who and the resources with which you  are meant to work. We support others and they support us. Can you imagine an organization of people who have found their life’s purpose, each working in their purpose, their full energy directed towards organizational purpose? If we are willing and determined to find our life’s purpose, we will find it. It was important for me to find my life’s purpose. There were times that I despaired. Even now after realizing what my life’s purpose is, I have many doubts and fears. But, I now have a different strength and inner capacity knowing that my compass bearing and direction have been set. Knowing my life’s purpose acts as a touchstone and a reminder on the days when I have doubt. Everyday, I am witness to at least one miracle of my life’s purpose and the unfolding of my divine vision in the world. 

 Exercises: 1. While reading the following sections of this chapter, reflect on Courtney’s story and how it relates to where you are in your life. 2. Listen to Sarah McLachlan’s song “Sweet Surrender” and reflect on what cold rooms you have left. What cold rooms are in your life that you are either prepared to leave behind or fill with life and warmth.

Know Thyself

The three essential questions we need to ask as we begin our spiritual quest are “Who am I?” and “What is my place in the universe” and “What is my purpose here?” The question of “Who am I?” is paradoxical at best. It seems like such a simple question, such a simple thing to know – after all, haven’t we all lived with ourselves for all of the years of our lives? This question is often a challenge to answer, in part because we are constantly deepening and re-creating ourselves as we live life. The spiritual quest is a path of discovery of the self. The forums where we discover ourselves are in the workplace with our family and in community life, and play. Every interaction, every experience, every moment of every day provides an opportunity for discovering who we really are. Those in the counseling professions say that 90% of their clients are those searching for their own identity. Whether we are in counseling or not, how many of us have felt dissatisfied with our work, have felt that somehow the job doesn’t fit us and that somehow we aren’t using all of our full gifts and talents and our full potential as human beings? Peter Senge describes the “Who am I?” question as “personal mastery”. He says that personal mastery is the “discipline of continually clarifying and deepening our personal vision, of focusing our energies, of developing patience, and of seeing reality objectively. Personal mastery is the learning organization’s spiritual foundation.” At whatever age, in whatever career or job we have chosen, a reasonable goal is to live our lives like a work of art. So you can ask yourself the question: What would I be doing if I were to create my life as a work of art, to create my life as sacred… for me? What is my passion? What do I love to do? After many years of thinking of myself as a biologist, I said, “This job doesn’t quite fit me. I am limiting my own potential by being in it.” I was afraid to leave my job because it was comfortable, because it was status quo. And yet I felt as though there was something wrong. When I first thought about doing spirituality in the workplace as a job or a career, the barrier I raised was…”but how am I going to make a living doing this?” Once I started taking action to do my vocation, synchronistic events followed one after another so that I could be well-paid for my work by doing keynote speeches at conferences and management consulting and corporate coaching in the area of spirituality in the workplace. I have met people who have told me that they fear concentrating on themselves because it might be selfish. Others have said that they fear that if they look at themselves and their lives, they might not like what they see. Our lives are made up of many cycles of mental, emotional, spiritual and physical birth, growth, maturity, death and rebirth. During these cycles, we can choose to focus on ourselves and do some self-exploration or not. However, we cannot be fully of service to yourself and to others if we don’t know who we are. If we don’t like who we are and what our lives looks like, then we have the opportunity to change. The ongoing investigation of the question, ”Who am I in this moment?” keeps life lively and exciting. Life is a continuing process of experience, integration and consolidation of our experiences. We can continually discover and express our natural gifts, abilities and personal values. We can choose work that is aligned with who we have become and who we are becoming in life. We are human and cosmic beings having both a human and cosmic experience of body, mind and spirit at home and at work. By knowing the intricate fabric of who we are, we can appreciate just how special we all are. We each play an important role in the unfolding plan of the universe. Exercises: Spend time by yourself, reflecting and taking stock. Ask questions of yourself. Write an autobiography and organize it thematically. What are the great passions of your life which bring you joy? Write down the Peak experiences of your life. How did you feel when you were experiencing these moments? Write down all of the things that you love to do and all of the things that you don’t. Knowing who you are not is as important as knowing who you are. What things do you not like to do. What kind of environments do you not like being in? What kind of topics do you not like talking about? Ask yourself this question. What are your gifts and talents? Think of the feedback from others that you have received over the years about your gifts and talents. Ask other people what they think your gifts and talents are. Write down or draw, paint, sing or act out your answers. What kind of subjects do you love to talk about? An Awareness that We Have a Life’s Purpose I had a curiosity about my life’s purpose from a very young age. I asked myself and other people what is the meaning and purpose of life? More important, I asked myself what is the meaning and purpose of my life? It matters not when we start asking this question. If we do ask it, then we already have an awareness that we were not randomly placed without aim and direction on this planet. We each have a destiny to fulfill and a labour of love to give to ourselves, family, community, workplace. Often we make the initial selections about our education or job when we are relatively young. Most of us have not asked ourselves the question, “What is my life’s purpose?” Even if we have, we often need to set out on an intentional voyage of self-discovery to learn more about ourselves. If we were lucky, we were encouraged to choose a job or career on the basis of your known interests, skills, abilities and values at the time. Otherwise we may have taken a job just to survive. When we were young, we may have been heavily influenced by parental, societal and peer values. We may have chosen an field of education or a job according to those. Many of us have the ability to do many things. However, work that is personally meaningful is deeply connected to the spirit, to the heart and to the soul. What is meaningful at one time in our lives may not remain meaningful. The choices that we make at age 21 or 22 may no longer be right at 27 or 28. Those that we made at 27 or 28 may no longer be right for at 36 and so on. The other day, I met a 58 year old man who has been doing landscape design for many years. He said that although it was interesting to begin with, it has become a job. He has always dreamed about being a biologist. He even took biology many years ago in university. He asked me whether I thought it was too late for him to become a biologist. I said, “It’s never too late to do what you dream about. Four years from now you are still going to be 62 whether you have done your dreams or not.” The light went on in his eyes. If our work is not personally meaningful to us, if it does not come from our spiritual values, as suggested by Rutte in Maclean’s Magazine ” those values that lie at the core of humanity, that come from our highest, deepest self,” we feel dissatisfied. When our spirit is not being expressed, when it is unfocused and unaligned, our energy is wasted. When this happens in a career or job our spirit is not nourished. There is no growth because there is no energy to feed our spirit. We can pacify ourselves for a while. Perhaps we can rationalize feeling unfulfilled because the pay and great benefits are great or because our workplace is conveniently located. We carry on… but barely. We feel depressed, lethargic and unenergetic about our work and lives. “Is this all there is to life?” we ask ourselves. In extreme cases, we give so much energy to our jobs without getting any back that we eventually experience “burnout”. When we are “burned out” or feel depressed with our work, it is time for change. We enter into a state of transition. It happens cyclically in our lives. When it happens in mid-life, it has been called our mid-life crisis. I prefer to call it mid-life transition. The new “me” can’t emerge until the old “me” dies. It is important to both be in this depression, discomfort, dissatisfaction and feeling of dying. These are all part of a powerful process that will bring us to the next level of spiritual evolution. At present our society and medical system denies that depression is a part of life and labels it as bad and to be drugged. Each case requires personal as well as medical assessment. Mild depression and dissatisfaction, although not comfortable are often the fertile ground for the seeds of rebirth to take hold. They are motivators for transformation. They motivate us to examine and understand the mental models that Senge describes, “the deeply ingrained assumptions, generalizations and images that influence how we understand the world and take action”. We examine them in light of the experiences that we have accumulated. We see whether those mental models are based on truth or false reality. If they are based on truth then they can be kept. But if they are based on outdated information then we must dispose of them in order to expand ourselves to become all that we can be. Often the calling of our life’s purpose emerges at a time in our lives when we are in such a state. A little voice says, “Maybe my life has a purpose.” When we listen closely we find that it is our own voice that has spoken these words. Then, we know that it is time to find our life’s purpose within us.


1. What do you feel? Listen closely to your body, to your emotions, to what God is whispering in your ear, to what the flight of the butterfly or the song of the birds is telling you. Have you awakened to the presence of the Divine in your life? Is your life filled with joy?

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