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The Spirituality of Work and Leadership

Posted by Felix Assivo on
The Spirituality of Work and Leadership

This week’s article is provided by Paul Gibbons, academic advisor and author.   The article is an excerpt from his new book The Spirituality of Work and Leadership: Finding Meaning, Joy, and Purpose in What You Do.   It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Finding Meaning, Joy, and Purpose in What You Do that aired on Tuesday, September 7th.


“Most people’s jobs are too small for their spirits.” ~Studs Terkel, from Working

People spend nearly half their waking lives at work, perhaps 100,000 hours in a lifetime. In the previous chapter, we argued that the time one spends working should be joyfully and purposefully spent, contributions should be a source of meaning and fulfillment, and social interactions should be a significant source of community and connectedness.

In this chapter, we start with questions about vocation and mindset: Which matters more: what you do, or how you do it? Can you bring a spiritual mindset, say of gratitude or service, to any job? How much responsibility for the worker’s experience lies with the worker, and how much with the employer?


“Discovering vocation does not mean scrambling toward some prize just beyond my reach but accepting the treasure of true self I already possess.” ~ Father Thomas Merton

One workplace spirituality “killer-app” is vocation choice, sometimes called fulfilling your purpose in life, finding your calling, or “following your bliss.” This subject has birthed hundreds of books. A few, such as Connections between Spirit and Work in Career Development, are academic in approach. Others are more inspirational and practical, such as True Work, The Purpose Driven Life, The Leaders Way, The Work We Were Born To Do, and The Art of Work.

The above books rightly say that the feeling of being called may be immensely powerful. For the called, it may provide motivation to make drastic life changes. Calling provides a narrative for work that can help you soar in the good times and transcend the bad times. It helps leaders lead with greater passion and charisma—indeed, many leadership development programs help leaders create a powerful career narrative about their highs and lows and the learning from those that has shaped who they are. In my programs, leaders used to explore this by creating a timeline of life and leadership experiences that had shaped their vision and values and that shape what is unique about them and what they stand for as a leader.

There is a question of whether calling comes from “out there,” the Universe, a Higher Power, God, or whether (as existentialists would have it) there is no purpose “out there,” but we are liberated to choose for ourselves. Different strokes.

For the existentialists or people without a deity, this freedom of choice, of accepting responsibility for those choices, and of doing the work of creating meaning can be hard. In the words of Jean-Paul Sartre, “Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does. It is up to you to give [life] a meaning.”

When reflecting upon your calling, using one of the many guides available, you want first to focus on the spiritual, the meaning derived from work, and on intrinsic satisfaction rather than on skills, interests, job opportunities, financial rewards, and traditional views of success. Secular concerns press upon us all the time, so we give priority to the less urgent but more important. There are various tools career coaches use to help with this: narratives, dreams, symbols, poetry, visualization, and insights from the past.

Once you’ve used these “spiritual tools,” you balance spiritual with secular concerns.

One simple tool, the Ikigai (“reason to live” in Japanese), helps readers think through the tension between the secular and spiritual worlds53.

Diagram V-1: The Ikigai career purpose tool

To use this tool, spend about an hour thinking about each of the petals and the tensions between them. Ask yourself which petal is most or least fulfilling in your current role. (I have formalized this process with a questionnaire and in workshops, but the do-it-yourself approach works well if you dedicate the time to it.)

Where some books on calling are wrong

“If you’re having work problems, I feel bad for you son. I got 99 problems but meaning ain’t one.” ~99 PROBLEMS, JAY-Z , paraphrase

Coaches and self-help gurus sometimes draw a distinction between societal and parental influences, the tangible pressures of living (paying rent), and what the “inner-self” or “real you” or “true self” is called to do.

This distinction is false and unhelpful because there is no “you” bereft of any historical or cultural influences – your likes and dislikes, talents and shortfalls, personality, and values were shaped from an early age by dozens of influences. You can’t untangle the threads and find a “pure you” in there. Humans have many scripts running – you just get to choose which you pay attention to. You also get to choose to set some influences aside and give more weight to others.

We gain information about the world of work as we mature.  Sometimes I advise young people that early jobs are as much about finding out what you dislike as what you like. Choosing a career is always a balancing act of dozens of factors including some fairly prosaic geographical ones such as where you prefer to live, where your spouse prefers to live, where the schools are good, where parents, friends, and relatives live, as well as all the different factors covered by the Ikigai.

Another faulty assumption of many spiritually oriented career counselors and coaches is that the practical matters of earning a living, developing skills, and finding a job will “unfold” once finding a calling unlocks the passion and commitment that lie within you. I don’t think this is helpful or true. There is a certain kind of spirituality, usually New Age, that holds that once you find your calling and put your career intentions “out there,” the Universe will provide a living.

Well, as they say in the Middle East, “…trust Allah but tether your camel.” Even though the Universe is on your team, put the hard work in. Circumstances, opportunity, luck, the economic environment, and your job-hunting skills will play a part in the realization of your calling. Adults need to balance passion and practicalities in the world of work – and (again) need to balance secular and spiritual concerns. (There is a 12-Step expression: “God does the steerin’, I do the rowin.’” For Humanists, it might be, “the purpose I’ve created does the steerin’, and I do the rowin.’”)

Another faulty assumption of some spiritual approaches to calling is that finding your calling and doing it is necessarily a source of great joy. Maybe. Life stories of great saints suggest that not everyone who is “called” finds it easy. It sometimes demands great change and sacrifice. You might be called to earn a quarter of what you do now. Or are you ready to uproot your family? Are you ready to go back to school? Do you want to be called to sacrifice? Do organizations want their workers to be called? Typically, in the 21st century, we want the “goodies” from calling or vocation without the sacrifice.

Coaching people out the door

“They attain perfection when they find joy in their work.” ~The Bhagavad Gita

Finally, coaches focus on worker self-actualization for (or so they should even if they are performance coaching), but many times when I’ve coached a mid-career executive on career matters (paid for by the company), they decide to go self-actualize somewhere else. When my firm ran a leadership development program for a few dozen senior investment bankers (partners in a big firm), we talked about choice, self-expression, joy, balance, work-family, and goal setting. Five of our initial group of 12 were gone within a year (retired, began independent consulting, or moved to another firm).

In the long run, empowering self-actualization that leads to someone quitting may benefit the business, creating an opening for someone whose passions may be more aligned. (After all, you should prefer employees who are passionate about being there.) The employee’s departure increases the amount of big-picture happiness in the world—you’ve done a good thing. In the short run, though, it looks like financial folly—investing in executive coaching to watch your employees leave and then incurring the cost of losing and rehiring a worker.

The challenge for businesses is how to improve their recruiting and interviewing processes to better identify those who are truly called to work for them. How can organizations best hone and express their mission so prospective employees can discern whether they should be working there?

There is a bigger challenge we get to later which is how businesses can they make sure their insides live up to the glossy outsides of recruitment pitches.


“…you are someone who has a particular passion or a particular personal philosophy, and you’re able to turn work into an instrument of realizing the deeper meaning in pursuing your personal philosophy or passion.” ~Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO

Satya is talking about what I call the “spiritual fit” how well one’s purpose and values fit with the specific mission of our employer.  However, a courtship might produce a fit and result in two people deciding to marry but working on the fit does not stop there. Even if you find a job in the Ikigai sweet spot – that is:

  • Work that the world needs,
  • Work we are passionate about,
  • Work that tests us and uses our skills,
  • Work that remunerates us well.

… the “marriage” demands work on both sides. For firms, the fit isn’t just about hiring workers who fit, it is about helping new workers onboard.

Back in the day, even at my blue-chip former employers, the boss “onboarded” new hires, thus: “there is your desk, the bathroom is down the hall, and the coffee machine a bit further.” That is it. There was zero effort to help new hires fit – to help them make sense of the values of their new firm, and how their skills might contribute to their passion and purpose. Our connection to purpose, if it happened, was left to chance.

In the 1990s, PwC offered new employees a whole day onboarding! That whole day was then seen as indulgent by some but would seem ridiculously short to today’s HR professionals – and today PwC’s process is six months long. Leading firms take onboarding very seriously: Google also devotes six months to it, kicking off with an intensive two-week immersion into “being Googly” (the culture) but also the structure and strategy of the business and the architecture of the platform.

Hiring and onboarding help with internal fit. One could recommend companies look more deeply into values and purpose at the recruitment stage, but as values questions become more personal, they may veer into off-limits territory or may be potentially discriminatory.  Fits won’t be perfect or permanent – some employees don’t know what job they want until they see it – and at 25, you ain’t seen much. Some jobs look juicy from the outside but don’t feel right once you are in them. (And sometimes, as the song says, “you don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone”.)

Choosing the right profession and the right company to work for can be a long journey. You have to constantly reassess your priorities, values, fit with your employer, and whether the path you are on is one you value and admire. Mormon, Steven Covey said cleverly, “there is no use racing up the ladder of success if it is leaning against the wrong wall.”

However, I recommend strongly against daily or even monthly questioning of values and fit and purpose in life. I think that is a recipe for misery. Rumination, experts say, is among the unhealthiest psychological habits. The question “Is this the right job or profession for me” is one to be taken seriously, but only periodically – semi-annually, or annually. Once you commit, you stop asking the question for another six or twelve months – when it pops into your head, you set it aside.

Having said that, you should put your values, fit, and purpose to work in daily life – questioning yourself hard on whether you are living up to them. That is the spiritual challenge – not to get too comfortable with yourself, but also having a depth of self-compassion for your stumbles. Few of us can walk in and say “take this job and shove it” without consequences. Daily, you recommit to where you are and to the sorts of attitudes that make you happier and make you a nicer person to work with.

This, clearly, speaks to the necessity of making time for annual (or so) reflection upon your purpose and values – again not ruminating daily, but when the time that you set aside comes, engaging in purposeful life-design (or re-design.) Once, you commit to change, it will still take a long while to enact your new vision or profession. When I coached mid- or late-career people who desired or were approaching a major career transition, I used to advise that such transitions take a year to envision, plan, and execute. If you are retiring from a 40-year career, I suggest (unless your only goal is the hammock) that it takes five years to build up a portfolio of stimulating, enriching service and commercial opportunities.

A final source of misery is people who suffer at work, decide to change, and who fail to take action. They wake up each day with “I need to change jobs” for months or years without acting – getting a little unhappier and a weakening sense of their own power and agency. Usually, they need support in planning and being held accountable for taking the baby steps to realize the change.

This discussion has mostly been about fitting the job to yourself, that is finding work that aligns with your purpose and calling. However, there is another spiritual job alluded to above, fitting yourself to the job with the right mindset.


“For works do not sanctify us, but we should sanctify the works.” ~Meister Eckhart

While vocation choice concerns itself with “doing the work you love,” the alternative is “loving the work you do.” In other words, how do you “get your head right”? Which work attitudes and beliefs affect your experience of work? For example, if work is approached as a place of service or giving, rather than a place of being served or getting, would one enjoy it more? Was St. Francis right in saying, “It is better to understand than to be understood, to comfort than to be comforted, to love than to be loved, better to give than to receive”? Is the secret of happiness not doing what one likes, but liking what one does? At one spiritual retreat I spent time with a Benedictine Abbott and even though 25 years ago, I remember his questions: How is life treating you, Paul? More to the point though, how are you treating life? 

Meaning making

“Do not indulge in dreams of having what you have not, but reckon up the chief of the blessings you do possess, and then thankfully remember how you would crave for them if they were not yours.” ~Marcus Aurelius

Ancient spiritual texts and modern writers on humanism suggest that taking personal responsibility for meaning “creates the work reality.” Viktor Frankl was able to find meaning in a concentration camp. In the yogic spiritual tradition, the concept of Karma Yoga suggests that working with love and enthusiasm can turn a chore into a spiritually enriching experience. The Buddhist spiritual path (bodhisattva) recommends going forth for the welfare and benefit of the world to prevent suffering. In Hinduism, the concept of right livelihood affects one’s karma, one’s inheritance in the next life. Christian monks maintained “laborare est orare” (to work is to pray). These views suggest that enjoyment of work is “an inside job”—if you can bring the right attitude and actions to work, you can transform your experience of it.

Recall the parable of the stonecutters. The third stonecutter’s narrative was: “I’m creating a magnificent cathedral.” We get to decide which cathedrals we are building by creating our own narratives.  This illustrates, again, that meaning isn’t “out there” but is created; it’s created in this case by—the why of our work. Sadly, the prevalent and contrary view in society is that what happens determines what we feel and do: “He made me furious” or, “Work is killing me.” If one’s mood is determined by context, then it will ebb and flow with the fortunes of life. If the actions of others determine one’s response, then there is no freedom, only reaction.  Many spiritual orientations make you more responsible for your feelings and actions:

  • “Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.” (Marcus Aurelius)
  • “In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves.  The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.” (Eleanor Roosevelt)
  • “Look at the word ‘responsibility’ – “response-ability” – the ability to choose your response.” (Steven Covey)
  • “Man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked.” (Viktor Frankl)
  • “Do not let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace.” (HH the Dalai Lama)

Their essential message is that our perception of the world, and our reaction to it, are a matter of choice. And right attitudes and right actions manifest themselves not only in an improved internal experience, but also in relationships with others, including our relationship to the world. This deeper connection to self, others, and world was part of our definition of spirituality, the practical face of the spiritual journey.

What do “real people” say gives their working life meaning. In a survey from US consulting firm BetterUp55 conducted in 2018, today’s workers report that they find most meaning:

  • “… where I’m trying to make other people’s lives better…”
  • “…when I’m working to help others grow and see their potential…”
  • “…when I am able to push my abilities to the utmost is the most fulfilling…”
  • “…when my work revolves around helping others especially the disadvantaged and needy…”

This leads to a paradoxical situation. On one hand, meaning happens between our ears—and ultimately, only we can be responsible for the meaning we create. On the other hand, the employer, culture, work environment, job, and leadership can make it hard or easy to find meaning in a given job. Does the idea of personal responsibility for meaning-making give employers a free pass? Is it all “on you?”  Of course not.

Here we find one of the most incisive criticisms of the whole idea of spirituality and business – the idea that finding meaning and purpose at work can be found if the individual works hard enough at it no matter how oppressive the circumstances may be.

We saw that meaning and purpose can be found in the humblest of jobs: humans can reshape their narratives to a great extent. But, leaving all the spiritual heavy lifting to workers isn’t right—for them to enjoy a shitty job, they would have to become spiritual giants, master meaning-makers. There is also something deeply cynical about expecting someone who earns ten times less than you to get with the program and find the right attitude to make “loading 16 tons”56 meaningful.

The attitude of gratitude

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

One attitude, though not by any means a uniquely spiritual one, is gratitude.57 Gratitude means being thankful, not just for specifics, as when a colleague does you a kindness, but generally, toward life, toward the people in it, and for circumstances (even those that seem harsh). As the saying goes, “Happiness isn’t getting what you want; it is wanting what you got.”

But like most valuable things in life, the attitude of gratitude takes practice and cultivation. The general “attitude of gratitude” creates an other- rather than self-orientation—an appreciation for what one has, rather than entitlement and grasping for what one lacks. As British author G.K. Chesterton said, “I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”

Another way that the gratitude mindset is expressed is a “get to” rather than “have to” orientation. “Have to” people see a world with little choice, one whether they comply (grudgingly) with demands put upon them. “Get to” people may be doing the same thing, but with a different narrative—I “get to” do what I’m doing. This simple shift in narrative can be transformative.

Nietzsche, of course, had an even deeper take on gratitude. He suggested that true gratitude was being willing to live your life, just as it has happened, over and over again in eternal recurrence. (One of his signature ideas.) Only then, said he, when you accept all that has been, and are willing to live as such over and over, will peace and gratitude be found. “And then you will find every pain and every pleasure, every friend and every enemy, every hope and every error, every blade of grass and every ray of sunshine once more, and the whole fabric of things which make up your life.”58

One of the biggest obstacles to having attitudes at work (and in life) that create a better experience is the intrusion of negative thoughts. Everybody “knows” they should be grateful, everybody “knows” that they are the author of their own experience – but that “knowledge” can be of little use when the sniveling shipwreck of a human being in the next cubicle tries to take credit for your work, or you have to work past 9PM for the third time this week.

Everybody has thoughts that are not in the interest of the thinker. Everybody has impulses to do the wrong thing. Most of us ruminate a downward spiral of worry, fantasy, and resentment at least sometimes. How do we overcome negative thoughts, sometimes called the “itty bitty shitty committee” in your head? Let’s look at mindfulness.

53 You can find the ikigai and dozens of tools on purpose and calling in Reboot Your Career, a workbook that I co-authored with career coaching specialist Tim Ragan in 2016.

54 From poppy one-hit wonder group Bananarama and Fun Boy Three in the 1980s. Try to get that earworm out of your head now.

55 www.betterup.com

56 “You load 16 tons, and whaddya get? Another day older and deeper in debt. St. Peter don’t you call me, ‘cos I can’t go. I owe my soul to the company store.” (Folk song from 1947.)

57 Sometimes spiritual writers use the terms spirituality as if “all that good stuff” – humility, integrity, gratitude, passion, and conscience were uniquely spiritual. You can arrive at those attitudes through Humanistic psychology or many other ways. (No psychologist would take exception to the mentioned goodies.) We should not pretend that only spirituality, or only our own version of it is the only path to desirable human qualities – although our position is that the word “umbrellas” inner and outer work and includes those virtues and an ethical stance on life..

58 From The Gay Science, published in 1882.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

About the Authors
Paul Gibbons keynotes on five continents on the future of business, particularly on humanizing business, culture change, ethics, and the future of work. He is currently an academic advisor to Deloitte’s Human Capital practice – creating the future of change management He has authored five books, most prominently The Science of Successful Organizational Change and Impact, and he runs the popular philosophy podcast, Think Bigger Think Better. Those books are category best-sellers on Amazon in organizational change, decision-making, and leadership. After eight years as a consultant at PwC, Gibbons founded Future Considerations, a consulting firm that advises major corporations, including Shell, BP, Barclays, and HSBC, on leadership, strategy, and culture change. From 2015 to 2018, he was an adjunct professor of business ethics at the University of Denver. Paul is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a hyperpolyglot, has been named a “top-20 culture guru,” and one of the UK’s top two CEO “super coaches” by CEO magazine. He is a member of the American Philosophical Association, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science and lives in the Denver area with his two sons and enjoys competing internationally at mindsports such as poker, bridge, MOBA, and chess.

Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash

Creativity from the Inside Out

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Creativity from the Inside Out

Creativity from the Inside Out


My blog helps people better their lives by releasing their fears and blossoming into who they are meant to be. Regular features include my tip of the week, my Silver Lining story and a response from Marian Stephens, who is using the information in my radio show, Uplift Your Life: Nourishment of the Spirit, to change her life. Her first email to me impressed me so much that I invited her to be a regular part of my blog. I hope we inspire you to change your life. All my previous blogs are on my website, paulajoyce.com and the first post with Marian’ Story went up last week. Be sure to check it out and follow Marian’s progress.


Dr. Paula’s Tip for the Week


This week my radio show guest, Cathy Wild, and I explore the many different ways creativity facilitates personal growth. My tip for the week is a sure-fire way to jumpstart a new and exciting phase of connecting with your higher self.


Your tip for the week from my e-book, 33 Tips for Self-Empowerment. I wrote this book because when you are self-empowered, you are connected to your limitless higher self, your soul, your intuition, your gut feelings, your guidance. Our limitless higher self is the wiser part of ourselves, the part that knows the Truth of who we are. Our logical mind is so loud, however, that it often drowns out the whisper that is trying to guide us on our authentic path. As you learn to listen to the still small voice within, you will begin to feel at peace. Because your limitless higher self has direct access to the Divine, it is through this connection that miracles occur, like unexpected healing, healthy relationships, peace and wealth. This connection gives you an inner foundation of love, which eliminates fear. It is through this love that you can heal the planet and yourself and make the shift into the 4th dimension. Our higher self helps us find safety and even save our own life and others’ lives. We must train ourselves to trust our higher self and never go against it. Don’t talk yourself out of something that feels right to you or let what others say or think influence what you do. Please use these tips. My Tip for this week is in honor of our topic today: Discover Your Creativity: You can reconnect with your Higher Self by discovering what form of creativity gives you joy. Explore writing, dance, music and art. Create just for your own pleasure, self-expression and self-discovery. If you are concerned about people criticizing you, keep your creative explorations to yourself. Our creative expression doesn’t have to be public. It can be just for ourselves, a way of discovering more about what we think and feel, a way of letting go of hidden pain and fears and a way of unleashing buried parts of ourselves. The act of unbridled, free creation is an act of courage. We may be putting ourselves out there in a way that goes beyond the limits of what we’ve been taught is acceptable, yet it may be the very thing we need to do to become fully ourselves. When exploring your creativity, you are exploring your true self and it’s OK to be protective. In fact, you may need to be protective initially to feel safe. In time, you want to be able to feel safe being who you are anywhere, but it doesn’t happen all at once or you can scare yourself back into hiding. Be patient with yourself and have compassion for the parts of you that are still reluctant or fearful. That self-compassion will ultimately help all of who you are feel safe being seen.

Dr. Paula’s Silver Lining Story


2018 is set to be the year of hidden truths coming to light. Some of it is already emerging regarding abuse of women. Utilizing the creative process will guarantee women’s voices will be heard loud and clear as is illustrated in my silver lining moment.

At the 60th annual Grammy awards on Sunday, the president of the recording Academy, Neil Portnow, said in a backstage comment: “women who have the creativity in their hearts and souls, who want to be musicians, who want to be engineers, producers, and want to be part of the industry and the executive level” need to “step up.” The silver lining is that his prejudicial statement has brought out the truth about the difficulty women have in getting equal treatment in the music industry. The numbers say it all: only 22.4% of the artists are women, only 12.3% of songwriters are women and only 2% of producers are women, only one woman received an award during the televised portion of the Grammys and only 16.8% of musicians played on popular radio are women. Katy Perry said, “I’m proud of all the women making incredible art in the face of continual resistance.” For Portnow to attack women’s creativity was outrageous. When there is institutionalized discrimination, we all have an obligation to call it out and work for change. The paradox was the big moment Kesha had performing her song Praying, which was about her experience of sexual and emotional abuse by her music producer. It was a triumphant moment, and hopefully ushering in a new era for the music industry. Women are leading the charge for change, and I hope they use their anger to add more fuel to their already substantial creative juices and show the world what we are all capable of when we are allowed to shine.

Marian Stephens’ Story


I am a mother of four boys ages 2 to 17 and a stepmom to a twelve-year-old boy. In the last three months, I’ve gotten married, blended a family, moved into a new apartment, been trying to find a rhythm, worked on finding my motherly voice in this family of men, began discovering and pursuing creative outlets with my husband, and attempted to figure life out again at age forty-two. Not that I had it figured out at thirty-two or even twenty-two, but I do know I could answer the questions posed in today’s episode with a lot less effort when I was younger. Taking care of a family and often putting their needs first makes knowing who I am, what I want, and that those things matter not always feel particularly important. I think in order to live my truth, I need to ask these questions first.


Five years ago I had the realization that I was barely living my life, much less living it authentically, and everything changed. I discovered after listening to this episode that I have been in the process of finding my creativity for the past five years. Listeners were asked how they would like to express themselves creatively and my answer is easy – writing! After listening, I realize that writing is part of my purpose, not just a fun activity. Now I need to set aside wondering if I have talent or a great work inside of me and let the joy of expressing my heart and mind with a keyboard be my vehicle for personal growth that overshadows my fear of sounding silly.


I think viewing building and living a life that I love as my most important creation can make the process so much more enjoyable. Knowing its importance might give me the courage to make hard choices and stay on the path I am choosing when it feels overwhelming.


This week I began a new job and found myself overwhelmed with the new responsibility of being organized, prioritizing, and setting boundaries with my children necessary to correctly complete the tasks I was given. I have been half-heartedly homeschooling my eight-year-old son and it felt newly impossible this week. I have contemplated putting him into school since I moved because homeschooling is putting a strain on my relationship with everyone in my house. It became clear this week that I am not able to be fully invested in homeschooling, writing, or being successful at the unique work opportunity in front of me. The questions that Dr. Paula and Cathy gave listeners to ask themselves when creating suddenly made the right choice for me crystal clear. This new position allows me to work from home, work with inspirational people, and write. If I continue to fear allowing my son to experience public school, I am going to jeopardize something that puts me squarely on the path to creating a fulfilling life for my family. So, my son begins school next week!



For more shows on creativity, please listen to:


A Journey Into the Vast and Beautiful World of Creativity featuring Yelizaveta Nersesova

Making the Conversation Real: Looking through the eyes of Courage, Beauty and Wisdom featuring David Whyte

Adult Coloring Books for Fun, Relaxation and Healing featuring David Bookbinder




To learn more about my unique process that removes hidden blockages, unleashes your creativity and helps you solve your most challenging problems, click here to sign up for my newsletter and receive the chapter as my gift: http://paulajoyce.com/wpsite/newsletter-sign-up/



Giving Gratitude for Food: Today and Beyond!

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Giving Gratitude for Food: Today and Beyond!


Thanksgiving presents an opportunity to express our gratitude for food, even if to say ‘Yum!’ or give kudos to the cook. But do we do that every day? Or each time we eat? I invite you to begin a practice of giving gratitude for food no matter where you are now. That’s where I’m at, too. 😉

It’s hard to give gratitude for something that we don’t appreciate. In modern society, food comes too easily to us to really honor its origin. We can grab it off a supermarket shelf or from the deli counter, we can dine in our cars – even purchasing our meal from a drive through, we can grab a bite from a vending machine, we can place an order online and have it delivered to our door. The list seems to go on and on. I appreciate convenience. But as a society, it’s time to re-educate ourselves about what it takes to bring food to the table. With all the fast food, processed food, and modified food of the last 5o years, or so, convenience has caused us to lose our perspective and appreciation for what is real in regard to food. 

Another reason we may overlook giving gratitude for food is that we lose sight of the obvious: that is, we don’t fully acknowledge how important food is in our lives. That beyond the fundamental aspect of supporting our existence, our relationship with food is, arguably, our most intimate relationship of all. We all have relationships – with our partners, our children, our co-workers, our neighbors, our phones, and so on, but have you ever really considered that you are in a relationship with food? Unlike our relationships with people, food is something that we interact with each and every day of our entire life. There are few, if any, people with whom we do that. Children grow and leave the house, we move to another state or country, and we change jobs, thus changing the landscape of whom we interact with on a daily basis. But food is something that is constantly with us, throughout the journey of our lives. Further, food is something that we literally take into ourselves and that literally becomes a part of us. Now, that’s intimate! We all have a relationship with food. It’s a question of how much we are to understand that relationship and to honor it. I think it’s fair to say that many people have a broken relationship with food, leading to the consequence of addiction and obsession, epidemics of chronic disease like overweight, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer, autoimmune disorders, and so on. Even our good intentions around making homemade food can dissolve into a series of complaint and resentment, huffs and gruff, leaving us with little energy to express sincere gratitude, let alone enjoy our food. It’s time to explore more in regard to the sacredness of food and giving gratitude for it. 

In order to give gratitude for food, we must first recognize the reason(s) for which we are grateful for food. The reason(s) behind our gratitude may change from one eating episode to another.

Reasons to be Grateful for Food

  • It tastes good.
  • It nourishes our body.
  • It’s beautiful.
  • It’s fun to grow.
  • It helps us to heal.
  • It gives us energy to do our work.
  • It delights us.
  • It warms me up on a cold winter’s day.
  • It’s fun to prepare.
  • It provides a way for us to connect with our family and friends.

Ways to Express Gratitude for Food

There are many ways to give thanks for our food. Any sincere expression of gratitude will serve the same purpose, which is to slow us down enough to connect with the sacred. This alone brings tremendous benefits to our body, mind, and spirit. Given that most of us eat several times or are each day, food can serve as one of the most powerful reminders to connect with the divine.

Most cultures and religions have a way to express thanks for what is about to be eaten. Holding a deep connection to the earth, Native Americans honor the exchange of life in regard to food. They ask the Spirit that dwells in the living food – whether animal or plant – for permission to take its life. They then give thanks to the Spirit for its willingness to sacrifice its own life for their benefit and sometimes make an offering of corn or tobacco, for example, in compensation for this sacrifice. Such an act acknowledges that something has been given and received on both sides.

One of the most common ways to express gratitude is by saying grace, which is a specific form of ritual. One may choose to speak freely from the heart – even when dining alone – or n behalf of a group. One may also recite or read a specific prayer from a spiritual tradition or from literature, such as Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet. If you are not comfortable saying a prayer out loud, you can practice gratitude through silence. If the expressions sincere, the offering will be effective. Silence doesn’t just happen; it has to be allowed. It requires us to make a conscious decision not only to refrain from speech, but also to withdraw from activities that fill our minds with noise, such as watching television, listening to the radio, or reading a book. Even in prayer, which people most often do silently, we can be so busy voicing our praise and requests to the divine that we often don’t allow for the space to receive the gifts and messages that the universe intends for us. As with saying grace, a moment of silence can be shared by a group of people or practiced alone. The important thing is that this moment be used to consciously appreciate the food about to be eaten.

Where are you in the process of giving gratitude for food? In what ways are you beginning to offer gratitude for food? Let us know! Let’s keep the conversation growing. We’re in this relationship for life, after all!

“If the only prayer you say in your whole life is ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.” Meister Eckhart


A Registered Dietitian with degrees in Public Health Nutrition and Culture & Creation Spirituality, Lisa is uniquely qualified to help us understand, heal, and nourish our relationship with food.

To explore more about giving gratitude for food, listen to this episode of SacredExplorationhttps://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/103760/nourishing-healthy-attitudes-about-food

To purchase The Sacred Art of Eating: Healing Our Relationship with Food: https://www.amazon.com/Sacred-Art-Eating-Healing-Relationship/dp/0988726602/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1511457125&sr=8-1&keywords=sacred+art+of+eating






Uncover, Recover, and Discover the Many Parts of YOU!

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Uncover, Recover, and Discover the Many Parts of YOU!

‘A child who is loved has many names.’

This is an old proverb that I enjoy expanding upon from a shamanic perspective. In shamanism, we work to bring the many parts of ourself into wholeness. In order to do that, it is necessary to identify those parts first. This is not always easy to do because so many parts of ourself can be lost, forgotten, hidden, denied, and so on, due to cultural, social, and familial influences that keep them in the dark. So how can we bring those aspects into the light where they can be healed and integrated into the you that longs for integrity of body, mind, and spirit?

I’d like to suggest this simple exercise as a first step.

  1. Find a blank piece of paper and pen.
  2. Set a timer for five minutes.
  3. Write down all the words you can think of that identify you.
    1. Do not to judge the words that come to mind. If the words show up, write it down.
    2. These words can be words that identified you in the past, but do not seem relevant now.
    3. Sometimes there may be two different words for the same thing. For example, in my case, I could write down that I am a ‘Registered Dietitian’ as well as a ‘Nutritionist.’

Here is a list of words that identify me:

Mother           Dancer       Shamanic Soul Coach     Nutritionist      Child    Sister     Cousin     Mate     Teacher

Registered Dietitian    Teacher     Radio Show Host     Homemaker      Graduate   Lisa      Business Owner

Friend       Domestic Goddess     Dreamer      Divorce´    Lover      Volunteer     American     Mentor   Homeschool Mom

Daughter           Student     Priestess      Medicine Woman       Shaman     Poet        Lisa Tremont Ota    Woman

Native American     Environmentalist     Naturalist       Gardener     Public Health Nutritionist    Author


This is a great start! This helps me to recognize that I am not just any one of these parts. When we identify with just one or a limited number of parts, we tend to cut off other parts of ourselves. Eventhough I am no longer a ‘child,’ my inner child will arise from time to time and want to play or cry or be dependent, for example. Through shamanic soul coaching, we can allow the child to co-exist with the ‘woman.’ A woman who can allow herself to run through the woods with the freedom of a child will be in greater harmony with herself and others than the woman who restrains herself because she doesn’t want to look like a child.

You may also be aware of the tendency to want exactly what we forbid ourselves. Who hasn’t wanted a piece of cake (or other scrumptious treat) as soon as the commitment to give up sugar is made, for example? The part of us that doesn’t want to give up treats begins to cry out and make itself known because it feels denied and forgotten. If we can embrace that part, we may be more likely to design an eating practice that is more realistic. Here’s another example:  When my two boys were young, I found parts of myself raging battle. Part of me wanted to be a ‘homeschool mom,’ providing the freedom and flexibility to explore the world in ways that they wouldn’t have if they attended public school. But then my ‘career woman’ would rise up in dramatic ways to make her presence known. “What about me?” she would cry (sometimes quite literally)! “You graduated with a master’s degree in public health nutrition and now you’re going to leave me by the wayside?” she would shout. Shamanism helps us to integrate these parts. I ended up homeschooling my boys for six years while finding a home-based business that I could incorporate into the flexible lifestyle that homeschooling demanded. Now, my children are both in college, leaving me with an empty nest and the resources from that home-based business to continue to expand my influence.

A shamanic soul coaching session can help you to more fully uncover, discover, and recover the many parts of yourself and to integrate them. Below are links to my own practice as well as that of Francesca Gentillé, my esteemed guest on SacredExploration (November 15, 2017).

Lisa Tremont Ota


Francesca Gentillé:


Twitter: https://twitter.com/Francescadiva

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/francesca.gentille ​

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/TheFrancescaGentille​​




Becoming Truly Free By Irina Benedict

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Becoming Truly Free By Irina Benedict

I am so excited to present you with a special project I have created just for YOU!  It is a FREE 4-part video series with brand new content! Learn the art of being assertive, how to undo past programming, find inner peach and ultimately be empowered in business so you can THRIVE!  Click below to gain access now!

More Here!

Free Webinar – Becoming Truly Free By Irina Benedict

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Free Webinar – Becoming Truly Free By Irina Benedict

Dear Free Spirit,

In order for us to thrive we got to have the freedom to grow, right?

Think about this in nature, a tree grows bigger if it has space. What makes it hard for us to grow is that we are constrained by all the “shoulds” and “don’ts” we got programmed with while we grew up. It is our most important job to unravel them so we can become all that we can be. We want to become truly free to follow our purpose and thrive.

If this resonates with you, join us on Friday March 31, 2017 at Time 11:00 am ET for a 90 minutes free Webinar. To attend live or to get the recording afterwards register on this link.

In this free Webinar I’ll share with you some of my story from an emotionally, physically and sexually abused kid to finding my path in life and my purpose and living the life of my dreams  We will do some meditation and healing to shift some of the heavy energies. You will have a transformation.

This is what you will learn by attending the webinar:

1) How to let go of the need to prove yourself.

2) How to release the feeling of unworthiness.

3) How to let go of the responsibilities that are not yours and regain our joy and innocence.

4) How to Transcend your fears and feel safe and protected.

5) How to guide yourself by spiritual lows like: love, peace, purpose.

I am looking forward to share with you what I have learned on my journey from pain to purpose and in my years of coaching many others to do the same so you too can become truly free and thrive.

Have your pen and paper ready to take notes, have your questions ready and we will do great work together.

Blessings to you,

Irina Benedict BSc. PEng.
Business Strategist and Spiritual Teacher

More Here!


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Fitness coach and personal trainer Maria DiGiuseppe describes her book, “Fit and Faithful,” as “a personal testimony of faith with professional fitness and nutrition guidance.” Identifying Christianity as a major influence in her life, she shares scriptures that provide universal direction for good health, regardless of your cultural affiliations.

Maria suggests, “we need the same principles, commitment and endurance with regard to our physical body as we do to our spiritual body in order to have good health and peace of mind. Living your life honestly and being mindful of how you influence others is one of the greatest contributions you can make.” She further advises:

“Repentance or metanoia means, “to turn away from.” What modifications do you need to make to create a healthier lifestyle, such as “turning away” from overeating, excessive drinking, and a lack of discipline? Make these changes and write them down. Practically speaking, we can replace old habits with new ones. For example, instead of watching TV at night for two hours, take a one-hour walk around the neighborhood.  How many days a week can you commit to exercising? Make a pledge to yourself to stick to that plan. Beyond changing habits, commitment is about staying on the healthy lifestyle path! When you are steadfast, even if you lose the weight you want, or are in the best shape of your life, in the face of an upsetting experience or difficult challenge you’ll persevere! There is not a quitting option. If you’re going through a stressful event, the progress you’ve already made may help you to handle it better.

“If your life has taken a turn and you have to define a new sense of “normal,” that’s okay. Over time, you may be able to do something that you couldn’t do last year. If someone suggests that something you want to do is out of your reach, that you’re too old, or that it’s too late to accomplish your goals, keep in mind: If you can see it and plan it, you can achieve it!

While we live in a world in which so much is permissible, for some even one glass of wine is not a good idea. Addiction doesn’t mean that you do it daily or can’t live without it. It means that you’re doing something that causes you to suffer adverse consequences and yet you continue to do it. I believe this applies to relationships too. If a relationship only causes pain and stress, it’s probably best to put boundaries in place or get away from it all together. Try not to let the world dictate how you choose to live.

Romans 12:2 guides, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Once you change your patterns and think differently about things, you will start becoming the best version of yourself and live an amazing life!  Pray for direction.”

Health is also being able to handle stress. Since some things are out of your control, I’m an advocate of trusting in something bigger than what you can understand. I believed the Bible had all the answers and knew that one day I would get around to reading it, but didn’t realize that I shouldn’t take time for granted. Define your standard today while you have the opportunity. Delineate what you believe. A strong foundation sets norms for how you live spiritually and with regard to good health. As the standard for Christians, the bible offers hope and answers to life’s questions. Matthew 7:7 says, “ask and you will receive, seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be opened to you.”  

I think people can get caught in a vicious cycle. When one bad situation occurs after another, you might feel that your life is spiraling out of control. This is why I think it’s so important to have faith. It’s the umbrella over everything else. Faith according to Hebrews 11:1 is being certain of what you hope for, and confident of what you cannot see. Look for ways no matter how small, to pick yourself up. Suffering without seeking support can lead to disability and depression. Doctors may not have the answers but there may be other resources available to you, such as counseling or family support.  Don’t give up! Eventually you will see the light that is shining in the dark. Psalm 119:105 states: “your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”  

Maria suggests that following the standard of a “higher power” makes for a disciplined life, much like how athletes train to be their best. She offers the guidance of Corinthians 9:24: “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.”

As you construct a foundation through which you can uphold your commitment, a mindset of perseverance, and discipline, Maria urges: “When you lack motivation, you can rely on the purpose that God gives you for your life, “for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose (Philippians 2:13).”

Listen to my conversation with Maria on “Turn the Page” to learn about the four concepts that she sees as essential for physical and spiritual health.

Packaging Your Services is the Loving Way to go for you and your clients By Irina Benedict

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Packaging Your Services is the Loving Way to go for you and your clients By Irina Benedict

Are you selling your services as one-off sessions or are you packaging your services?

Packaging in general means to put more things together. For example at the store and they put all sorts of things in a basket and that is a package, you buy them all together.  When you are a service provider, you can put together a few of your one-on-one sessions, a few of your written or audio resources, access to you via e-mail or phone, etc. and sell this as a unit.

1) Creating packages is the loving way to go for You

For you to thrive in business, you have to have a way to make good money and to not experience the roller coaster of feast and famine.

When you sell many little things, it is tiring and less profitable. When you sell fewer things at a higher price point, then the setup, the billing, the client care becomes easier so you find more time in your day, and as a result you find more peace.

Remember, this is your business; you want to set it up in a way that works for you. If you are ok, if you are nurtured, if you are in your flow, then your clients will be taken care of.  But if you’re tired, stressed, if you’re worried, then how are your clients going to be well supported? So you want to set up your business in a way that it’s aligned with who you are and how you want to live your life.

Do not be shy, make your business suit your style and do not just follow what everyone else is doing.  Packaging your services will give you freedom and peace.

2) Creating packages is the loving way to go for your Clients

Having a pre-defined package is a great way to fully support your clients. If you give them a one-off session, that can solve an immediate problem, but it does not address the core issue.  If I give someone only one coaching call, how am I going to help them?  I’m going to help them relieve some pressure in the moment, but I’m not helping them solve the problem. So giving them a one-off is like giving them a headache pill. It just takes the symptom away, but it doesn’t resolve the cause.

With a package you help clients commit to working on their goal or problem for a few months. This gives them time to create new habits.  If we are left to our own devices…

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Release the Fears of Receiving Money for Your Service By Irina Benedict

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Release the Fears of Receiving Money for Your Service By Irina Benedict

For people to buy your service, they need to be aware of it, have a positive impression of it, and be convinced that they need it or want it. This is why we do marketing. Then when a person becomes interested in your service, you got to be able to make the sale. This means to discuss what is it that you sell and receive money.

Why do we fear Sales and how to turn this around?

Our first caller said the her fear comes from the fact that she is not selling something tangible, she said it would be easier if she would sell something she knitted, or something she cooked. So true! Selling a service seems harder than selling a product because it’s as if you have to sell “you”. When you combine this with not feeling worthy and deserving money, selling becomes almost impossible.

The solution is to sell the results of our service, to focus on the benefits the client gets from your service. If you need to talk about you, about why you are suited for the work, use your clients’ testimonials and words to make this more grounded and not sound as if you toot your own horn (which by the way is acceptable if you do it from a place of self-confidence and love).

What if We Feel Unworthy?

Receiving money from someone it’s a big one. This comes to our deepest fear that we are unworthy. Then there is the fear of not being able to deliver and fear that our client might not find value.

We feel the person who …click here to read the entire blog

First Steps with Your Purposeful Business By Irina Benedict

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First Steps with Your Purposeful Business By Irina Benedict

1) You don’t have a business unless you have clients

Please, please, please don’t spend years tweaking your website. You don’t have a business because you have a business name, a business card or website. You have a business because someone pays for your service. Just go out and focus on getting two, three clients to start. At the beginning you don’t need a lot of clients, you cannot even handle a lot of clients.
To get these first clients send an e-mail and talk to people about your new services and ask that they recommend someone. Please remember that not everyone is your client even if you think your services could help them. Let’s say you work with parents and you help them understand their kids better. Not all parents are your clients. For someone to become a potential client they should express a concern, an issue or a desire. I give a cool example of a mistake I made when I was new in business on the radio show, be sure to listen to this episode.

2) It’s OK to give free services as long as you do it strategically

Allowing people to sample your services it a good way to introduce them to what you do, because then maybe they buy more or recommend you to others.
This is a good way to build your confidence if you are a beginner in your new trade. Be strategic about giving free sessions. Offer your services to few people who match your ideal client profile in exchange for testimonials. Be sure that it is not an undeserving feeling of not accepting money why you offer the free service instead of being paid.

I recommend giving about 3 free sessions, then start charging about half of what an experienced professional in your area charges. Do 5 sessions like this then increase prices. This is not an exact science, you can offer free sessions to influential people who value your business and may promote you in the future.

3) Patience and discipline are your best friends as you take those first steps

Build your business patiently because you are in it for the long run. You are …

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