Build a meaningful life and do work that matters | Why spirituality needs to be reconnected to work.

Only one in three people are actively engaged and happy at work according to research done by Gallup International. The others apathetic, they don't care about their work and are 'just doing their jobs' and one in five is actively disengaged, that is intentionally trying to damage the company they work for. On top of that many workplaces are toxic and in need of desperate overall. Burnout is costing economies billions every year.

“More people die Monday morning at 9am than any other time… people would rather die than go to work.” Jon Gordon

Research also shows that the new workforce is demanding more than just a paycheck, they want meaning. They want to work for a place that does meaningful work and is engaged in making the world a better place.

"Move fast and break things", Zuckerberg's famous motto is now a thing of the past. Customers are demanding virtuous, responsible organisations that are not only for profit but also for good.

How we build meaning into business is the question every leader should be asking.

CEO's across the globe have discovered the power of infusing spiritual practices, principles and values into the core of their multi-billion dollar businesses in order to create impactful organisations and meaningful workplaces.

"Spirituality is the biggest trend in business in the 21st century." -Megatrends

Spiritual principles dig into the core of who we are as human beings. Principles such as compassion, kindness, and recognising each other as valuable and unique function as powerful cultural drivers in a business.

'Ora et Labora', Latin for prayer and work has been the secret of multi-million dollar businesses run from Monasteries.

"The counterintuitive secret that the monks and the world’s greatest salespeople have discovered is that the more successfully we forget our selfish motivations, the more successful we become.” August Turak in 'The Business Secrets of Trappist Monks

Universal spiritual principles and practices can give any business and each one who works something to be, something to want, and something to do.


Something to be | faith

'Something to be' has to do with identity. It is a foundation, a place for you to start. A large part of spirituality is finding out who you are and whom you were created to be. Beautiful words like vocation, purpose, and calling are located here.

It is a long and difficult journey to discover your identity, but an extremely powerful one. It is where we discover that we are unique in our gifts and talents, that we are all creative beings, and that we are worthy of love and in fact loved.

The powerful thing about this realisation is that when we finally see it and accept it, we also see it and cherish it in others. It is this very journey that gave humankind Universal Human Rights, Universities, and Hospitals because we see the same value in each human being that we have discovered in ourselves. This is, after all, what the greeting Namaste means, the soul in me honours the soul in you, or even the divine in me honours the divine in you.

What would a business look like where everyone knew this, knew their identity and that they belong, are enough, and worthy of love? What would a place like that design and bring to the world?


Something to want | hope

Easily the most difficult question in life, both for ourselves and our businesses.

Want to you really want?

Our desire is our bus ticket home, my spiritual director always tells me. The word desire actually means, ‘of the stars’, stars we need to navigate life by.

The thing with building spirituality into a workplace, and our lives, is that it cannot be added on as another tool in the tool-box to cope with life and we cannot use it as a patch just to increase our bottom line. This is a recipe for disaster. These are powerful universal laws like the practices, also drawn from spirituality, in the classic 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Used with true intent they will catapult you forward, used carelessly or for selfish motives, they will crush you. It is like holding on to the back of a truck when you are on a skateboard, great if you get it right, horrible if you mess it up, but the truck will keep on moving forward.. with or without you.

What do you want and what does your business want?

Profit, why?

Success, why?

The greater good, why?

Embedding spiritual values is about internalizing them and then embodying them. It is doing the deep hard work to figure out what do you want the future to truly be and whom youwant to be in that future.


Something to do | love

Lastly, spirituality invites us into action, once we have realised who we are, and we have something we want, the only thing left is something to do to get there.

"Work is loved made visible" Kahlil Gibran

And that something is to love, as trite as that sounds it is the truth. Human beings and organisations do not exist in isolation. We act as though we do, when our lives are good, everything is good, when our profit is up everything is good.

But it is not, we are all connected in an infinite complex system of relationships, and in spirituality relationships matter. Actually, that is one of the many definitions of spirituality, it is the connections between us, it lives in the in-between spaces.

It invites us to navigate those connections with kindness, compassion, understanding and yes


Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn CEO, is known for running the company with compassionate leadership, spiritual values and principles are ingrained in the organisation. One of LinkedIn’s 6 values is, ‘relationship matters’, because it does, we do not exist in a vacuum and our actions influence the entire web.


Spirituality is an ancient meaning-making mechanism and, I believe, a need that exists on one level or another in every human being.

The millions of people that have gone before us over thousands of years left us great gifts, values, principles and practices that can help us create the world we want, and become the people we are meant to be.

Engaging spirituality in the workplace can foster engagement, well-being, and just good plain old joy.

Get skin in the game, start the work.


This article is a summary of my keynote, Ora et Labora