Fully Human at Work: 2022

The ninth offering of Fully Human at Work begins on April 22, 2022. You are invited.

Whatever you’re currently doing to earn money in order to provide food, shelter, clothing, healthcare, indoor plumbing, heat, air conditioning, electricity, internet, phone service, transportation, and other necessities and luxuries for yourself and those you care for, consider for a moment that what you do to make money 1) may or may not have anything to do with your deepest purpose and place in the world, and 2) it may be an essential delivery system for, but is not in fact, your deepest purpose and place. This is not to say that what you’re doing to earn money is not good or important work, or that your employer (including you, if you’re self-employed) is in some way wrong or bad. It is to say that a delivery system is different from what it delivers—especially when it comes to delivering one’s true purpose.

Eco-depth psychologist Bill Plotkin writes that everything in the natural world—this oak tree, that Labrador retriever, this blue jay, that poison ivy, and every mountain, rattlesnake, dolphin, cow, river, rose, potato, salmon, grain of rice, stone, spider, and tick—has its place and purpose. Plotkin uses the word Soul to refer to a person’s or thing’s unique place in the world, and he uses the word in an ecological, rather than psychological or spiritual context. That is, he considers Soul to be “a person or thing’s unique ecological niche in the Earth community.”1

Despite what we do with, in, and to it, we humans are part of the natural world. If each of us has—if you have—a unique ecological niche, wouldn’t you want to know what it is? Rather than plugging your gifts and talents into the socket of someone else’s prefigured task and job description in order to make a living, might it be worthwhile to explore your unique place in the larger scheme of things and perhaps fully live into the one wild and precious life that you can truly call your own?2 Most of us, at least at the outset, find a job to make a living. Sometimes, if we’re willing to explore a bit and stay open, we begin to get glimpses of our unique place and the gifts we carry. And sometimes we may even get to make our living through the delivery of our unique gifts to the world. It is absolutely possible and admirable to live a good life working in a job that allows us to care for ourselves and our loved ones—without any sense of our unique place in the world. It is also possible and admirable to live into our unique place in the world in a way that allows us to care for ourselves and our loved ones.

Prior to the 2020 onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, much had been written and said about employee (lack of) engagement, mental health and the workplace,3 and, beyond just compensation, the importance of autonomy, self-management, mastery, wholeness, and a sense of purpose on the job.4 Less devastating than the illness and death inherent in the pandemic—but highly relevant to many lives—are the post-pandemic shifts in how and where some of us work and the shifts in how some of us view work. These shifts challenge varied assumptions that that many of us had (or that had us) about work and life. The pandemic exposed and continues to expose both the fragility and the resilience of humans and the systems we create. Because millions of workers have resigned their positions ostensibly due to what they learned about themselves and the possibilities for work, the media have named the impact of these shifts the “Great Resignation.” But you know this already.

Whether the Great Resignation was on its way and the pandemic simply accelerated it, or whether the pandemic played a more causative role, millions of people are shifting how they view work. And life.

In July 2019, my friend and colleague Kent Frazier and I engaged a series of conversations about mental illness, mental health, and mental fitness in the workplace. Fully Human at Work, a 12-hour, 6-session online program emerged and we offered it for the first time in January 2020. Our ninth offering begins on April 22, 2022. Details and registration information are available at: https://fullyhumanatwork.com/programs.

Fully Human at Work invites you to explore what it means to be fully human at work—and in life. This exploration is grounded in your unique experience of the relationships among:

  • Recognizing, owning, and developing your perspective—or worldview—including the “cultural givens” from your earliest years
  • Getting clear on how your intentions emerge through perspective and how they influence your words and behaviors
  • Doing more good than harm in your spoken and written communication
  • Doing more good than harm through your behavior
  • Choosing and engaging your livelihood in ways that honor your gifts and the world
  • Attending to the quality of the effort you put forth in your endeavors
  • Becoming increasingly mindful of your moment-to-moment existence
  • Navigating the multiple demands for your attention and focus5

The program emphasizes the importance of practice—in terms of what we consciously or unconsciously practice every day due to worldview and habit, and in terms of what we are willing to commit to intentionally practicing for our own development as we move forward with our lives.

Kent and I would love to have you join us on April 22: https://fullyhumanatwork.com/programs.

Comments from past participants: https://fullyhumanatwork.com/reviews-2

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1Bill Plotkin, The Journey of Soul Initiation, (New World Library, 2021), 15, 378, 382-83.

2one wild and precious life that you can truly call your own emerges from the intersection of language from two poets: Mary Oliver’s “one wild and precious life” (“The Summer Day” in New and Selected Poems, Beacon, 1992, p. 94) and David Whyte’s “There is only one life / you can call your own” (“All the True Vows” in The House of Belonging, Many Rivers, 1997, p. 24).

3Regarding mental health and the workplace, among many other sources, see:

Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2019/12/burnout-is-about-your-workplace-not-your-people

World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/depression

MIT Sloan Management Review: https://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/why-every-leader-needs-to-worry-about-toxic-culture/

4For self-management, wholeness, evolutionary purpose, see Frederick Laloux, Reinventing Organizations, (Nelson Parker, 2014), 56+; for autonomy, mastery, and purpose, see Daniel Pink, Drive, (Riverhead/Penguin, 2009), 68-145; and Pink’s TED talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrkrvAUbU9Y

5These eight foundational elements are based on the Buddhist Eightfold Path. We do not teach Buddhism in the program, nor are we Buddhists (aspiring Bodhisattvas, perhaps). The Eightfold Path has been around for two millennia-plus, and it holds up.