Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the weeks of August 12 & 19, 2013

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Exellence at Work

(Spirituality at Work: Part 2)

The path of excellence calls us to perform at the very highest standard possible for us. When our performance reaches objective excellence, or perfection, the result is not only outwardly stunning but also inwardly transformative. That peak expands our possibilities and undermines our self-limiting assumptions. When we know that we can do something not just well, but perfectly, it changes us. When our practice of excellence starts bringing results that show glimmers of perfection, it draws us forward with a great attraction.

One could say that true perfection, of any kind, is the exclusive domain of the Divine. And that any perfection in this world of space and time is but a shadow of the true perfection. If this is the case, then being drawn toward perfection, whether in our own actions or to those of others, is the same as being drawn toward the Divine. Easily recognizable instances can be found, for example, in some of the great music and art of world, music and art that seem Divinely inspired. So our pursuit of excellence is not essentially separate from our pursuit of the Divine. The path of excellence is the path of the spirit. And the same qualities serve both: attention, insight, conscience, responsibility, energy, effort, discipline, and personal standards.

What better place is there to practice excellence than where so many of us spend so much of our time: at our place of work? Some people love or at least respect their jobs enough to give their utmost effort toward excellence. Such people are always looking for ways to improve, always alert to what they are doing at work, how they are doing it, and how well they are doing it. Such people develop high levels of expertise and skill while also, and not incidentally, developing their being.

Some people dislike their jobs, feel stuck in them, and dread going to work. Many others, perhaps most, have a more neutral attitude toward their jobs, neither hating nor loving them, just doing them as a necessity. And we may oscillate among all the different attitudes about our job, from loving it and giving it our all, to hating it and giving the minimum we can get away with. In all these cases, the practice of excellence offers us an opportunity to rise above our attitudes and desires, to bring more to our work. By doing so, we receive more. Suddenly we can become interested in our work, interested in how we can make more of it, bring more to it.

One way we grow both in abilities and being is through challenges. In the path of excellence we challenge ourselves to perform our job with ever greater quality and/or quantity, with what the job needs from us, and if possible with more than it demands from us. Even if our efforts are not recognized by our clients, customers, coworkers, or supervisors, we persist regardless, we do it for ourselves and for those who benefit from our work.

No overarching formula can be given for excellence, because it depends on the details of each situation. Thus it calls on our experience, knowledge, skills, and creativity, on our willingness to look to see what is needed, to see what is possible, and to do what it takes to improve. Continuous improvement is a widely-adopted business management practice. And we would do well to adopt and adapt that concept to our own personal efforts at work.

In the end, the results of our work go to those who benefit from it directly, to our company or organization, to our own finances and, just as importantly, to our being. Again, the closer we come to perfection, to closer we come to the Divine.

For this week, practice excellence in your work.

See also article on excellence here.


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