The workplace can be a great place to test spiritual practice. It also can be one of the most trying because it often pits spiritual
values against material ones, challenging us to strike
A friend of mine with a deep spiritual practice
found himself in a face-off between his job and
doing the right thing from a spiritual perspective.
The company he worked for produced medical
products for kidney dialysis. His mom used similar
products regularly as a dialysis patient, so he knew
firsthand how critical they were.
When his employer started a cost-cutting
program, Adrian’s direct boss decided to reduce
product sterilization time. Adrian researched the
safety issues and discovered that not only could
this change potentially harm patients but also that
it didn’t conform to the law. He calmly took his
concerns to his direct manager.
At the time, this move seemed a risky proposition.
Adrian’s wife was pregnant with their first child—not
the best time to put his job at risk by confronting
his employer. The manager listened, but he changed
nothing. Adrian then met with the company’s owner,
who listened but stuck to the risky sterilization
policies. After some stress and anxiety, Adrian took a
leap of faith and quit his job.
While it’s not uncommon for people to think, This
is business; it’s nothing personal, and split themselves
between work and personal life, Adrian aimed to
align both. We talked about the trials he faced in
weighing his decision to confront management and
the stress created involving money.
Although he’s not Hindu or Buddhist, Adrian used
the word dharma to describe his practice. It’s a word
aligned with “conscience.” Author and management
consultant Jack Hawley defines dharma as “deep,
deep integrity—living by your inner truth.” In his
book, Reawakening the Spirit in Work: The Power
of Dharmic Management (Berrett-Koehler,
1993), he describes dharma as bringing that
inner truth with you to work every day and
“It’s the fusing of spirit, character, human
values, and decency in the workplace and in
life as a whole,” he writes. It basically means
doing the right thing. But the interpretation
of what the right thing is differs according
to individuals, their station in life, and their
Each of us can
make a difference
from wherever we
are right now …