18 – Spirituality in the Workplace with Mitch Gray

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Listen to the Podcast

Ty Belknap 

Welcome to this edition of the Simple Christians podcast. Today I have a special guest, Mitch Gray. He is the host of the Mitch Gray Show podcast, and author of the book, How to Hire and Keep Great People. He uses his background as a pastor to help people understand how to keep spirituality in their business. And that’s what he’s going to talk to us about today.

Mitch, thank you for being on the show.

Mitch Gray 

Thanks, Ty. Good to see you again.

Ty Belknap 

Great to see you too. Talking about spirituality in the marketplace. How important do you think that really is in today’s world?

Mitch Gray 

Great question. I think first of all, people get really scared oftentimes of the word spirituality or spiritual, especially when it comes to business. We have these sectors of people: You can read philosophers or religious leaders or books by spiritual writers, and they’re the sector that’s talking about how much of a role spirituality plays for all of us, regardless of beliefs.

But then you read business and leadership books, and no one wants to talk about the role that spirituality plays in business. It’s like you have these two sets of people where one side is saying, well, regardless of your religious perspective, spirituality always plays a role. Then you have the other side that doesn’t want to touch that with a 10-foot pole.

And I get it, because oftentimes, people equate spirituality with religion, when in actuality, spirituality and religion can work hand in hand. In fact, for a lot of people they do. But spirituality and religion in and of themselves are separate and apart.

What I like to say is, you can go to church (synagogue, whatever you go to every week) and not be a spiritual person. Conversely, you could potentially be a very spiritual person, and maybe not be as involved in an organized religion.

I want to lay that foundation because when we talk about spirituality in the workplace, we’re not addressing religious beliefs; we’re addressing how people live, move, and have their being; how they function, how they make decisions. Those are very spiritual things.

If someone doesn’t use the word spirituality to describe that, that’s okay. But they do become very inner being type scenarios and we walk through those all the time in the marketplace. So that’s why to me, it is incredibly important to unwrap the idea of the role spirituality plays in the workplace and in leadership.

Ty Belknap 

So, it almost sounds to me like what you’re saying is: Spirituality in the in the marketplace is really just how Christians are supposed to live in the first place.

Mitch Gray 

We use our spirituality throughout all of our life, not just on Sundays. And if you don’t mind, I’m going to broaden that statement a little bit. I would actually state that that’s the way humans in general are called to, to live and interact with one another.

Let’s talk about the idealistic, unicorn in the sky, life of humanity. That life of humanity should mean that we serve one another, we love one another, we look out for the best in one another. And we really do all we can to be humans bettering the lives of other people.

That’s the “pie in the sky” light of what humanity at its best looks like. And so, to your statement, since this podcast is specifically about Christians and Christianity, your statement would be very true that it is more than just what happens on Sunday or Wednesday. It’s actually what happens every day of your life.

And the challenge comes into play. That somewhere along the line when religion became very industrialized, we all of a sudden started separating.

It’s the old adage of when we were kids growing up, or at least how I grew up, I don’t know some of your listeners may not have. I grew up where we wore our Sunday best to church. And just that adage alone paints the picture of a fakeness.

We have to show up with our best foot forward and I get the meaning of it, but at the same time, it does portray this idea that there’s something separate and apart. We’re supposed to act different, we’re supposed to be better on Sundays than we are Mondays.

But that’s impossible and unhealthy; it just doesn’t work. And it’s not really the life that humanity is called to live in.

So, there could be a lot of confusion there. I do you think that’s changing. In the church world you’ve seen over the last 15 years, community churches are growing, and you’ve seen more interesting platforms of church.

 I think that old adage that we grew up with in the 70s and 80s has changed a little bit, but there still can be a disconnect.

I used to say when I was pastoring that you can take the greatest leaders in the business world, put them on a church board, and they lose their ever-loving mind. All of a sudden, they lose all their common sense. And they lose all the things that they use Monday through Friday to build a good business. They all of a sudden forget it when it comes to Sunday. And I think that’s kind of a thought that we’re discussing.

Ty Belknap 

Okay, so talking about spirituality in the marketplace, especially in today’s world with everything that’s going on. How do you show spirituality when you have so many different religions?

I guess is the big thing. You might have somebody that that is of the nation of Islam versus a Christian versus an atheist. So how do you how do you show that spirituality without having people think that you’re trying to push religion on them?

Mitch Gray 

Yeah, that that is a golden question, and I love that question because it points toward a word that I use often when talking about leadership, and that is, as leaders we have to learn to lead from our humanity, not from our opinions.

And what I mean by that is when you walk into a room, are you seeing people simply as people?

Or are you seeing people as you’re the authoritarian figure that is there to guide the ship? And I think the reason that picture is important is because, especially in religious circles, if people aren’t careful, it’s a little bit easy to get on a soapbox. You know that challenge when you do that, that’s why I differentiate religion and spirituality, because the challenge you deal with religiously, we have to remember that everyone’s religion, if they’re a religious person, that is their eternal truth, whether they’re Christian or Buddhist, or Nation of Islam, or even atheistic,

If they have a religious belief of any level, that is their kind of eternal truth perception. If you walk in with an authoritarian perspective, and you walk with that authoritarian power, you’re now losing the ability to connect with people on a human level through love, compassion, patience, kindness, and goodness.

you’re now alleviating all of that because you’re now seeing people as lesser than you.

And without getting into the weeds of discussing all of that, we have to be very careful that we don’t push our perspective onto others in a way that now makes us lose the value of leadership.

That’s what I mean by bleeding from our humanity. It has little to nothing to do with religion. We can sit in a room with 10 different people from 10 different religious perspectives. When we’re dealing with spirituality, we’re now dealing with each other on a human level, an emotional level, and the intellectual level, a mental level.

Those are all elements of spirituality that we can find common ground on without ever even swimming in the waters of religiosity. And that’s how a leader has to look at it.

Let’s say I’m going to hire Ty, who is going to be a great employee, who is a Christian. I’m going to hire Suzy, who’s a great employee who might be an atheist. Those are all just labels that we’ve conceived in a way so that we can better understand where people are coming from, the more when it comes to the workplace. And even when it comes to life in general.

Again, we go back to the “pie in the sky” vision of humanity and that pie in the sky is that we all love one another, care for one another, treat each other with respect and honor. And from a Christianity and a Christian viewpoint, isn’t that really the epitome of being someone who follows the teachings of Jesus, to serve others to love others to do good for others?

And those aren’t limited by religious beliefs, those are actually motivated by being fully human, being fully alive and being filled with love, compassion, mercy, justice, grace.

And those have zero to do with religion, they have to do with being human. And being the people that we’re really meant to be.

Ty Belknap 

Thanks for that. In your book, How to Hire and Keep Great People, you talk about spirituality a little bit, especially in the beginning. And one of the things that you talked about kind of got me because it’s almost a “No-No” nowadays. And I know that we’re separating spirituality and religion, but it seems like almost a no-no to even think about that in the workplace. But you mentioned the spirituality already exists within the organization. Are you equating that to almost like, how people were talking about culture these days in a company?

Mitch Gray 

Yes, culture is a spiritual thing, right? I love relating culture, because this is where so as a white American who grew up in the south, we didn’t have a lot of culture, right? And I have a lot of friends who have, they have a lot more culture within their heritage than I do. And I learned a lot about culture from when I was in middle school.

We moved to northern New Mexico, in the middle of the Navajo reservation. And I was fortunate enough as a teenager to learn about what culture really looks like from the Navajo indigenous people. And what I learned was, culture is really a part of people’s DNA.

Again, it’s how they live, move and have their existence. And if that’s not spirituality, then quite frankly, I’m not sure what is because that’s just so deeply ingrained in the aura and the energy of people.

When you apply that same adage to business, to the marketplace, you’re really dealing with spiritual issues.

And the easy connection that I like to make is: We’ve all been on that phone call, customer service call, all we need is our phone fixed, but we get terrible customer service. And that energy in that experience, if we’re not careful, it just ruins our day.

That is a spiritual experience. Conversely, we get on the call, we have a great customer experience, they give us great customer service, they help us fix our phone or not. But we get off the call and we go, Wow, that person was really good at their job.

We feel good, we actually feel better, even if they didn’t fix our problem. We leave that engagement and that encounter feeling better about the day. That is a very spiritual interaction between two humans, one human understanding how to treat someone else and another human respecting how they were treated.

When you apply that simple example to the marketplace, to the job, environment, really what we’re talking about is customer service becomes a spiritual issue. Developing people becomes a spiritual issue, hiring people based on alignment becomes a spiritual issue. Learning to interview people through energy and presence, not just words, becomes a spiritual issue.

When leaders can all of a sudden begin to apply those perceptions to everything they do, it ups the level of that company’s presence, ability and energy and, and it opens the door to even greater success in ways that they may not have measured before.

Ty Belknap 

Fantastic. It almost sounds like every single aspect of business can be improved by using spirituality, at least in some respects. Do you think spirituality can help a business grow?

Mitch Gray 

100%. Let’s use the language we’ve been using through this conversation. Spirituality is going to help me become a more self-aware leader. Spirituality is going to help me equip my people better; it is going to help me connect with not only my employees, but my customers and clients at a deeper level.

There’s data that shows that over and over again. But the greater connection, greater experience, the greater leader I can be, the more opportunity for growth I have.

And so absolutely 100%. If a leader can come in and begin exploring the ideas of spirituality, and again, I want to reiterate, there may be leaders out there that love to burn incense, and they may want to eat and have a holy person come in and pray on their business. Great, do it. If that helps you. awesome. There may be leaders out there that are going, “Whoa, Mitch, this is a little too kind of strange.”

That’s okay. Just simply begin with saying thank you to your employees, simply begin with being more engaging with your people. Those are acts of spirituality and humanity at its deepest level. And they can’t help but improve your success.

Ty Belknap 

So you start with just saying thank you. That keeps it simple. That works very well with this podcast. Right. Mitch, I want to thank you so much for being on the show. Is there any last things that you can think of that you’d like anybody to know about?

Mitch Gray 

We have a new website coming. It’ll actually be live the week that we’re recording this episode. It’s called www.recruitgreatpeople.com. And it gives all the elements of the book. It gives some worksheets for free, worksheets that people can print off and use for the development of their team and of themselves. Of course, go to the book anywhere you order books, How to Hire and Keep Great People. And if someone wants to stay engaged on a weekly basis, we also have a podcast, the Mitch Gray Show. You’ve been on there that we talk about, leadership tips and helping people grow.

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