My Most Personal Post

In deep thoughtA few weeks ago, I began a four-part series on various aspects that play an important role in the way we lead our life, and the way we run our business.

Writing about the first three was relatively easy: our health, our state of mind, and the stuff we use to make a living.

Today’s topic is something I approach with trepidation. For one, it’s very delicate and personal. Secondly, some commentators believe it has no place in a discussion about work.

I respectfully disagree.

EVERYDAY ETHICS

For me, spirituality has a clear role in how I conduct myself, and how I conduct business. It permeates everything I do, and it often guides me as to what not to do. It’s a moral compass.

Notice that I do not use the word faith in this context. I avoid it religiously. To me, spirituality is less divisive of a term. It’s more elusive and inclusive.

Whereas faith and religion are often associated with dogmatic, hierarchical institutions, spirituality is first and foremost a subjective individual experience. I cannot and will not define it for you. What I can do, is tell you what it means to me.

When I use the word spirituality, I am referring to a connection to something greater than myself. This can be a physical as well as a metaphysical connection. Spirituality tells me that there’s more to life than the naked eye can observe, and more than science can explain. 

Spirituality helps me answer some very basic but essential (business-related) questions:

  • Why do I do what I do?
  • Why is that important?
  • What am I (ultimately) trying to accomplish?
  • For what (higher) purpose?
  • What will it allow me to do?
  • How does that affect those around me, and the planet? 


Spirituality is linked to motivation and mission. It can provide us with a motive -a reason- that explains and drives why we do what we do. But it’s not as simple and superficial as that. Ultimately, it’s about living a life of meaning and purpose. It’s uniquely personal and universal at the same time. 

INTERCONNECTION

To me, leading a spiritual life acknowledges the fact that we don’t live on an island. Whether we realize it or not, we’re all part of a larger whole. We’re all connected. Our individual choices and actions have the potential to influence other individuals. Right now, and in the future. It’s impossible to know to what extent one simple decision can change the course of many lives, but action-reaction is a dominant force of transformation. 

Not everyone sees it that way, or acts that way. Too often, nations, corporations and individuals act as if there’s no tomorrow, and their behavior has no consequences. We fight one another over faith, scarce resources, and land; we poison the planet to make shareholders happy, and we focus on ourselves because we believe we are at the center of our universe. The here and now is all that matters.

We ignore the bigger picture because we refuse to look further than our own backyard. We choose to focus on what divides us, instead of on our common interests. And in doing so, we lose a vital sense of (global) community and interconnectedness. We may even lose part of our humanity.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

CONSEQUENCES

Being mindful of the consequences of our thoughts and actions, makes for a consequential life.

The Iroquois called it Seven Generation thinking. That’s the idea that decisions should be considered for their impact on the seventh generation to come. This focus on sustainability is philosophical and practical at the same time. It is based on a profound respect for this magnificent speck of stardust in the midst of an infinite universe we get to borrow during our lifetime.

That’s my kind of spirituality!

You may have noticed that I am trying to stay as down to earth as possible when it comes to spirituality. Rather than praying for some magical, mystical experience, I choose to also interpret spirituality as doing things in a certain spirit. That’s where the word inspire comes from. Spiritual people lead inspired lives, and strive to inspire others.

So, in what spirit do I choose to conduct business?

MY PERSONAL APPROACH

Well, I believe I’ve been given (and have developed) certain gifts for which I am eternally grateful. What better way to celebrate those gifts than to share them with the world? That’s one of the reasons I use my voice and my pen for a living.

Here are some other spiritual principles that guide me every day:

I want to be of service, and use my talents to the very best of my ability.

I want to treat clients and colleagues with class, kindness, and respect.

I want to do business in an honest, open, and accountable way.

I want to charge rates that are fair, not only for my benefit, but for the benefit of my entire professional community.

I want my business to be as environmentally friendly as possible.

I am totally committed to keep on learning and growing, and -

I want to assist and inspire others to do the same.

I won’t take on projects that go against my beliefs, e.g. games that glorify gratuitous violence and turn horrifying aggression into so-called entertainment.

I want to make this place a better world.

THE ANSWER WITHIN

Freelancing is not for the faint of heart. At one point in our professional lives we’re all going to be tested. Perhaps we’ll hit a long dry spell. Perhaps we’ll receive some horrible feedback. Maybe we will start doubting ourselves, or we’ll feel professionally isolated and alone. 

Especially during those times, we have to rely on our WHY. If the answer to the question “Why do I do what I do?” isn’t convincing enough, it will be very tempting to give in and give up.

But if, on the other hand, our inner fire is burning with purpose, we’re poised to get back on track, and stumbling blocks can turn into stepping stones. Challenges become learning experiences and opportunities to grow and give.

I believe it is human to crave connection and look for meaning. Otherwise, why are we even here? Why do we even bother?

And should our lives be part of some divine design, I think a life well-lived may very well be measured by the number of meaningful connections we managed to make during our time on earth. Professionally and personally.

If that isn’t spiritual, I don’t know what is!

Paul Strikwerda ©nethervoice

PS Be Sweet. Please retweet!

PPS Next week I will reveal the winners of my “Pick Paul’s Brain”-contest!

About the author

Paul Strikwerda

is a multilingual voice-over professional, coach and writer. His blog has been voted one of the most influential voice-over blogs in the industry. He's an expert contributor to Internet Voice Coach, the Edge Studio, the International Freelancers Academy and recordinghacks.com.

by Paul Strikwerda in Articles, Career, Freelancing

20 Responses to My Most Personal Post

  1. Paul Strikwerda

    That’s a huge compliment, Pierre, and I am very grateful for your words!

  2. Pierre Lafrance

    Just read your post Paul and thought it was very refreshing. Very well written and full of interesting thoughts. You are without a doubt the most inspirational VO talent I have ever met.

  3. Paul Strikwerda

    As a former religious affairs correspondent, and member of the BBC’s religious department, I’ve seen and studied many “organizational structures” myself. Some are very open (minded), and others are very closed. Some are filled with humanity, and others are overtaken by intolerance. The younger generation is moving away from organized religion in favor of a more unstructured way of worship. That’s why most churches and temples find it harder and harder to survive. As a member of one of those communities, I still find comfort in a caring community. Business wise, it’s good for networking too!

  4. Ed Waldorph

    Another thought provoking and inspiring column. Good on ya, Paul. I’m glad you overcame your trepidation.

    I got a chuckle at, to paraphrase, ‘religiously avoiding faith.’

    Acknowledging an agency greater than oneself may be the very definition of humanity, that some may need organizational structure to see it is not necessarily a bad thing. However one finds it or defines it it is sufficient that one does.

    The truth of your words is evident in the results. As always, thank you for sharing.

  5. Paul Strikwerda

    My pleasure, Erik. Thank you so much for reading my blog!

  6. Erik Alexander

    Thank you Paul for another illuminating post.

  7. Paul Strikwerda

    I agree, Don. In my book, mentioning religion is a big No-No. In most cases it is completely irrelevant to our business, unless we’re hoping to land a job for a Christian or Jewish publishing house of audio books and seminars. Even then, who is to say that a non-believer can’t be the better narrator? We’re voice actors, and as such we should be able to handle many roles with utter conviction!

  8. Don Reece

    Oh Paul, how consistently you knock it out of the park! Thank you for – quite successfully – sharing your gifts with the world.

    Interesting, isn’t it, that “religion” is one of the two big topics (along with politics) that are to be avoided in our online business lives. I completely understand the need to not build unnecessary barriers between us and our clients. But any ‘religion – faith – spirituality’ worth having would be at the very core of our identities. You have very effectively shown that, while the particulars don’t need to be expressed or proselytized, a life without that core would be hollow indeed!

  9. Paul Strikwerda

    I wish there would be a like-button for all your responses. Well, I’ll just do it this way, and say how much I appreciate your comments. I didn’t want to come a gross as preachy on the subject of spirituality. Also, I wanted to make sure people from different religious persuasions would feel included. Thank you for responding with warmth and understanding!

  10. Garis Moore

    Loved this Paul. Beautifully stated. And by sharing this heartfelt truth, it inspires me to again examine my own life and actions. Something that sometimes needs a little “review”!

  11. Kevin Scheuller

    As a fellow traveler who meets a different, but similar weekly challenge to express the ineffably sublime, I must applaud your efforts once again, Paul. Excellent, ecumenical post, indeed!

  12. Glad Faith Klassen

    Thank you, Paul. This is what I needed today — and no doubt, many others who will read it. Thanks for sharing your heart. Thanks for inspiring.

  13. Dave Menashe

    I haven’t read every article you’ve written on VO but I’ve read most of them. I can say, without equivocation, that this was one of your best. Thank you, Paul.

  14. Paul Strikwerda

    I did not, Jennifer, but now that you’ve mentioned it I will look it up! Life without humor would be a sad joke, wouldn’t it?

  15. jennifer m dixon

    Thank you Paul. Did you by any chance see and listen to Jim Carrey’s entire commencement speech? Humour is such an important part of life and spirituality, as is trust.and so is it to recognize ego and put it in its place ……
    Thank you again for your personal words of wisdom. Appreciated for the way they provoke thought and action in my own little pond.

  16. Paul Strikwerda

    Thank you guys! It took me four years to finally write about this topic. I’m so glad I did!

  17. Joe J Thomas

    Well said, Paul… we are very much on the same page. Thank you for another thoughtful post. I hope the sentiments here spread…

  18. Kitzie Stern

    Loved this post Paul. Thank you.

  19. Debby Barnes

    Most excellent, Paul. Yes…SPLENDID.

  20. John Florian

    Paul, your courage and honesty in expressing yourself and your beliefs is an inspiring lesson for us all – always! I thoroughly agree with you here and take today’s blog on spirituality as a challenge to stop and explore my own beliefs.

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