My Most Personal Post

In deep thoughtAs a blogger, I often write about various aspects that play an important role in the way we lead our life, and the way we run our business. Think of things like 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!

About the author

Paul Strikwerda

is a Dutch-English voice-over pro, coach, and writer. His blog is one of the most widely read and influential blogs in the industry. Paul is also the author of "Making Money In Your PJs, Freelancing for voice-overs and other solopreneurs." goo.gl/ihVpMc

by Paul Strikwerda in Articles, Career, Freelancing

45 Responses to My Most Personal Post

  1. Natasha

    My sentiments perfectly articulated.

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    We’re on the same page. Again! One day we will meet. I’m sure of it!

    [Reply]

  2. Howard Ellison

    So well worth a revisit! Among many points, this stood out for me “We are all connnected”. Yes indeed, beyond the visible social surface there’s an undercurrent, and it surfaces at times. For example how was it that my wife fainted when I got an electric shock, 3 miles away? As I fell, the phone rang: “Howard, what have you just done?”. Similar happened, to the minute and with pain, when her sister was rushed in for an operation.

    And, I wonder if others among you notice this: repeatedly, whenever I really focus on building business, such as upgrading demos or a contact plan, more than one client will ring out of the blue with work.

    Your piece makes it clear: we should reflect on what we are putting out – whether it’s overt or leaking through some metaphysical ‘LinkedIn’.

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Thanks for sharing your shocking story, Howard. Everything in the universe is made up of energy and information. When we feel closely connected, we tap into that energy field and receive information. It’s an interesting invisible ripple effect of connecting inner and outer circles.

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    Howard Ellison Reply:

    Oh yes, and with huge implications of course for psychology, sociology, anthropology. One wishes such disciplines would venture out of their silos more often and ‘tune in’.
    Maybe physicists, of all people, are getting closer to the mystery as they burrow into nature and still cannot quite fathom what makes it tick. It’s rather like art of any kind, including vocal performance, or even a marketing campaign: these can turn out well but we can’t quite explain why! Do we really want to? That’s another debate.

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Our observations of certain phenomena are only as accurate as the instruments we use to measure them. This, in turn, affects our interpretations. In essence I believe human beings to be “seekers of meaning,” if only to attempt to explain and justify our existence on this speck of stardust. As far as marketing is concerned, people want to know what works and what doesn’t, so successful campaigns can be replicated and improved.

    Howard Ellison Reply:

    Fair point about marketing, Paul, though that reminds me of Henry Ford who knew half his advertising worked, but didn’t know which half! Measurement has improved since, along with the exploration of meaning: your blog being an example!

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    I think we’ve come a long way since Mr. Ford started advertising his T’s.

  3. Paul Garner

    Well said, as always, Paul. I too must have missed the original post, but I’m glad to have caught it this time.
    Makes me sit back and think. A good time to examine my beliefs. Perhaps the beginning of a new mission statement?!
    Thanks,once again.

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Glad you caught it this time, Paul. It’s one of the reasons I sometimes repost older stories. Some weeks life gets a little too hectic to write a brand new blog. In this case I was observing the High Holidays. You are right, by the way. I am a man on a mission!

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  4. Mary Morgan

    Well written as always. It was amusing to me upon reading this: “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.”
    I love networking and making connections as well as friends. But there are always a couple of people who are so insecure or egotistical that they don’t want to accept connections unless they’re individuals who are famous or in a position to get them more work. I’ve noticed now and then how they’ll accept a random few into their circle, but the rest they seem to treat like cattle. It makes me wonder if they’ve lost their way spiritually or just chose to turn away those they deemed useless in their lives as well as their careers. At the same time, I remember names and I remember their attitudes. Should I end up in a position that’s casting, producing, or directing, those names will be excluded. To me, that’s karma.

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    I know the “What’s in it for me” mentality all too well. To me, those connections don’t fall into the category of “meaningful.” They’re just annoying. And speaking of karma… I believe it has no deadline!

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  5. Rick Lance

    Paul… I must have missed this one in it’s earlier post!
    I love the underlying message here. And the fact that you’re not offending, pointing fingers or being critical of anyone… just thoughtful. And you surely have chosen the right time to repost it. As you so often do, you help put things into perspective. Thanks again.

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    As I was observing Yom Kippur, I thought it would be appropriate to republish a story I wrote a few years ago. It’s wonderful to notice that so many of my readers share my perspective on matters of the spirit. I’m glad I avoided pointing fingers. You know what they say about that… when pointing at someone else, there are always three fingers pointing back a you.

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  6. Debbie Grattan

    I see from the dates on the comments that this was originally posted a few years ago, however it’s one of those messages that is eternal, and shows up to remind us all what is most important. My own personal Paul (my husband and biz partner) and I are completely in agreement with you here, practicing daily, the same kinds of things you so eloquently write about in this article. You are indeed blessed. Thanks for sharing your philosophy and touching others with important ideas each and every day!

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    You’re right, this is a repost that really resonated with me as I was observing Yom Kippur on Wednesday. In the past few years my readership has more than doubled, and as long as the contents is still fresh, I sometimes want my older stories to reach new audiences.

    [Reply]

  7. Art Spencer

    You hit this one out of the park, Paul. Wondered if I’d ever see anyone in our community address this topic. You did so masterfully. This article spoke to me. Thanks much!

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Thank you, Art. I’ve seen members of our community publicly thanking G-d for all the blessings they’ve received, but I don;t know if anyone has ever blogged about it. Blogging guru’s usually advise against making religious or political statements so as not to alienate certain readers. I’ve tried to be inclusive in this post, and so far the reactions have been pleasantly positive.

    [Reply]

  8. Paul Payton

    This column arrived in my inbox again today, and again it is thoughtful, meaningful, necessary and timely, especially considering the political whirlwind of trash-talk and malaise instigated by the current political situation (largely, I believe, instigated by one sub-standard-bearer. But I digress….).

    Once again, your optimism and commitment to “something better” has lifted me out of a funk. Color me grateful.

    I forget the name of the poet who wrote this – it has been made into a wonderful reggae song called “Book of Rules,” but it came to mind as I re-read this:

    Isn’t it strange how princes and kings
    and clowns that caper in sawdust rings
    and common people like you and me
    are the builders of eternity?

    Each is given a bag of tools,
    a shapeless mass and a book of rules;
    and each must build a life of his own –
    stumbling block or steppingstone.

    (If you like the verse, I suggest the best version is the album version from the early 1970s by The Heptones. It’s on YouTube, of course!)

    Keep the wisdom coming, my friend!

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    I think it was R.L.Sharpe who wrote this poem around 1809, Paul. These words are still very relevant today. I’ll have to listen to the reggae version today!

    [Reply]

  9. Howard Ellison

    Beautifully put, Paul, affirmative of the best in humanity. Your posting sat in e-space for a year before I stumbled upon it today, but the wisdom is timeless and the implications topical and urgent.

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Thanks for the stumble, Howard. E-space is patient, and I’m glad you found my story.

    [Reply]

  10. Paul Payton

    Just linked to this via today’s post (also excellent). Once again, Paul, you have been to the mountaintop (to paraphrase Rev. Martin Luther King). Others have said it better and in more detail, so I’ll just add that I am always gratified to know someone else who recognizes that spirituality and religion are two different (but often, not always) related things.

    Thank you for this and all your comments. I am always impressed at how often our ideas align.

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    You know what they say about great minds, Paul. They think in a certain way. Of course I would never call myself “a great mind.” That’s for other to determine. But like you, I am always grateful to find likeminded people in the world. Thanks for being one of them!

    [Reply]

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  12. 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.

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

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

    [Reply]

  13. 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.

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    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!

    [Reply]

  14. Erik Alexander

    Thank you Paul for another illuminating post.

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

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

    [Reply]

  15. 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!

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    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!

    [Reply]

  16. 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”!

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    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!

    [Reply]

  17. 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!

    [Reply]

  18. 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.

    [Reply]

  19. 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.

    [Reply]

  20. 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.

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    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?

    [Reply]

  21. 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…

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

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

    [Reply]

  22. Kitzie Stern

    Loved this post Paul. Thank you.

    [Reply]

  23. Debby Barnes

    Most excellent, Paul. Yes…SPLENDID.

    [Reply]

  24. 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.

    [Reply]

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