Sunday, January 9, 2011

My Interview about Meaningful Work

Look for an interview with me on "Mindfulness and Meaningful Work" in the Winter 2011 issue of Integral Yoga Magazine. It should show up on newsstands around mid-January.


This interview came about because of my consulting practice with individuals who are seeking meaningful work (aka right livelihood) and because I am the author of an anthology called Mindfulness and Meaningful Work (Available from Amazon). This consulting practice uses a model I developed over many years in sessions with about 500 individuals so far.

I do these individual consulting sessions alongside my other careers — as a consultant to small and micro business (including web business consulting) and, through FutureU, as a consultant/trainer in the effective application of technology to meetings, virtual teams and teaching. Even as these other businesses have grown, I have continued to work with individuals who are seeking work that lets them do what they love and still pay the bills.

I call the meaningful work consulting model “Good Work Guidance.” It seems to make a difference in my clients' lives and I love doing it. You can read more about it at www.meaningfulwork.com. These clients are mostly mid-life men and women who are either looking to change careers or hoping to find more satisfaction from their existing work. Some people come to me a few times while they are in transition. One man has had a session every six months for ten years while he has built a successful career as a writer/performer. I always used to meet in person with these clients but as the technology has gotten better, I find more and more of my clients work with me online using video, audio, and web conferencing.

I’m pleased with the magazine interview and I thought you’d like to know about it. Here's an excerpt:

Integral Yoga Magazine (IYM): What led you to write about mindfulness and meaningful work?

Claude Whitmyer (CW): I was a small business consultant who knew a lot about the technical aspects of business, was profoundly influenced by Buddhism and wanted to integrate my values into business, so right livelihood became a focus. I was searching for the answer to how to develop and sustain right livelihood. Bringing all this thinking together in the book served to motivate me and others to think about doing what we love while still paying the bills. My overall goal was to deepen my understanding of the concept of right livelihood; to show how to go about overcoming the obstacles in one’s path so that you can find and maintain meaningful, satisfying work; and provide encouragement to live in a way that increases one’s inner peace, self-worth and purpose.

IYM: What did you discover about trying to do that?

CW: I began trying things and making a record of what worked and didn’t work. I have a file cabinet in my garage with notes from hundreds of clients I counseled, and that became foundation of book. I found that, like me, other people were interested in right livelihood. I wanted to help so I began developing what I called, “Good Work” guidance. I use that phrase on purpose as it represents something archetypal. People have in the back of their minds good works—work that has something more to it than collecting a pay check. So, I began advising people about finding good work and advising entrepreneurs on how to start businesses in which they didn’t have to give up their values.

IYM: How does one do that?

CW: It starts with mindfulness, it continues with mindfulness and ends with mindfulness. Mindfulness allows us to live in the present moment. It keeps our sense of what our personal purpose is in front of us and it rejuvenates us. It’s the context in which a better life takes place. Without mindfulness there can be no right livelihood because of all the complexities of the world today. You can rely on mindfulness always being there for you and, if you stay mindful, you will most likely make good choices. In most of the world religions, they state explicitly the teaching that you can’t do anything about saving the world until you stabilize your own financial situation. If you have to constantly worry about how to bring enough money in to pay for food and rent, then you don’t really have the psychic energy and spiritual freedom to make it. You are operating from survival. So stabilizing your economic condition is the first step to take as you embrace mindfulness as a part of your life. Next you have to see the consequences of what you are doing. . .

claude