Is Your Workplace a Healing Organization?

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Doctor Neha: Hi and welcome everybody. Today we have a very special guest. I’d like to introduce all of you to Raj Sisodia. Welcome Raj.

Raj Sisodia: Hi Neha, and hi everybody.

Doctor Neha: So this is a really special week because I got my hands on a copy of your new book, The Healing Organization, and it launched today. And I am so happy to be able to talk to you and to share this with so many people because I cannot tell you how many people, uh, do not experience their place of work as a healing organization. So that’s the name of the book, uh, which is called The Healing Organization. And one of the things Raj, that I love about this book is when you say that you know, our workplace, it should be a place of healing for those that work there, a source of healing for those it serves and a force for healing in the world. And I know in health care and everybody watching, uh, knows, uh, I burned out, uh, that I did not feel that way in healthcare. And I’ve gone off on my own to create a business where I do feel that way. So where did you come up with this idea and how did you feel so inspired to take this out to the world and share it with businesses and leaders?

Raj Sisodia: Yeah, so I mean, just thinking about what you just said. Uh, the sad irony of our world is that even our places of healing hospitals, right? I mean, doctors, nurses, veterinarians, uh, those places have become places of suffering because of the way in which we work. So it’s not the work in It’s itself. I mean, your work is inherently noble and healing well, you know, when you become a doctor or a nurse. But it’s the way in which we lead, manage and organize the things that we do that has become a tremendous source of suffering. So over the years I’ve observed that in the course of making money and running our businesses, we actually create a lot of what I would term as unnecessary suffering, we get enormous amounts of stress and pressure on people. And there’s a lot of fear in most cultures. Uh, heart attacks I literally 20% higher on Mondays.

Uh, you know, 88% of people feel they work for a company that doesn’t see them as a human being, just as a function or an object. And about 85% of people worldwide are disengaged from their work. Their body is there, but really they’re not fully committed to that work. And they’re not fully engaged and many of them actually hate their work. Work has become like a prison for too many of us. And I believe it doesn’t need to be that way. I think our place of work can be like a playground. You know, a place of creation, of joy, of community, uh, achieving something meaningful with our lives. All of that is possible. And I think we have been aiming way too low with work. We’ve made it sort of a necessary evil, whereas it can be the deep source of fulfilling experience in life and achieving our life’s purpose and having deep meaning and joy through that. So that’s what this book is about.

Doctor Neha: Well, I love that you’re working on so many levels to make this happen because you know, there’s a level on which you work, where you coach CEOs and you help them. You’ve written this book that gives them the vision of what is possible, right? And then you help them through the journey, right, of how do you create your workplace into a place of healing. You also are a professor at Babson and so you’re, you’re creating the next generation through teaching and through your books and through – don’t you, you have a course called conscious capitalism, this idea. And so in that course, how do you help the next generation of leaders, uh, in business? What is it that you do differently in this book that allows the next generation of leaders to be ready for what’s next in the world?

Raj Sisodia: This, this book is really a continuation of a stream of work that for me started around 2005 and I somewhat stumbled upon a different way of being in the world of business with a book called Firms of Endearment, which started out as something way different. Uh, but I found a, and maybe this found me really, you know, there’s a special I heard recently that ideas are looking for a home and these ideas are out there and they’re needed. They need a channel to come through and they need to find a receptive channel. Somebody who resonates at that frequency. I did and, but therefore I did not resonate with the dominant frequency of the world of business and it’s domination, aggression, hypercompetition, winning, results at all costs.

Doctor Neha: The next quarters profits.

Raj Sisodia: Yeah, it’s short term financial. The focus on human beings are somewhere down the list, you know, profits and other things.

Doctor Neha: Well, it’s almost like you use human beings to attain that.

Raj Sisodia: That’s right. And we know that’s empty and hollow. We know that does not lead to fulfillment for anybody. It creates a lot of suffering and victims and also the people who perpetrate that actually do not end up happy or fulfilled either. So it’s just a system of extraordinary amounts of unnecessary suffering. So I experienced all of that as a business professor and a, and then stumbled upon this other way and the Firms of Endearment, then led to conscious capitalism, which then led to books like Shakti leadership, which is recognizing that the key element that was missing is the feminine. I would also today call them other energy, right? When we have all that excess of masculine energy and that ultimately becomes hyper masculine or toxic and therefore it becomes higher, hyper competitive and aggressive. You know, business becomes a kind of war, an activity that we engage in without a balance of energies becomes extreme in that regard.

And that’s what’s happening in the world of business as it has in politics. And we need to balance that now. So with this feminine energy and that really is a healing energy, it’s the life giving energy for us all. That’s how we are all here. And then we lose sight of it. We are born from it and then we forget about it. And then we tried to emulate that other energy, the father, the achievement of striving and we’re saying you need both and you need in harmony and you do it in a way that we grow. But why do you grow? You grow so that you bring more healing and you bring more nourishment and wellbeing to the world. So that’s really the journey that we’ve been on in the course that I teach. It’s really about consciousness as much as it is about capitalism.

It’s really about awakening people to their own innate, sense of purpose, what they are meant to be and why they were born. And also connecting them to their core values and having a series of exercises and experiences that they go through so that they’re not coming at this purely from the head and intellectual exercise. And you could make the intellectual argument for all of this too, you know, because this stuff really works. It creates more efficiency, more effectiveness, more productivity, more innovation, more loyalty, all of that. So these kinds of businesses do succeed better. But if you purely do it from that lens and intellectual and self serving lens, this is just another way to maximize profits. And it actually doesn’t, it loses its power. You have to do the right things for the right reasons. So you have to actually want to do this from the heart and soul.

And that’s what we try to awaken in. The students that come to this class. That ultimately do this for the right reasons because it’s the right thing to do. Not because it’s going to make you more money, although it probably will, because that’s how all these things aligned together. And so it becomes a really transformational experience for them. For many of them, it alters the trajectory of their lives, not only professionally, but personally as well. So one of the big points we make is, you know, you are one person in your life, and your life is one life and everything that you do should be a reflection of what you hold dear, and what you care about and what your values are and what your purpose is. And that shows up at work and it shows up in your personal life. It shows up in the community and all your of your interactions should reflect that as I think it creates that wholeness within people rather than the fragmentation. Today we have extreme fragmentation in the world. People are fragmented within and they’re disconnected from each other. So this is about creating that sense of wholeness within, and the sense of connectedness, inside with others.

Doctor Neha: So to be clear, when you speak of Feminine Energy, you’re not talking about male or female. What you’re talking about is the feminine and masculine traits within each one of us. So we all have both of those.

Raj Sisodia: That’s right. As Carl Young said, every man has an inner woman. Every woman has an inner man in that sense, as we have those energies and we know, we may have been as one with a certain gender that might incline us towards more of certain energy, but the others, the other energy is there. And our journey in this lifetime really is to ultimately transcend the gender and actually become whole. And so wholeness, if we think about the word ‘healing,’ it has two roots. One is in wholeness, right? So which is the words not having the fragmentation within. So we have fragmentation between the masculine and feminine sides within most of us. One is overdeveloped, one is underdeveloped or suppressed, but we also have our elder energy or our higher self and our child self. Alright, and those are often disconnected from us as well. And what we are talking about is actually having access to all four of those energies in a sense.

So we have the elder, the father energy, the mother energy, the elder energy, and the child energy, and in a healthy manifestation of each of those then results in true fulfillment and joy and meaning of creativity and productivity. You know, all of the above, everything comes together when we have all of those operating. So that’s the wholeness. And the other one is holy. In other word, healing also comes from holy – recognizing that we human beings. We are not like any other creatures on this planet. You know, we alone have imagination. We alone have agency. We alone work even when we don’t have to because we think about legacy and impact on others, right? We’re not programmed. We have free will, and therefore all of that makes us creators. And in a way divine, because we bring greatness, you know, into existence that did not exist before. Everything you look around yourself, everything existed inside somebody’s mind before it existed in the in the physical plane. Right? So that’s our sense of healing, that we want to get to that place of holiness and wholeness, and treat each other that way. Recognizing that divine quality that exists in each of us and helping each other become whole through the workplace.

Doctor Neha: Wow. So as people are listening to this and thinking, I want each of you this listening to think to yourself, you know, on a scale of one to 10, if you could rate your place of work as a place of healing, it’s a 10 and if it’s a toxic work environment, you know, it’d be a zero or one. Where would you rate your current place of work? And many of you know that I transform hospital cultures and corporate cultures into healing organizations. And so when I met Raj, what a lovely synergy it was to hear somebody changing the mindset of business and of thought leaders in this and advocating for what comes before the work that I get to do when someone hires me to do it.

Raj Sisodia: So, Raj….yeah, we’re trying, we’re trying to put you out of business, you know.

Doctor Neha: I actually have a feeling that you put me far more into business, then you will put me out of business. There’s a lot of work to do.

Raj Sisodia: That is true because the first step is to recognize, right? As James Baldwin said, not everything that is faced can be changed. Nothing can be changed until it is faced. Yeah. Last thing we do in the book is hold up a mirror to the world of work and business to say, here are the consequences of how we have operated. We’re not trying to blame anybody. We say, here’s all the suffering that has presented. Nobody sets out as a leader or a boss to create suffering. Very few people do unless they’re sociopaths, right? But because of the way they’re programmed and taught and the way they think, you know, they’re supposed to work, they create all this suffering, and then people are great at hiding it. Most people I say are stoic and they’re heroic. I mean, if you could see a thought bubble above the head of everybody in your workplace and simply know what they’re dealing with, what happened that morning, what they’re afraid of this evening, what’s going on in their life, personally, as well as at work and how much stress they’re under.

And you know, your heart would break every day. But the fact is that until we know we can’t do anything about it, right? And the other thing that’s hidden in the workplace is love. You know, we are born to care for each other, right? We have a need to care that’s even greater than our drive for self interest. You know, Adam Smith was considered the father of capitalism, and wrote ‘Wealth of Nations,’ which is about the human drive towards self interest. If we can build societies around freedom where people can pursue that it will create prosperity. And that’s true. But he also wrote a book about the human need to care, which is the theory of moral sentiments. And that sense he was the mother and the father of capitalism. But we ignore that, that mother energy, right? And therefore that caring side has no place in the world of work today.

You know, it is seen as a weakness, alright, that you need to be ruthless and tough and aggressive and dog-eat-dog, etc, etc. So that energy has nowhere to go in the world of work. You leave it at home and you put on your mask and your armor and you go to battle, and fight your competitors, and capture some market share and you know, it’s all rooted and steeped in that kind of energy. But the reality is people have that. And if we give them an outlet, if we give them a way to express their caring, that’ll heal them in addition to healing whoever it is that they’re caring for. So I believe that love and our capacity for love and our desire to care and our suffering are both in the closet, in separate closets, right, in the workplace. And if we can let them both out, right? That love will heal what other people have. I’m suffering in one way, but I can do something for somebody else who is suffering in another way, you know? And that can permeate the whole culture. Yeah. We find so our own, we have what each other need in order to heal. We simply have to create the conditions and we have to do the role modeling, right? And create the systems within which that can happen. Then you release extraordinary altruism within organizations, extraordinary sense of care and joy, and you know, fulfillment. People get to do things for each other without a self serving motive.

Doctor Neha: Right? And what’s your, what’s your really speaking about is transparency. And in order for transparency to be in the workplace, there has to be trust. There has to be a container of trust and safety. And so what I find when I go in and work with teams and work with leaders is that that trust is missing. And when you trace it all the way back to – if somebody’s purpose is to use people to make money, why would those people ever trust the entity? Because the entity doesn’t care about them. And so now for people who are watching, let’s say somebody rated themselves, you know, lower than a seven, right? Their place of work. One of the things that I really enjoy that you speak about is purpose. And that not only do the people need to have purpose in an organization, and that’s the question I would ask the person watching, which is, what is your purpose?

What is your purpose in the work that you do? And if you can’t think of it quite now, think about it the day you were starting to study to do this work or training to do this work. What were you hoping the impact was that you could make? Right? Even if you’ve forgotten it years later, but really, Raj, what you also say is not only should the people – us as individuals – have, this idea of purpose, an individual purpose, but that a company should not just have purpose and mission on the wall, right? But that it can actually truly speak to its purpose through asking its employees where the gap is between the purpose and the mission that’s on the wall that’s listed, and the truth of their everyday experience. And you’ve described this, that you actually – part of the research for what you’ve done in – in these companies, is literally gone on the ground and asked people, ‘what makes your company a healing organization? ‘And what did you hear? What did they say?

Raj Sisodia: Well, there’s a genuine sense of caring that emanates from the top. You cannot have a healing organization without a leader whose core sensibility is that of a healing being. How would they see suffering? And they want to alleviate it, they want to bring joy into the world, right? So it starts there and without the leader healing themselves, they can’t get to that place. So one of the things that we tell leaders is look within first, because if you haven’t healed yourself, and if you haven’t dealt with whatever traumas, and other things that you know, all of us carry from our childhood and life experiences. If you haven’t processed them and dealt with them and resolve them, or alchemize them into something positive, if you haven’t found meaning in that suffering that you had, then you’re going to perpetuate that onto others. And a big large, you will magnify that into the organization because now you have such impact on so many people, right?

So we have to start with looking inward and healing ourselves individually. And that applies at every level because most of us in the organization have some people who report to us or are impacted by our decisions or our actions, right? So we all have to work on that inherently just for our own sense of peace and wellbeing, but also because of the impact we will have on others, as well as our family and our children. And so, yeah, I think it really starts with what you would call personal accountability. And taking ownership of that and then starting to heal that. In fact, I had to go through that myself because as I started working on this book, initially was more of an intellectual exercise. I mean, I saw that this was something that I was using as an acronym for purpose. Healing were the qualities of a great purpose.

But then I started to feel that there’s a need for healing in the world because we have so much suffering, you know, a psychic and a planetary suffering going on in the world, and stress and anxiety and depression and suicide. All those things are going up. But then I got the clear message from people I truly trust, who guide me, who said, ‘you need to heal yourself.’ And go within and go through your own healing experiences, healing journeys, in order to be able to write about this at a deeper level, not a superficial level. And I took the responsibility of writing this book way seriously. And as we said, it’s a sacred undertaking to write about healing, and therefore we have to put everything that we can into it. And that included taking months off from the writing to actually go through all of that.

Right. So I think all healing begins with us, and as I think I’ve heard you frame it as me, you won’t heal yourself, right, and then serve each other. And then from that you change the world. I love that framing of it because it does start at the right place. We are the source. Human beings are not a resource. Companies refer to us as a resource or sometimes they’ll say where your assets are. No, sorry, we’re not. We are the source. This is where everything comes from. Also for good and bad. We are the source of great creativity and caring and love and a source of incredible brutality and inhumanity and abusing and using each other. That’s been true throughout human history. And so how do we connect people to the better angels of their nature? As Lincoln said, how do we awake non that side of them, create an environment in which that happens? I think a lot of it has to do with the systems that we created – the modeling that we do as healers.

Doctor Neha: When you are so incredibly passionate about this, I mean, it is so clear to me that it is your life’s purpose to do this. And can you just tell me as we conclude, where did you get this passion and this source and you know, this clarity, because I have to say, I mean I’m Indian and I do not see this in a lot of Indian men. So I am wondering what has fueled your source?

Raj Sisodia: Well, I mean, it’s really front and center for me right now. I lost, I lost my mother three weeks ago today, and she was an incredible source of not only love, but inspiration and role modeling for me, because she brought pure unconditional love, service to others, taking care without having any agenda, you know, beyond that. And that energy is something we take for granted, even if you’re blessed to have it in our home. And I was guilty of the same. I had a father who was out there in the world and achieving and, and recognized, and all of that. And I spent probably 45 years just emulating or trying to emulate that and then after that too, not really feeling fulfilled in the process because that wasn’t really me. Alright, the energy that he brought, which was a much more aggressive, domineering, dominating, and all of that.

Doctor Neha: Well, you wanted to make him proud, I’m sure.

Raj Sisodia: Yeah. And I think we all have that programmed within us, especially coming from a more a patriarchal culture in India, almost a feudal subculture that I come from. So I was sort of hostage to that. And then somehow I stumbled into, as I said, Firms of Endearment, and that started to open up the other side. And I found myself emotionally moved and having tears in my eyes as I’m trying to write that book. And I said, wow, something different. I’ve never had tears of joy connected to work before. There’s something awakening in me and I think my purpose found me ,that there’s another way of doing business that resonates with me at a cellular level. It’s not the traditional story. And so that started the journey around 2005, and that then led to this incredibly, rewarding and meaningful line of work and the founding of the Conscious Capitalism movement and this worldwide impact that we are now starting to have where people are given permission to be whole, to be human, to be caring, to be loving, to be vulnerable.

Doctor Neha: As leaders at work and at home.

Raj Sisodia: Yeah, you know, it was like taking off, you know, your tight shoes and suddenly being able to relax and be yourself. You know, a lot of people felt they couldn’t be, including me. I felt I had to be a certain way in order to succeed because of everything I had been told. So I really have to credit my mother, and I was able to tell her all of this last year and it was deeply meaningful to both of us. We both had a really cathartic experience when I was able to do that, because even she didn’t realize the impact she had. All she did was just be, right. We talk about being and doing, she was all about, she did a lot too, but she also just, her being. Just being in her presence would calm you down and make you feel better. And so I was able to tell her how much that had meant to me. And even now that I’ve lost her, I feel like I have access to her. And that energy is what I’m seeking to bring to the world. As my coach told me last year, that you have been honoring your mother with your work in the last 15 years. And I think all of us could honor that mother energy. You know that divine life giving mother energy that exists, right? And all of us have experience with that. If we can bring more of that, that is what the world needs.

Doctor Neha: And even if it, even if it’s not your mother, it’s certainly, it could be in your father and it could be a mentor, and it could be a teacher or a sibling, whoever it is. And I really think that is where we will leave this conversation, because first of all, thank you for sharing so openly and honestly, and I’m sorry about your mother. What I would say is that before we judge and say, oh, this isn’t the right workplace for us, right? Because some people could come to that conclusion. It seems to me that the first question would be, how did me choosing this place of work serve me at the time that I chose it? And does it still serve me? Right? And what is the impact I can make as a leader with whomever touches my local arena, whatever that is. And how is it that I can also, in a positive way let other people know that this is possible with my optimism and my creativity. And I am going to do one more plug for your book because I’m excited about it. One way that you can do this actually is to share the Healing Organization. And you have many stories in here of organizations who are doing just that. So for those of you that don’t believe it’s possible, or think that we’re ‘pie in the sky’ in talking about this – in Raj’s book, he gives more than 25 examples, I want to say, at least.

Raj Sisodia: Yes, 25 stories, yes.

Doctor Neha: Of actual organizations who are, what we would consider healing organizations. So not only is it possible, I would say it begins with you and you want to get really clear why you chose where you are. Does it serve you anymore? How would you rate your place of work as a healing organization from a one to 10 and take responsibility for yourself as the first step? What is your purpose and mission? What is it that you want to impact the world with? What do you value about that and what are the resources that can help empower you, like the healing organization? What are those resources that can empower you? And if you’re thinking about going back to school, I would highly suggest choosing business professors like this one.

Raj Sisodia: Thank you. So I believe we, each and every one of us, can be a healer in whatever sphere of life we choose. As a matter of fact, you don’t have to be a doctor to be a healer. You can be a lawyer, you can be a restaurant owner. And every organization that we run can be a place of healing. Doesn’t matter, again, what business we engage in. As long as we reduce suffering, elevate joy, and enable healthy growth, we are healers.

Doctor Neha: Hmm. I like that. So thank you, Raj. Thank you for joining us for your time, for your energy, and really for all the passion and love that you bring to the business world. You have me believing in the power of business and money in the world to actually be used for good and to heal. So thank you.

Raj Sisodia: Thank you, Neha. Thank you for the work that you do as well.

Doctor Neha: Thanks. Bye everybody.

Doctor Neha

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