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Interview with Debra and William Miller

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"Increasing interest in spirituality in the workplace is due to an overall evolution in consciousness, which we are experiencing as human beings."

Interview by -  Pradip Sinha,
Associate Consultant,
ICMR (IBS Center for Management Research).

Debra founded Masterful Mission in 1991 as a coaching organization working with executives, business owners and entrepreneurs to bring out their deepest values and most natural talents. As a US-based national speaker and workshop leader, Debra has spoken to thousands of people about the topics of her two books, Beyond Motivation and Beyond Prospecting and her coaching methodologies, "Business by Design" and "Spiritual Life-Design". Before founding Masterful Mission, Debra managed corporate accounting, finance, and information technology departments for two oil and gas firms, one international and the other US-based.

has been an internationally recognized expert on values driven corporate renewal and innovation since the mid-1980s, when he was a senior consultant for innovation management at SRI International (Stanford Research Institute, USA). As president of the Global Creativity Corporation since 1987, he has explored with clients-who have included over 100 corporations in more than a dozen countries worldwide -how creativity, business, and spirituality are all facets of the same jewel. Two of his four books have been rated among the top 30 business books of the year in the US and his 4-CD audio program, The Art of Spiritual Leadership in Business, was released in the US in 2003. He has been a guest faculty member at the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning (India) and the Stanford University Graduate School of Business (USA). Throughout his career, William has maintained his devotion to his most deeply-held spiritual values, continually finding ways to create work as worship.

Debra and William Miller co -founded the US based Global Dharma Center (www.globaldharma.org) as a non-sectarian, non-profit spiritual institution in May, 2000. As a way to focus on leadership in the South Asian region, they co-founded an India-based NGO, the Center For Dharmic Leadership, in January, 2005. Together, Debra and William have dedicated more than 50 years of their combined corporate and consulting experience to inspiring and empowering people of all professions to live and work from a spiritual basis. They have authored numerous books and audio programs and currently co-author a column on "Spirituality at Work" for the spirituality website of the Times of India (http://spirituality.indiatimes.com/articlelist/8365009.cms)

Many of us fail to distinguish between religion and spirituality. Is there a difference between the two? If yes, what according to you is the difference?

Each religion has its own understanding of the nature of creation and the Creator; this diversity provides people with different avenues for realizing the one unifying spiritual basis that we all share. But a religion that only focuses on the outer form of rites and rituals has lost its essence. When rituals become the prime focus in a religion rather than the spiritual nature it is intended to unite us with, then the differences become all-important. The result can be outright warfare, rather than the inclusive, unifying nature of spirituality.

Because spirituality is the single essence of all religions, it is by nature inclusive of all people and religions, rather than exclusive. From a spiritual (unity) view, the differences in religious understanding and practices deserve respect. The role of any religion is to help people tap into their spirituality, and to support that spirituality in the shared circumstances of life and work. Spirituality allows people of all religions to work together in harmony, even in the "secular" world of business.

What are the challenges faced by the world of business today? Can spirituality play a role in overcoming these challenges?

Regarding the challenges of globalization: Spirituality is relevant to globalization in that it is naturally inclusive. Since spirituality is the thread that connects all beings and all religious/ spiritual traditions, it allows us to connect at a deeper level in order to overcome language and cultural barriers. The inclusive nature of spirituality allows us to respect the local cultures while reaching across cultures to promote greater collaboration. It also supports us to harmonize diversity and generate goodwill solutions that benefit everyone.

While speaking at the 2004 World Urban Forum in Barcelona, Spain, we were acutely aware of the global consciousness that is fast becoming a reality in our world. But how do business leaders embrace this global consciousness from a spiritual basis? While pondering over this, we found a speech given by Steven C Rockefeller in August, 2004, at the University of the Philippines. Steven Rockefeller, Chairman of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, worked with a large number of international groups to produce the Earth Charter, a UN initiative calling for establishing "a sound ethical foundation for the emerging global society and to help build a sustainable world based on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice and a culture of peace." In his speech, he gave a unique perspective about globalization:

"A new planetary civilization is beginning to emerge, and it is interconnecting all cultures. The communications, transportation, and economic systems that are creating this global society are expressions of an industrial-technological society. In order for this new planetary civilization to fully realize its potential, it must generate a spiritual and ethical consciousness consistent with its geographical, ecological, intellectual, social, and economic situation.

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