We’re a husband and wife team, Pat and John Sullivan, who dream of a world filled with ethical, sustainable businesses and nonprofit organizations. We dream that every worker enjoys purposeful work and brings home plenty of energy and time for a rich life. We dream of an economy that works for all: ethical, based not in greed or fear, but in a more sustainable and loving reality.
We bring to this vision our experience, our connections, our passion, and what we’ve learned from facing our own work, money and spiritual challenges.
When we married in 1983, neither of us had found our callings. John, a former priest in the Discalced Carmelite religious order, then worked for the U.S. government. Pat was a free-lance writer who sought ways to connect insights from transpersonal psychology, ecumenical spirituality and creativity with everyday life.
During a graduate program under Matthew Fox in 1988, Pat developed her thesis on how people block or recognize and shape visions for life and work. This was the basis of her work to help others clarify and build their work-life visions. Because she was then absolutely untrained in business skills, she had to rely on free-lance legal work for income. This work, especially when Pat and John went through the illnesses and deaths of 3 close relatives across the country, was very challenging. To stay efficient and avoid being caught in another downsizing, Pat had to draw on every spiritual practice she had ever learned. As she did so, she discovered the central thesis for her all her work:
Meaningful, satisfying work depends not on job description but on the willingness to bring compassion, purpose and other spiritual gifts to work.
When you bring spirit to work, stress melts; burnout is no longer an issue. Instead, you create “worklife excellence,” so a rich life sets the stage for effective and satisfying work, and you can leave work with more energy at the end of the day than you had at the beginning!
John’s graduate work under Matt Fox focused on integrating spirituality and ecology, with a paper on the wisdom of Native American and other nature-based spirituality as compared to that of the Christian mystics. His work in 1995 as research director of Spirit of Health’s Spirit and Work Resource Guide connected us to the rapidly expanding field of spirit and work and to its leaders. That led to Pat’s “Workplace Altars Project” for the Bay Area Organizational Development Network, filled with photos and stories of how lawyers, HMO staff and others keep spirit alive at work.
Next came Pat’s 26 “Vision and Values” columns on spirit at work for the San Francisco Chronicle’s career section, which led to her writing the book Work with Meaning, Work with Joy: Bringing Your Spirit to Any Job and many articles on spirit, work and money, including “Etiquette for Spirit and Work,” and the forthcoming chapters on spirit and law in a new handbook for spirituality and work. With these and many other publications came opportunities to speak, consult with individuals and groups, and conduct workshops on meaningful, ethical, satisfying work. Pat’s DVD for California lawyers, “From Stress, Burnout and Exhaustion to Energy, Resilience and Insight” is one of the state’s most popular continuing legal education programs.
We created together the Spirit and Work Resource Center, which for several years hosted monthly spirit and work events and where we taught occasional business skills classes for entrepreneurs with strong values and vision. Our class, “Make Me an Instrument of Peace at Work,” is based on the popular prayer attributed to St. Francis.
Currently the books and articles we created for the Spirit and Work Resource Center’s library are in storage, awaiting a new, more accessible home. Because so much spirit, work and money wisdom is available online, we will be expanding here our connections to online resources. John will be the editor of this resource collection and will offer many blog posts on these topics. He also maintains his own business, John Sullivan at Your Service, providing personal services for busy people. In all his work, he is a gentle soul, filled with quiet humor, a passion for the spirit of Louis Armstrong and a love of translating English into and out of Latin.
We welcome your own dreams, ideas and stories.
Very best wishes, Pat and John Sullivan