Good work is about living a fulfilling and meaningful life. Our normal concept of being a professional: where “what you are good at” meets “what you can be paid for” is only a small part, albeit an important part, of finding our true purpose in life. And so it is for good work. No matter how successful we are as professionals, in earning money, in becoming a sought after employee, consultant, speaker, writer, most of us eventually start to ask “Is that it? Isn’t there more to life? What legacy do I want to leave the world?” For many this leads to “what is my reason for being?” These questions are where “what I love” and “what the world needs” meet.
How we find our own unique reason for being is much easier, much more fulfilling and perhaps only possible for most of us when we explore this in a learning community with others simultaneously going through a similar journey of their own. The discussion and reflection of how philosophers, academics from a variety of fields, spiritual leaders and those who seem to have successfully found their own reason for being, are central to the shared learning that the Good Work Academy will help guide. Naturally, the discussions that will ensue and the joys and shocks that we encounter en route are deeply personal, very human and revealing. The open sharing of our own stories of success and failure and the insights of other co-learners are the crucible in which our reason for being can emerge, patiently and authentically our own.
Most likely, you will already be a successful professional, with an inquiring disposition, asking yourself variations of the question “is there more to life?” Such people are often relatively senior, sought after in their field, yet they know that they have so much more that they could give, so much more influence they could have. Do you want to do good work, to make a positive difference in your corner of the world? You know it isn’t easy. There are obstacles in your environment and in yourself. Whilst the Academy can offer no guarantees of quick results, the journey that you will come on with us will get you to ask better questions of yourself, provide new insights as you learn from and with others in a way that’s much deeper than you have experienced before in a professional environment.
The GoodWork programme takes a practical and flexible approach to good work. Good work is not something we can develop just by reading, thinking or even talking about it. We have to do it. So the GoodWork programme is an invitation to experiment with different ways of being in the world. We also need companions on the way – people with whom we can share our experiences in a trusting and supportive environment. We need to tell the stories of our experiments in good work and someone who will listen. The GoodWork Academy operates as an inclusive community of people from different backgrounds who support its purpose and ethos. The Academy practices a non-discriminatory policy with regard to race, colour, creed, gender, age, national origin, handicap or sexual orientation.
When you join the programme you will be exposed to ideas from many different sources and be provided with tools designed to build your capability and confidence. You will join a small cohort of others from around the world who will become conversation partners on the journey. And we will provide mentoring to help you design a learning plan that addresses your goals, with feedback and support tailored to your situation.
The GoodWork Programme explores four themes that can deepen our understanding and practice of good work. Stirrings taps into our deep longing for more and explores the source of what gives meaning to our lives. Awakenings is an invitation to pay attention to what is happening around us and shift our relationship to things and people. Encounters welcomes the knocks and shocks of our meeting with reality, and Entanglements looks for insight into the hidden ways in which the structures and institutions in which we live and work both help and hinder good work. The four aspects of good work are not distinct stages, as if we need to master the first before moving to the second. Their edges are blurred, they interact and in-form one another. So, as you move into the programme, you are invited to go where your energy lies and follow it, referring back or looking forward until all 4 aspects of good work are working for you – your encounters are deepening your longing and desire; your entanglements are asking you to pay closer attention, for example.
Noticing how much we long to be more real and more deeply human can be for many a moment of spiritual awakening. What we seek is to be fully human, all our faculties working in harmony, grounded in our bodies and responsive to the wisdom of our heart and mind. The Good Work Academy therefore works at the edges, the boundaries of several spheres of life: the professional and being the best I can be at work, getting to the heart of what we are good at and can be paid for; the reflexive rigour of surfacing, assessing and describing our journeys that have brought us to this point; and the spiritual/philosophical dimensions of what we love and what the world needs from us.
If you are interested in joining the programme you are invited to participate in one of our briefings. The briefings serve as a taster designed to help you decide whether you would like to join a small group of 4-6 people that will engage in a process of inquiry and practice over an initial six month period.
This will be a journey into your own lifeworld and experience. What we provide are the tools and perspectives that will help you interrogate your experience and deepen your way of being in the world. Some are widely known. Some, you will find, are unique to the programme. Alongside others in your group you will be encouraged to develop your own palette of personal practices that suit your particular need at this stage of your life.
Everyone, and every group is different. The following elements provide a loose structure to be adapted to suit each group:
1. An initial ‘gathering’ together to contract around the process, individually and collectively. The group will establish its own working pattern around the principles of acceptance, security (trust), stimulation and challenge.
2. Following the initial meeting the group will meet online every couple of weeks to explore fresh insights on the principles and practice of good work. Participants will be encouraged to keep a reflective journal of their experiences of good work and share their stories with the group. Individual mentoring between sessions will be available online or face to face.
3. At the end of the 6 month period the group can review the process and may decide to continue for a further 3 months.
4. At the end of this period (6-9 months) participants may decide to walk away and continue their good work on their own, or they may choose to continue their association with the Academy as an Associate.
We have chosen to call our work an Academy to make a very modest association with the gathering of scholar-practitioners of ancient Greece. At the end of the formal programme we won’t have answered all the questions and we want to provide an opportunity for anyone who would like to maintain their association with the GoodWork Academy and continue their inquiries with us to do so. We will be exploring how this might work with the groups who join the programme.
Over time, as the programme develops, we would like to bring together a group of elders (who might be called Members of the Academy) who can continue the work, taking responsibility for facilitating small groups of new participants and contributing fresh perspectives on the principles and practice of good work.