A Business Fable
by RICHARD WHITELEY
The excitement and gratification of work, indivisible from the success of an enterprise, depends upon the spirit of the people involved, not the "bottom line" of profits realized. Through the methods of the shaman (the Siberian word means "one who sees in the dark"), this vitality and success of a business corporation can be rediscovered, and that is the message of The Corporate Shaman.
Whiteley writes The Corporate Shaman like a novel with a detective-style plot. Will the fictive companys hero realize his fatal flaw of neglecting his people in favor of profits? Will the loyal lieutenants, his department heads, prevail in the face of the dastardly usurper, the accountant Frank Farratt? (Incidentally, the naming of characters in this fable is a clever word exercise: the companys chief executive is Leon King; his Human Resources manager, who risks her career at PRIMETEC by telling the truth, is Helen Singer; the conservative head of operations who dares to take a new direction is Mark Steed.)
As these characters work through their conflicts, the Corporate Shaman, Jason Hand, enters the scene as a "consultant" or "coach," safe words for the shaman he truly is. Mark Steed describes Hand: "He has a way of coming up with solutions like you wouldnt believe ... hes like a magician."
The character Jason Hand explains shamanism as "a methodology for maintaining personal health and power. One of the goals of shamanism is to restore beneficial power while removing power that is harmful."
A shaman then, is a healer for the spirit. What is it that needs healing? The fear and vulnerability that are part of the human condition: "We all identify with the [fear and vulnerability], either consciously or unconsciously. When we assume ourselves to be above such drama, it is almost always because we are in denial about our own humanness."
In healing PRIMETECs injured condition, Jason Hand leads several "students" on shamanic journeys to help them get in touch with the lower world the world of nature and with their guiding spirits.
We journey first with Jason, and then with Mark, on their power animal retrievals, where they enter the lower world and observe what it has to teach them. This journey begins with the beating of a drum; the relaxing, repetitious monotone facilitates a change in consciousness. Subjects then visualize an entrance into the earth, something they have actually seen and are familiar with. In this lower world of nature, subjects will come to recognize the power animal by its repeated appearance. This power animal guide may only be for the subject's particular project or immediate question or it may be a more enduring guide, but whatever it is (say, an ant), it can't be rejected in favor of a more glamorous animal like a horse or a panther.
Id like to tell my experience of power animal retrieval. One evening, I sat on a ferry going home. I thought I was concerned about the situation Id face when I returned home. The drumming to which I hearkened was the throb of the ferrys engines. My shamanic entry was through a dark, descending grove of trees. I relaxed and wandered into the lower world and ultimately came to recognize, to my surprise, a seagull as my power animal. I left my shamanic journey feeling very calm and centered. I took the seagulls appearance to mean that I should follow its habit of picking its way along the rocky shoreline, lifting to fly in the air at random.
When I got home, then, I was expecting to pick my way through everyones agendas and problems, and to fly to my inner freedom when challenged. I wasnt prepared to receive the full, focused attention with which my mate greeted me. He, then, was hurt and said so, and I realized that the problems I was picking through (with my seagull power guide) were really the problems of the day I had just left: a friends illness, a grown childs misbehavior. When I explained this to my mate, I further realized how much Id wanted to tell him about The Corporate Shaman.
Mission rather neatly accomplished, although not in the manner I had expected.
Shamanism sheds light, especially when the spirit of the possible is allowed. As Hand says, "Creativity ... can only be available in direct proportion to the freedom of spirit and self-determination." By being open-minded and playful to the concepts and advice in The Corporate Shaman, you may find, as I did, a delightful journey to a satisfying conclusion.