A fundamental component of Jesuit Spirituality or, often called, Ignatius Spirituality, is the Spiritual Exercises. These exercises were developed by the founder of the Society of Jesus, St. Ignatius Loyola, as a means to deepen one’s connection with God through a series of prayers, retreats, and reflections. These exercises are largely formulated with the principal goal to grow in self-awareness so that you can better understand your talents, and identify what factors are influencing your emotions and how you navigate them, and help you on your life journey.
Part of the Spiritual Exercises is the Daily Examen, a quotidian technique where you reflect on your day to identify moments of grace, and to discern the direction we are being led to go. This is a five-step process of reflection where you become aware of God’s presence, review the day with gratitude, pay attention to your emotions, choose one feature of the day and pray on it, and look toward tomorrow.
Two growing terms in business when it comes to assessing what makes great team leaders are “Grit”, and “EQ or Emotional Intelligence”. These two principal adjectives have become key in the recruitment strategy of many HR professionals because they have been identified as the two most key attributes that will assist someone to succeed. The Spiritual Exercises and Daily Examen build on those two fundaments.
“EQ” is a person’s ability to know and manage their emotions to improve their performance. The Exercises help you to grow in your self-awareness so that you can better understand what affects your emotions, and how you navigate them throughout the day. This helps you keep your mind and spirit free to dedicate your energy instead into meaningful work.
“Grit” is a term that has generated a lot of buzz in articles such as Forbes, LinkedIn, and even in TED Talks. This ambiguous term is most often used to describe someone who has the passion and dedication necessary to set and achieve long-term goals. It’s a person who has built a certain resiliency and skill in navigating difficult challenges and continuing forward. The last step in the Daily Examen helps someone achieve just that – recognize the grace of today and look forward to tomorrow.
Effective leadership requires a mental stability anchored in self-awareness and passion for achieving desired outcomes. The Daily Examen is just one way that the Spiritual Exercises can help prime an individual to grow in EQ and Grit. Armed with a sound understanding of your own talents, and emotions, you can better navigate the challenges ahead as you work to achieve your own long-term goals.
If you’re interested in the Daily Examen from a management perspective, Paul Brian Campbell, SJ, has created an adaptation of the Daily Examen entitled “Review of the Day for Managers” available online at ignatianspirituality.com.
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