In the course of your next business day, you will probably interact with team members, bosses, and customers. But will you interact with your own inner core? For that matter, are you aware of having an inner core, and can you define it?
The non-profit group A New Equilibrium (ANE) defines this core as the essence of everything that is good about us and wants to have greater influence in the world. Members of ANE come from different business and religious backgrounds and work together to become better leaders by drawing on their own and each other’s spirituality but not dogma.
The trustees of the ANE are meeting Friday and Saturday, October 24 and 25, to plan a meeting in the spring that will be open to the general public. For more information, visit www.anewequilibrium.org or contact Howard Matalon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ANE works with individuals on being aware of and staying connected to one’s inner core, and — just as important — on having the know-how and support to re-bond when the connection seems lost.
We’ve all had a sense of being in touch with our inner core when we feel positive and confident and aligned with a sense of purpose. But when faced with workplace stressors like job and departmental changes, red tape, uncertainty, and competitiveness, it’s easy to forget this connection.
That’s what happened to Matalon, a Summit attorney specializing in employment issues. “Years ago as I migrated from being a partner in a large law firm to a smaller one, I often felt as though I had been cast metaphorically into a desert by my own actions,” Matalon says. “It took years to realize that the ‘desert’ was really more of a desert of the soul [and] that I had cut myself off from my values and beliefs. It was only when I reconnected that I realized that my feelings about my career trajectory were more about my own feelings about disconnecting myself.”
For Matalon, a trustee and the chairman of ANE, getting to the point of reconnecting involved self-inquiry, an example of what ANE describes as an “engager.” The organization’s founder and Princeton business consultant. Stephen G. Payne describes engagers as “activities that help a leader connect to more of the positive stuff at his or her spiritual core.” Engagers are usually not based on new ideas but are unique to the individual and his situation. Some examples could be a positive affirmation, a short meditation or a music break, conversing with a friend, or sharing a particular project with a colleague.
“Nature is a huge engager for me,” says Matalon, who often visits his favorite spot in the Pinelands National Reserve. Morning meditation is another one of his engagers. “I use my ANE prayer card, which is one of the things we do at ANE. We create a personal prayer as an engager once we figure out our purpose. My purpose, for example, is to be a great growth leader for everyone.” Matalon says he uses the card to shift his thinking when he feels he needs to be more positive.
“There isn’t anything new about ANE’s teachings,” says Matalon, “but rather rediscovering or perhaps modernizing some very old concepts.” Matalon, who comes from a Jewish tradition, drew on the story of Moses to reconnect to his inner core and let go of the role he had once served at the firm where he had worked in the past.
“I believe Moses ultimately went through the same situation but he had a true spiritual awakening where he realized he had a heritage he never knew. In effect, he shed clothing that never really was his to wear and became his spiritual self.”
Matalon drew on traditional concepts not only for his own growth but in helping form ANE. Working with Payne, Matalon provided his professional services to make ANE a registered non-profit organization. In addition to corporate speaking engagements, ANE has contributed to curricula at Rider University, Princeton Theological Seminary, and Fordham University. Although the organization was registered in 2010, Payne and some current members had been meeting at a prayer group in Doylestown for a few years.
A member of the original group in Doylestown and current ANE trustee Bob Weinhold plans ANE meetings and programs. “People join ANE because they want to learn how spirituality can fit into the workplace,” says Weinhold, who comes from a Lutheran background. “We don’t ask new members what background they come from. It comes out in the course of discussion. We walk the fine line between self help and religious teachings. ANE tries to put a finger on something that people can’t necessarily define.” Some people don’t belong to a specific religion but believe there is a higher power. but can resonate with something beyond themselves, he says.
Members come from various denominations within the Judeo-Christian background, and recently from Eastern religions as well. Today, there are 50 active members including seven trustees with groups in the U.S., the U.K., and Germany. Members share ideas at informal gatherings, through group E-mails, phone conferences, and at annual retreats held at Princeton Theological Seminary.
Matalon grew up in Union County and lives in West Orange today. His father, a patent attorney and his mother, a secretary, gave him both inspiration and grounding while growing up and continue to do so today, he says. Sharing his father’s love for law, Matalon studied at Brandeis and Boston University School of Law and was an editor of the law review there. Today he is an attorney with Olenderfeldman LLP in Summit, specializing in employment counseling, human resource guidance and employment, and commercial litigation.
Matalon and Weinhold are among the ANE trustees who shared their thoughts with Payne when writing his book, “The Joy of Work: How to Stay Calm, Confident & Connected in a Chaotic World,” published in 2013.
Matalon believes that when people divorce themselves from their spiritual beliefs or pretend to be something they are not at work, they can end up feeling lost in the world. “There is a common thread connecting all of us to want to bring our spiritual thoughts and ideas into the work place,” Matalon says.