Martin Rutte is the co-author of The New York Times Business Bestseller, Chicken Soup for the Soul at Work, translated into over 20 languages, with sales over 1.1 million copies.
Martin has worked with many corporations such as Sony Pictures, Virgin Records, Apple Computer, and more — assisting them to expand their outlook and position themselves for the future.
For over 15 years he has been exploring peoples’ visions for the kind of world they deeply long for – His new book on this subject: Project Heaven on Earth: The 2 Simple Questions That Will Help You Change The World...Easily,has just been published.
There is a desire, a longing in each of us, for the unnecessary, immoral, and recurring problems of the planet- war, hunger, poverty, disease, hatred, addictions, abuse, crime, pollution, and more. Not just to get better, but too once and for all end!
We’ve suppressed these yearning that arises from our soul, yearnings for a world that inspires hope, creativity, and engagement. What keeps this self-censoring in place is a culture that believes having the kind of world we yearn for is simply not possible.
Fundamentally, it calls for re-envisioning who we are as humans and as Humanity. From our most profound cores, we continue to know the kind of world we want. Let’s discover and create our new, collective story – Heaven on Earth.
How did you get started with bringing spirituality into business?
Martin has a traditional background as a management consultant and speaker. About 25 years ago, he came back from consulting in Hong Kong and found himself in a bit of a funk. He ended up at an Augustinian Monastery and realized what was missing was God. At the time, everybody advised him not to talk about spirituality. He realized that his fear was holding him back and decided to explore the intersection of spirituality and work.
What did you see as some of the results of bringing spirituality into the workplace? Were people happier?
People realized that they could bring into work this part of themselves that they didn’t think they could. They were happier, calmer and excited about being able to talk about spirituality at work.
What does spirituality mean to you? How would you define it?
Martin purposefully doesn’t have a definition. It means different things to different people and he didn’t want to lose his audience by trying to force them to agree to his definition. He wants people to feel they can bring more of their soul into work.
Project Heaven on Earth is very ambitious. So many people are wandering around and wondering what their purpose is. But you ask a much bigger question – what is Humanity's purpose?
Many years ago, Martin read a paper that asked the question – What is the common purpose of Humanity? The idea of Heaven on Earth came just before he was making a keynote speech at a conference. He was meditating and asked himself, ‘If every business is spiritual, is that what you want?’ He realized that if we can transform business, we can transform the world. This formed itself as the idea of Heaven on Earth.
What were your next steps following that thought?
He was in Toronto in the late 80s, running a management consulting company, the first time he heard the word vision. He knew he wanted to talk about it, but everybody told him he was crazy and that no-one would take him seriously. So when he had the concept of Heaven on Earth it concerned him that people might find it controversial.
So project Heaven on Earth lets talk a little about what that is.
He many people and distilled down these 3 questions:
When he asks these questions, no one ask him -what do you mean by Heaven on Earth. He believes this is because we all have within us a knowledge of what Heaven on Earth is.
If one person believes from their soul that something is right and someone else believes that something else is right, how do you work through that? To create more Heaven on Earth?
For many years Martin led dialogues with opposing parties. They would come in ready for a fight and then through good dialogue processes they started to find some overlap. One of the roadblocks that comes up in a highly polarised time is ‘they are not with me.’
You talk a lot about belief
People think ‘In order to do something you have to believe that you can do it. In order for someone to do X, they need to believe they can do X.’ They can either wait for the belief to come or they can set the goal lower so the belief is not needed. Martin thinks that belief is not necessary to accomplish something. He asks the question – Have you or anybody you know done something that they didn’t believe was possible for them to do? Everybody says yes because belief isn’t necessary.
What you’re saying is take action even if you don’t believe it’s possible?
You also have to make a commitment. For example, someone wants to end hunger in the world but doesn’t believe it is possible. The commitment is the end of hunger and the belief is that it’s not possible. The belief could stop them which would be justifiable. Or they could say I’m working on ending hunger and I have a belief that it’s not possible. The belief is there in both cases but in one there is stoppage and in the other there is action.
You tell a story about running a marathon. You’d only run 5 miles and you signed up for a marathon. It sounds like you didn’t really train for it?
His friends encouraged him to sign up for a marathon and the most he’d ever run was 5 miles. To this day he doesn’t believe that he did it. But he did.
There’s this messaging in the personal development world that you have to believe it to see it. But you’re saying that’s not always true. Somebody didn’t run the 4minute mile until they did.
Shortly after Roger Bannister ran the 4-minute mile, other people achieved this too. He broke the belief that it couldn’t be done.
What are some conversational tools you can use to bridge gaps?
When Martin has a fight with his wife the essence of it is always – you’re right and I’m wrong. They’ve been together long enough that they can recognize what is happening and go into separate rooms for a moment. When they come back together, everything is fine. The key is to break the pattern.
How long did it take you to write the book?
25 years. He needed to get clear about certain things before he could write it. It was tough. Martin doesn’t like writing. He likes the results but he doesn’t like the actual writing.
How would you describe your younger self?
Martin was a kid who loved to play. He still has a playfulness about him. As a child, he knew he was here to change the world. It was very clear to him.
How do you play?
He does a form of printmaking called monotype. He loves playing with children and making jokes with his wife. He’s become fascinated by comedy and has been watching a lot of Martin Short and Jerry Lewis.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Follow your passion. Follow what is true for you. And when people say you can’t do that, it forces you to look and see if your truth is still your truth.
Project Heaven on Earth