Friday, 21 January 2011

Do Spirituality and Business Mix?

Source copyright: Memes/Wikimedia

Although I have been a coach and consultant for awhile now, it was only yesterday that I really considered the question of whether spirituality and business mix. It took me under an hour to realise that the question is silly - of course they do. All of life is spiritual, even what appears not to be. Business is traditionally understood to be a profit-seeking enterprise, an enterprise that positions and creates situations within the economy to put itself in the flow of money, or green energy. It is the fount of abundance. Spirituality has to do with an understanding and intimate knowing of self, its quirks, foibles and its intrinsic nature. It is the source of peace and happiness, the end of suffering. Now call me silly, but I see nothing wrong in having both. If I'm going to be sitting in a fountain of abundance, I'd like to enjoy it, thank you very much.

Source copyright: Memes/Wikimedia

So let's think about this a little: How does spirituality really involve itself in business? What would we do differently? Is it just fairy dust over harsh reality? Does it even help the business, or does it become an unnecessary burden?

Clearly, the instinctive answer most of humanity has had to that last question is no, that it is inherently separate of business. So, instead of going into into woowoo, let's have a look at that. I had a quick Google on business objectives and this came up:

Let's have a look at how an understanding of spirituality tones and tunes the whole business thing. I will talk mainly about the spiritual side here and italicise each of the words relating to the mind map.

Clarity and Understanding

Being spiritual is being clear. It is about understanding why you are doing something, and that each action is a choice. This is an act of self-empowerment. Why do people engage in business? It is to express this self-empowerment, this individuality. Why do people work for businesses? Because they see it as a means to survive. We do things out of fear, out of greed. If we are really clear, then we can do this from a very empowered state, a state of choice. We are clear that this is our decision, and not what the world has forced on us. Getting out of this victim mentality is the first step to a spiritual life, and it is also the only way one can really be personally satisfied. From this state of choice, personal ethics can arise, and this will reflect into business ethics.

Spiritual Decision-Making

From this clarity, we know why we are doing stuff. We are much more efficient about it. No time is wasted moaning and worrying about situations. We see each situation as it truly is, and are at full liberty to choose the appropriate response. This means seeing what is needed to achieve customer satisfaction, for one thing. Because we are clear about us, we can be clear about them. It stops being an us versus them situation, because we understand us, and then it's a question of how clear or confused they are, and what we want to do about it. We understand their needs and wants because we understand how the human psychology and psychosis works. That's going to help brand loyalty and turnover, too. Because we have clarified our own values, who we are, what we do and what our business does, others can be clear about us too. This is how we develop a brand. Otherwise we're just being incongruent.

The implementation becomes much easier, too. Seeing through their mind, we can see how marketing and sales techniques can be incorporated, with complete integrity, whatever that means for us. When we market, there is no fear about where the next sale comes from. We have evaluated the situation in clarity, we have chosen our response, and we can implement our decision. It either works or it doesn't. If it does, great. If it doesn't, we can remain clear and efficient about it and go back to the drawing board. No time is lost on self-pity, or on useless wringing of wrists.

Psychological Comfort, Adversity and Being

So we have become clear, clarified our values, made our decisions, implemented them, corrected them and implemented them again, only better. All in a very clean and efficient way. This is a spiritual post, but it occurs to me that those are all words which would get the average entrepreneur or businessman excited. The spiritual component has one advantage the alternative doesn't - spiritual comfort. If you have an image of austerities, of Shaolin monk discipline and the beating of breasts when you think of spirituality, try thinking instead of the Laughing Buddha. I am not saying that business is not austere - the very nature of life can be austere, and that is quite enough, thank you. Our job is not to make it seem even more harsh. We meet it with spiritual compassion and grace. And enjoy ourselves, by heck. In no tradition that I know of did God of whatever understanding say "Thou shalt face a difficult life, and then confuse thyselves to make it more difficult. And maketh sure thou really suffer!"

We learn how to enjoy ourselves. To be appreciative, and to be grateful. We learn to be meek, and realise that reality is such, and always wins, no matter what we want. This is ultimate humility - to do the ultimate prostration before God. And once we realise this is our spiritual place, we can start to enjoy it. It is a huge burden off our shoulders. All the guilt, all the fear, all the worry. You know what? It wasn't my problem after all. It was God's business. And if it isn't, I'll make it His business. He, in all His Glory, can manage THAT can of worms.

So when businesses turn bad, and when things seem to fail, and they do, although the average marketing course would have you turn your eyes away from that fact, you are still unshakeably at peace. You are still doing what needs to be done. The rest is reality. No story arises in your mind that it should be this, that or the other. You can simply smile amd move on. It is the end of attachment. Or, if something arises that needs to be done, you can do it. You have created true business resilience.

Personal Self-Realisation and Transformation

So we develop the understanding of the self and the soul. We see that our "self" is very fluid, very liquid. This means that we are locked into a whole journey of self-discovery through business. This turns it into the vehicle of our enlightenment. How? Pain and suffering only arises when there is attachment. If we are to be self-realised, then we must first identify our attachments. Yes, sitting meditation could probably do it, but that is not the only way. We use our experiences as the direct catalyst. When there is pain, by deduction there is attachment, and then we become the cat who goes mouse-hunting. Time to find that sticky, vulnerable part of us that goes hiding. Adversity becomes very useful for this. In fact, if we're not careful, we can become enlightened.

As we become more and more open, we can become whoever we want to be, as the situation calls for. This is not being two-faced. It is being efficient, and if you've been reading with any degree of attention, you'll have become aware that spirituality is deadly efficient. You are no longer bound by norms you are not choosing to be bound by. So, you can manifest any personality type to deal with any situation. Will it be perfect? Probably not. Will it be easier than before? Almost certainly. You can transcend how you were taught to be, and so become what you choose, realising at the same time that even that is not you, that ultimate and innate peace comes from within. And the business becomes a place to be enlightened. AND make more money. Sounds like a good proposition to me.

Monday, 10 January 2011

A Miracle by Grandmaster Wong

Well, well, well. Some days it really pays to be on the good side of Grandmaster Wong. As some of you will know, I have just made the trip from London to Malaysia. The first night I slept more than twelve hours. Tonight I awoke at about 4.30 am. With nothing better to do, I decided to do my homework and practice some qigong meditation.

In Spring Forest Qigong style, I called upon my master's energy and meditated. What goes on when I'm in hocus pocus mode is for me to know and for you to find out. However, mid-meditation, which turned out to be a learning meditation, I felt a pang of regret that a notebook I had written containing nearly one hundred techniques to be potentially released to my students had disappeared.

For those not in the know - I had an epiphany a few months back and started to consolidate everything I had learnt in the industry into a "few" (if you knew me you wouldn't be surprised - I believe I'm past the hundred and twenty mark now in notebook 2) techniques. Things that had no place before integrated into very simple and elegant techniques. I completed notebook 1 and have been writing notebook 2. When I was packing for Malaysia, notebook 1 went missing. I simply couldn't find it. Finally, I shrugged and simply packed notebook 2 for the journey. Maybe the techniques weren't supposed to be released after all. Non-attachment, right?

Flash back to this morning and my pang of regret. I was just contemplating the missing notebook when Grandmaster Wong indicated I should look in my backpack. I was certain I had checked it when I packed it, and it was now jammed full of documents and notebook 2. So half-believing (I really should know better by now) I turned over in the bed and reached, in the dark, into my backpack. My hands found a lump of paper which did not seem like the usual documents. I prodded. And fished out notebook 1.

Some days the hocus pocus gets even me.