What does it mean to create a spiritual business? How is it different from a traditional company? And what makes me believe that we’re in a time where spiritual business is on the rise?
Before I answer the three questions, let me first share with you my story.
If you’ve read my background, you would know that I have a master degree in “Management of Innovation and Business Development.” It was many years ago, and the knowledge and the training I got from the degree was very traditional. Social business or sustainable business wasn’t on the curriculum. In fact, even Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) was also a new course and the learning I gained from it wasn’t deep and profound. So basically, I learned everything about market segmentation, branding, marketing, financial management, innovation and business development, etc. I had a traditional career after my graduation, and all was “good” until the end of 2009.
At that time I was working for a small Danish company that developed online education for children. I was their business developer where my primary task was to expand their online English program through sponsorships in developing countries. Then came the financial crisis where the company had to lay off more than half of its employees. I was one of them. However, I wasn’t sad by the situation. In fact, I was happy and relieved because, for some time, I have felt that there was something “missing,” and I was supposed to do something else with my life. But like most people, I didn’t dare to quit my job and dive into uncertainty. So when the firing happened, I knew that it was “the push” from the Universe. It was meant to happen, but then what?
I started to volunteer in NGOs both in the US and Denmark. I had a feeling that my business insight would be valuable to the humanitarian field, so I wanted to create a consultancy business with a focus on social entrepreneurship. It didn’t go well financially because my customer group didn’t have financial resources to pay. I ended up volunteering and helping instead of getting paid for the work that I contributed. But it was a valuable experience because it was also the time where I learned about the “backside” of social entrepreneurship (more about it in another post).
2010 was also the year where a dear friend contacted me concerning his Web-TV project, and this was the beginning of my learning about the online media and video production industry. In short, the following five years, I worked in different startups in the field of media. All failed in one way or another. During the process, there were lots of self-doubts and a feeling of whether I, with my soft heart, do “belong” to the business world.
In the beginning, I thought it’s all about skills, that I didn’t have the skills needed to make my businesses successful. So what did I do?
- I learned about sales. I went to different sales courses and even had some personal coaching about how to approach new customers and make a deal. I was terrible at it. It wasn’t my cup of tea!
- Maybe I needed to learn to network better? So I joined different networking events (speed networking, anyone?). I hated it. Been there, done that!
- I got mentors. Just a few. They were all lovely people, and their skills and expertise were needed; only if what I wanted was really about running a “normal” business.
It wasn’t until end of 2015 where I had to end a project, lost money and had a partner who turned out not to be trustworthy after all, that I realized I was missing something. I closed down my business, went utterly offline and used the time to dive deeper into myself to find answers to questions that I couldn’t even formulate. It was also the time where I had to look at my life from a Wholeness perspective. With patience, (a lot of it), a sense of knowing began to emerge in me. What is the answer then?
I learned that I was never meant to create and run a traditional business. The skills that I acquired from business school, it was no longer applicable to me when everything happens so fast spiritually. My business was a reflection of my spiritual development, and it was up to me to create a new pathway of how to develop a spiritual business!
After my realization, I went to look for evidence that this kind of business exists. As always, the Universe provides the answer I was looking for, and I was led to the book “Reinventing Organizations” by Frederic Laloux. I bought it immediately, and never did I read a management book that fast. When I read about “Evolutionary Purpose” and how the organizations in the book operate from the perspective of “Wholeness,” I knew that I had “come home.” This is the reasons why I couldn’t quit the business world. I feel deeply that I’m meant to create a new type of business where my spiritual experiences and wisdom can be integrated with my traditional business skills. And by merging these two spaces, a third one is being born as spiritual business model.
So, what does it mean to create a spiritual business, and how is it different than a traditional one? For me, there are many differences, but in this post, I would like to write about three (as also mentioned in the “Reinventing Organizations” book but what I share with you now is based on my personal experiences):
- The urge of creating a business comes from an Evolutionary Impulse where it’s about us being called to service. Who we are; our personality, skills, and resources, etc. are being used to serve the Universal Will.
- We may be the boss and in charge, but it’s not the same as being in control. It requires new skills such as empathic listening, to the people who are working with us but also to the guidance of the Universe. Intuition is the “true leader” here.
- Wholeness is the new way of being and operating. It’s not only about building a sustainable business model, but it’s also about the depth where the spiritual dimension is honored, cultivated and practiced for everyone in the organization.
Therefore the “old” tools of business management don’t work anymore. Learning to be comfortable with “the Unknown” is the key to success in spiritual business. Life is not linear. Therefore, the tools like “business plan,” “5 year’s strategy”, “budget planning” etc. are not applicable as the current of life is shifting or will shift unpredictably. Business and Life are not separated. Everything connects and is part of Life Cycles. Click To Tweet
To answer my last question, what makes me believe that spiritual business is on the rise? It is because of this:
Life, as manifested right now and as most people are living at the moment, is no longer sustainable. We use and exploit more resources than the Earth can regenerate. We have gone far out to the extreme where the Balanced cycle of Life is out of alignment. If humanity wants to survive and thrive, businesses have to develop in such a way where Wholeness and Balance are the drivers. If we don’t work from a Wholeness perspective, we will end up creating a business that solves problems in one area but creates externalities in other areas. If we don’t work to bring more Balance into this world, the Earth herself will find ways to make this happen (you know what I mean). As a result, Wholeness and Balance are essential for the survival of Humanity. The fact that more people are waking up spiritually, I believe that these people will also find ways to shift the trajectory of our current development by applying spiritual principles into their work.
Spiritual business has to be on the rise because it will be one of the solutions to our problems. It will allow us to solve societal challenges from a higher level of awareness and not from the same old level of consciousness that created the problems in the first place. The interesting question is then whether our learning from the experiences of running a spiritual business can be diffused into the mainstream before it’s too late so that the impact can be more significant and profound?
Only time will tell.
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