Why You Do What You Do
When mindfulness becomes your default way of living life, you naturally become more caring and benevolent (kind), having become more compassionate. You become more compassionate because you are more aware of others, and since you are less inclined to be judgemental, you see opportunities to serve. Since this enhanced compassion also includes you, you seek to strike a balance between serving others while being self-honouring. You become more comfortable with being able to say ‘no’, with compassion and without guilt.
Ok, so how does this translate to business? I like the Zen adage,’Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water’. This suggests that ultimately the behaviour doesn’t change, what you do is essentially the same. So what does change? What makes enlightenment so special? It’s the why! In business, that translates to why are you in your chosen career? Why are you in your business? Why do you do the job that you do? There are many catalysts that sees you ending up in your particular line of work, but motives narrow when you consider why you stay in your job/business.
I was a natural health professional. I chose that career because of childhood exposure to natural therapies and because it was where I perceived I could establish a sense of my worth. With time, and the need to live in the world, it became my source of income. I recall one particular day when I realised I had transitioned from an emotional motive to a practical motive. Clients became a dollar amount, a way of paying my mortgage etc. My work could be habitually delivered. I was not mindful. It was also the point where business almost faltered! I walked into my practice one Monday morning and I had 1 client booked for the week.
This was in stark contrast to several years later, when my wife at the time, overheard several women in a shopping centre talking about me. The key point of discussion was my capacity to really listen. At this point in my career I was treating 125 people a week. The delivery of a hands-on technique was no different (chop wood, carry water) but how I did it changed. In 1995, in the USA, the National Institutes of Health wanted to know why health consumers were spending as much on complementary health consultations as they were with GPs. The top two responses were ‘time’ and ‘listening’.
In the context of any relationship, when you spend time with someone and really listen, they feel loved, they feel important. Think back to your childhood. Who holds your fondest memory? I can confidently suggest it was someone who spent time with you and who really listened to you.
These are the behaviours of someone who is compassionate and benevolent. This is what naturally emerges as you become more mindful. Service in business shifts from providing just goods and services, to providing them with a real appreciation for who the person is that is seeking your goods and services. It’s seeing the goods and services that you provide in the context of your community, both at a local level, as well as their impact globally.
In my practice, that meant responding to those in need who couldn’t afford my services. On doing a review of my client demographics, it was bought to my attention that 20% of my work was pro bono. Regardless, I had a thriving practice. I didn’t even realise that was happening to that extent. It never changed. I became actively involved in my professional association, in terms of leadership, education and fundraising. This was the global impact of how I turned up in the world. This was contributing in a way that went beyond my local community.
There was one place where I was less than mindful during this time, and that was with my family. I was away from my home way too much. The listening that I afforded my clients was not as evident in the listening I extended at home. As someone once said, ‘No other success compensates for failure in the home’. I wrote about the narrative in the last blog, and mine lead me to seek recognition socially and professionally. I was involved in leadership in Scouting, the school the church and my profession. Between a successful practice and that degree of community involvement, something had to give. It was my family.
With expanded awareness and commitment to living mindfully I have been able to bring healing salve to my family relationships. Being mindful in business, is a whole of life commitment, not one limited to the workplace. I recall a Disney cartoon from my childhood that depicted Goofy in his job, wearing a white lab coat, being mild mannered. At the end of his work day, taking off his white lab coat, he turned into a wild looking, demon Goofy, more pronounced when he got into the traffic, driving home.
Your ‘why’ for doing business will determine your ‘how’. The more conscious of your why, the more your how will include awareness and mindfulness.
This Weeks Video
Read More From This Series