We are entering a new era, whether we like it or not. People are seeking new ways of being in relationship to each other, whether that relationship is in business, at work, in our service to, in our home, family and friends. However, the path forwards is completely unchartered. There is no model, no outstanding example.
As an observer learner, I am watching many companies who tout that they are conscious businesses fall into a messy heap that is the result of the very same transformations they profess to be transcending, manifesting in their own business, relationships and engagements. The outside might look beautiful and glossy, but inside is a stink hole of incongruence.
Why is this? What is going on?
First, it is important to be clear that we are literally operating between two worlds. The world of the old system, where everything is built around a model of eternal growth, money making, success at all costs, status as measured by your external success, the accumulation of stuff, staff, lists, names, how many books you have written, how many this and that. The endless pull of never enough… This world is seductive, attractive, egophrenic. Like the beautiful siren, it calls us into a trance like state where all of our original impulses are lost. We are so saturated in this world we simply cannot see the extent to which it en-amours us.
And the world we are moving towards, where there is a deep abiding respect (reverence) for the value of people, nature, the environment, in all its shapes and sizes. Where the recognition of abundance is a guiding principle. Where reverence as a business practice is the norm.
Where what is said, is what is done; inside, outside, within the individual and within the group.
Where the choice to move to mastery is a daily practice. Where there is no “there” that is reached, but a deep respect and love for the journey unfolding. Where living in the space of emergence, not knowing what is coming next, or how it will look, is held as normal, and people move within this without the paralysing fear and contraction of needing the security of knowing.
Where value that makes a healthy contribution to the whole is respected and honoured, as value. (And activities that contribute nothing to the whole are seen for what they are, scams.)
I have felt like the cartoon character with one foot on one cliff, and the other foot on the cliff on the other side, and a very large chasm between both legs, my legs in a full split, sweat rolling off my face….between these two worlds, holding tight, feeling the pull of both, needing to take a complete step into the new world…trying desperately to straddle both. I am not alone…many people I suspect feel the same. Straddling between these two worlds.
Why do businesses that set out with the best of intentions, end up in a mess?
What is the original impulse to start the business in the first place? The Pattern Integrity?
Lets get clear about that. If it is to make money, own it. Nothing wrong with that, except when you project to the world that you are doing something else. In other words, be in total truth around that original impulse. Anchor into it. Choose to describe it carefully, as the words you choose will carry with them their own energetics. Your original impulse, if it is clearly articulated and truthful, will energize you. If you are seeking to create a conscious business, then your original impulse will be about service to others, or things outside of your self. If this is not it, then be clear about what it is you hold as the intent. (Becoming famous, making money, getting status, winning the prize, teaching people a lesson, going to IPO….be honest about this, OK?)
If your business has been going for some time and is starting to go pear shaped, then take a weekend off and get together with your foundation team and get back in touch with the original impulse. Get deeply in touch with it. Including the stuff that you have tried to keep hidden, like…”oh and by the way, I would like to show all those jerks you said I would amount to nothing, that they were wrong.” Name it all. Own it all.
Until you have total aligned clarity around your original impulse and it totally rocks your world, your business is likely to implode.
What commonly happens is a company starts with this original impulse/intent, and then if and when the ‘goody bag’ shows up, full of all the sirens of the old world, money, fame, success, ego, long email lists..etc….and through micro agreements, called little atrocities, negotiations are made with that original impulse…nano-bit by nano-bit.
Its called seduction, temptation…and before we know it, we are under a spell, completely disconnected from the truth of why we started the business, completely in denial as to what is going on within the business, now enacting the very same behaviours we are teaching the outside world not to do. It no longer becomes about how we can serve the world with our work, it becomes about some other distraction from the original impulse..like.. list building, where we offer this for free, but we need your email address first…or we write long one page shpeal to people using very seductive language that sucks people into pressing the ‘buy’ button. Oh, and don’t forget that they are getting $976 worth of value for just $99! (Even if the product being sold is great, it is tainted with the energy of con and seduction.)
Integrity and transparency are lost…it has been reduced to a seductive con.
Or…we make the original model we co-created, the ‘this model’, or the ‘that model’, the God, and forget that life is about constant emergence, constant change, and we are now operating our business as a closed system within a fully emergent dynamic Universe. Our way is the right way, and we reduce ourselves to an ‘ism’. Unless you buy/use/live by this model, you are dead/ineffective/not in the club…And in the process, we forget that in a truly integral world, there is never one model, one view, one way. The old model seeks speciality and niches, the new demands being a comprehensivist..or as Bucky Fuller would say, starting with the Universe first.
Or…we make the founder of the business, Guru X. The all knowing, all egoic, “I have all the answers” King of the World. In this space there is no listening, no humility, no openness to other levels of genius from the ‘lowest of the low’, or anyone else for that matter.
And sometimes it is all of these toxic seductions combined..and more..
Then…. poof!!…implosion…something that had the potential to be truly transcendent has gone….literally imploded onto itself.
So tragic…very common. And what is left…people still seeking a place to work and play where the original impulse is honoured, where truth is Truth, and what is said is done, and reverence is afforded all parties, internally and externally….the longing to find a space and place for that to be truly the ground of the business.
People are hungry for this, longing for this…and while there needs to be a clear declaration that in the manifestation of this in the world, perfection will not be achieved, perfection as a goal is imperfect.
Instead, the business will remain in an honest, open, integrous dialogue with all stakeholders, holding the original impulse as sacrosanct, for as long as it serves all stakeholders, really willing to invite wisdom from all domains, and to continue to embody every aspect of what the business stands for, internally and externally.
To do this is not easy. It takes commitment and investment of the highest order. It takes making choices that refuse to compromise the core DNA, the Pattern Integrity of the original impulse.
Clarity, courage and integrity. Rigor, reverence and wisdom. And love.
Few do this. Yet more and more of us seek to engage with companies like this..to buy from them, work with them, learn from them.
*And an FYI…my work is about supporting businesses to maintain their Pattern Integrity. Guiding those who have lost their way back to their Pattern Integrity. Coaching leaders to be able to hold this Pattern Integrity with humility and courage, against the tide.
Published March 2011.