How Business Can Be a Spiritual Practice
For years I steered away from business. When I went to college I thought it was the last thing I would ever want to study, let alone work in. I was interested in the soul life, the spiritual life. So I poured on the courses that fed that as much as possible. From Psychology, to Literature, to Art, and Philosophy, I wanted to immerse myself as much as I could in what the meaning of life was. How could I live a life with more meaning, with more soul? How could I dedicate myself to helping improve the lives of others? How could I make a change in the world?
These are the questions that drive me.
Throughout college and graduate school I worked at non-profits. I looked for organizations that were serving communities like the one I grew up in. As an undergrad, I mentored young Latino students that were the first in their families to go to college. In graduate school I helped incoming freshmen that had come from some of the toughest backgrounds develop their writing skills so they could succeed in an Ivy-league environment. I had made the leap from being the first person in my family to get a degree to getting a full-paid ride to an Ivy-league PhD. I knew how much of a culture shock it was for these kids coming in, and I wanted to help them as much as possible. I taught ESL to recent immigrants at two non-profits in the local community.
And the whole time I avoided business. More than that I avoided money. I resented people that had it. I thought that to be real meant to live in the struggle. The more you suffer the more you love, right?
It turns out that the more you suffer the less you can do for other people. Five years ago I left the academic world to launch my career as a life coach. I had developed all of these skills on how to help people. Some through my formal education and others through my informal education. Yeah, I studied psychology and I studied spirituality and I studied different coaching modalities, but when it came down to it what really mattered to someone else was if I was willing and able to really be there with them. To really see them.
One time, one of my ESL students stood up and said to me “You know what teacher? You’re different because you see us as human beings (Usted nos ve como gente).” My eyes still tear up every time I think about that.
Who I wasn’t seeing as human beings were the people that were driven to improve their lives and the lives of their loved ones through being successful entrepreneurs.
It wasn’t until years after I started on this path as a life coach that I realized how hard it can be to jump into business for yourself. How much determination, perseverance, and courage it takes to be an entrepreneur. How much easier it is to dismiss money and those we think have it as greedy reptilians.
Well, that shit is just plain nonsense.
You can have all the best intentions in the world, but if you don’t have the means to make those intentions a reality then you are wasting your time.
Business becomes spiritual when it is taken on by spiritual people. People that have a vision that is bigger than themselves. People that have the determination to find a way to help others while making their vision of a better world a tangible reality. In order to be a successful entrepreneur you have to have vision. Your vision has to be crystal clear, scalable, and measurable. Any person that has succeeded at business has had to maintain a focused vision of where their business is going and how it will continue to grow and impact the world. These are the visionary entrepreneurs that have achieved wealth and are doing massive good in the world. As I’ve overcome my judgments, the ones that made me blind to anything but my projection of wealth = lizard people, I have seen how many good people are out there making the world a better, more sustainable place for us all.
Business becomes a spiritual practice when you realize that you can give more of what you have to others because you have it to give. When you grow your business you have a couple of things that can automatically become gifts to the world. One of these things is your time. The more financially successful you are, the more you can decide where your time goes. Now, this is assuming you are working as an entrepreneur: you are setting you own schedule, and maximizing the efficiency of your time (a skill that is essential to succeed as an entrepreneur). You also have experience that you can give. You can help those that are following an entrepreneurial path learn from your experiences and your mistakes. This is a big one for me. I help my clients with this, which in turn allows me to mentor a couple of young people at a time on their entrepreneurial skills. Lastly, you have money to give. Personally, I am a fan of the microlending movement, and I love giving to other small business owners through Kiva.com, a site dedicated to helping small business owners grow all over the world. I encourage you to check it out, find someone you want to help, and give a donation today.
Business becomes spiritual when it takes a conscious stance on issues affecting our world and takes determined action towards resolving these problems. As of 2015, investing in sustainability has grown 929%. This means that as people buy products that are more environmentally and socially conscious, there is a direct response in the actions of large corporations. What you buy influences the direction that these corporations go. At the same time, there are business leaders in these corporations that want to make conscious decisions to continue improving the impacts of their companies. The growth trend towards higher consciousness does not limit itself to the people at the bottom. There is a synergistic response between people’s beliefs, their choices, and the functioning of large-scale groups of people like corporations that are serving the masses.
As I’ve learned more and more about this what I’ve realized is this: this us versus them bullshit has to go. If we can learn to collaborate with each other and set aside our preconceived judgments about money, business, and finance we can grow in tangible ways that will serve us and our communities. I believe that tangible change is in the hands of spiritual entrepreneurs. It is only through bringing together heart, compassion, and empathy with the capital necessary to make tangible things happen that we will change the world. We can fight “the system” until we’re broken, broke and blue in the face, but that isn’t going to change it.
Even if you don’t have much, find someone whose life you can improve today by donating on sites like Kiva.com. Go give. Make a tangible action. That is how we make what is good grow.