Business As Is
This is one of a few posts I have been dreading writing.
I generally prefer to keep my thoughts (and thus, my writing) in a flowing state with what is instead of getting caught up in my stories. I share through honest reflection on my life and what I experience. I know that this is a truth -a story - of mine that I feel called to share.
Please forgive the wordiness.
Why So Anxious?
First, allow me to get it out in the open why I am afraid: I want to be understood and liked. I know, pretty basic wants, eh? I've not heard anyone say, "I'd rather be misunderstood and hated." However common, it is a fear that hinders me in many of my daily actions and responses.
In particular, I don't want to be seen as an over-privileged American who claims to share "universal" truths that someone who struggles more than I to attain basic security (financial, shelter, food or water) would scoff at.
I do not want to push some "truth" that adhering to ones' values should always come before financial gain to someone who is 3 months past due on their mortgage and about to lose their home. I do not want to advocate walking or running as a vital component of a healthy lifestyle to someone suffering from physical ailments or loss of limbs for whom even making it to the bathroom is a challenge. I do not want to convince someone who is the breadwinner of their home, for their family and children, that it is best to quit your job if your life is being sucked from you at work nor do I want to shout that organic food is the only way to go to someone who doesn't even know if they will be getting their next meal.
I See You.
As a very privileged American woman, I acknowledge my fortunes. And I want to say first and foremost to every single being that while I may not be able to fully understand your situation,
I see you.
Yes, I am a "stay-at-home" mother who enjoys comforts of a soft bed, dining out frequently, and not fearing that I will lose my home due to money (most months). Acknowledging the majority of my readers who work full time outside their home, own their own business, support their children or partners financially or through their time and dedicated attention, create e-courses or e-books or an e-presence, who play some part in "the business world"....first, please, let me share: I see you.
(I share the sentiment, "Namaste" quite frequently now - which is one way of acknowledging that I see the deeper, beautiful you - including and outside of your stories.)
Butterflies dancing and fingers shaking, knowing that I am taking the hand that feeds me and yet not quite biting down, I continue.
Business As Is
I am tired of business. Sick of it. I am tired of the paradigm, the world-view, that claims that the way we do business is an acceptable and sustainable way of being and doing in this world. I really do not like the phrase, "Well, it's just business". It equates to "That's just the way things are". Which equates to "My truth is the only truth there is."
I am tired of reading online and being told offline (no matter how kindly) that there are certain ways things have to be done (i.e. in order to be fulfilled or happy or authentic or successful or to support my family or to get so many followers or a certain online ranking).
I understand reality. I know that we all have bills to pay. I understand the necessity of surviving in the society around us, even if our values differ from that society.
I also understand that every single person with whom I have discussed this feels at least a small spark inside that this isn't working. (I just finished a conversation with my sister that followed exactly this path.) We talk and chat and eventually get to the point of The *SIGH* - you know, the point where there aren't any answers and it feels too hopeless to continue. The point where everything literally gets de-pressing - a heaviness that presses down on the chest and forces the air out in a long, drawn out SIGH.
In order to inhale, we have to push some of those concerns off of our chest (Am I living a fulfilled life? Is my job contributing anything more to my life other than money? Will the earth be around for my great-grandchildren? Can I really do anything about the people dying across the seas) and continue breathing in our own reality.
A Big But
But - and this is a big but (hah) - particularly in business I see that we push away these deeper levels of understanding, that spark, and continue on as we were. We do not keep that spark, our truths, in our awareness. We cannot sit with the discomfort of knowing our actions are in contradiction to sustainable ways of living (for the planet and for humanity). So, because we often cannot change our actions in the moment, we push away the awareness of the contradiction to return to a more comfortable way of living.
Please note: It is not the return to "the way things are" that bothers me as much...it is that purposeful shutting down of awareness and the excuses we create to justify that shut down.
Ironically, I see businesses all around me (and humbly admitting - mine as well) that use the same techniques just with different words. (I do not point to anyone in particular here, just a general memory of what I've run across.) Marketing becomes 'promoting your authentic self', tricks to get more followers becomes 'connecting' with more people ... basically we go about the same unsustainable practices but we feel better about doing them.
I am NOT SAYING this is a bad thing! I recently listened to a podcast on Buddhist Geeks where a business owner stated that in today's world, using marketing, flashy gimmicks, and the like was the "price of admission" to get your deeper message heard by the general public (who are used to only paying attention to the flashy and glitzy).
As with everything else in this post, I just want us to remain non-judgmentally aware of what we are doing and how we are being.
Excuses and Truths
But what I am having trouble accepting any longer are excuses. We have to take responsibility for our awareness. If you participate in the business world (as owner, employee, or consumer), take responsibility for your actions. If you do something that is against your deeper truth, try to acknowledge it, release judgment of yourself, and continue breathing and being. Make it a practice to try acting closer to your truth in the next moment. But never, ever shut down your awareness of that truth. Never, ever let an excuse become a reason and turn into a fact or a "truth".
You may have an excuse for not recycling your trash (i.e. you could but have words to justify why you don't.).
You may have a reason for not recycling your trash (i.e. you live in a rural area where no recycling facilities exist).
But, knowing that what you throw away gets piled up in the earth somewhere and that the earth and humanity simply cannot continue to survive if we continue this practice, Do NOT make it a fact that "I do not recycle." or "Recycling is impossible or just too hard....that's just the way it is".
You may have an excuse for not running your business fully in line with your values (i.e. you probably could do it but you certainly wouldn't make as much money).
You may have a reason for not running your business fully in line with your values (i.e. as noted above, your message is one that would not get heard without the marketing, nor would you have the bank funding without a few "business" practices).
But, knowing that any entity or body operating from a place of separation - us and them, employer and employee, owner and client - is ultimately perpetuating a divided and thus unsustainable way of living*, do NOT make it a fact that "I have to run my business this way" or "In order to survive, my business must come before my values".
(*Note: this is more of a personal spiritual view so I may have lost many of you. I invite you to search your own truths and discover where your business practices differ from your truths/values.)
So What is This Awareness?
In these cases, awareness is knowing what is (the bigger picture and the mundane details of your life), acknowledging your excuses, reasons, and truths, and continuing to act amidst the discomfort of discrepencies. The next step, of course, is acting closer to your truth, your spark (whatever your unique and brilliant truth may be). But let's not stress out about that now. The biggest and perhaps most important step right now is disciplined awareness of your truths.
Living With Discomfort
Life isn't about comfort. Particularly in the culture I know though, we have spent at least a few hundred years pursuing it. Shelters, gadgets, and foods that make us more comfortable are what we create and crave. (Washing Machines, Cars, Twinkies.... mmmm. Twinkies...)
Again, this is not bad. I just feel that we have reached the limits of where a "comfortable" life can take us. We now must embrace the discomfort.
As you become aware of any inner truths that don't match your outer life, there will be discomfort. I feel it is vital (life-sustaining) to be able to be with this discomfort. If you can change your life - your thoughts, your actions, your reactions - to match your inner truths, so much the better. But do not sacrifice the awareness of those truths in order to sink back into comfort and ease.
So Now What?
You know what another of my fears is? Admitting I don't know. Acknowledging that I don't have all of the answers. And yet, that is exactly what I am doing right now.
I feel so deeply that pretending we can keep going like this will eventually destroy us. But I don't have the answers!
This is a deeply personal path. While I know the stories of the earth and how she will not survive if we keep treating her this way, the stories of humanity and how we will not survive if we keep operating from a sense of lack of abundance and greed, I do not know your story.
I do not know what you can and cannot do at this point in your life. I do not know what truths you have discovered about yourself and which remain hidden because you haven't found the time to look. I do not know the practicalities that you face. I do not know if you resonnate with any of this or you feel I'm full of crap. (As part of a practice honoring my self through my language, I'm refraining here from using "shit". Oh shit. I just said shit. Sorry self.)
And Sorry to you if you thought this was going to end in a "how-to".
I didn't share this to provide answers - for you nor for myself. I shared this to increase awareness. To push through my own fear of pissing off any of my business-friends who operate through a different worldview (knowing that neither path is better nor worse). To hopefully connect with at least one other person who feels the same...and perhaps start to work into the answers - or a practice - between us.
To open the conversation.
To remind myself and you that no matter how many business tools there are out there, only we can know our own truth and practice a respect for the truths of others. Only we know, in those moments we allow ourselves to settle into stillness, which discomforts are the fires that will burn away that which is no longer needed and which are smoke alarms telling us to get out.
And that there is no greater pursuit in life than that of our truths.
To help us both move further into awareness - out into Rumi's field beyond "right" and "wrong" - well beyond the city limits of "Just The Way Things Are".
No matter our blessings nor our challenges, no matter the "business" we go about through our days, may we both swim together in this sea of What Is.
And whether you agree with me or not, I bow and offer you a very deep