Most of us spend a great amount of time and precious life-energy working--whether we are self-employed, work at the local grocery store, or work as an executive at a Fortune 500 company. For those interested in personal growth and transformation, it is a very reasonable question, therefore, to ask: How is my work in the world related to my inner journey ...
Are you wondering: Do I have a vision for my life? What am I passionate about? What is my life's purpose? What unique contribution can I bring to the planet at this time? These are the essential questions that each of us ask at some point in our lives. How can we use the skills, talents, and interests that we have been ...
The topics of money, abundance, and manifestation are intimately tied to our ideas about who we are and our perception of reality, and are intertwined at the deepest levels with the work that we do. Many of us are convinced that having more money (or more things) will bring an infusion of meaning, purpose, and fulfillment into our lives. ...
Most of us spend a great amount of time and precious life-energy working--whether we are self-employed, work at the local grocery store, or work as an executive at a Fortune 500 company. For those interested in personal growth and transformation, it is a very reasonable question, therefore, to ask: How is my work in the world related to my inner journey, if at all? Is my work an integral aspect of my spiritual development? Or do I feel a deep sense of separation between my work life and my spiritual life? Can work actually serve as a conduit for my own inner evolution? How can I bring conscious awareness into my work life so that my work becomes another vehicle--as prayer, meditation, therapy, or healing--for the awakening process?
Being conscious at work, explains Fred Kofman, author of the landmark Conscious Business: How to Build Value through Values (Sounds True, 2006), means "shining awareness on every area of your work: in recognizing the needs of others and expressing your own, in seeing the hidden emotional obstacles that may be holding your team back, in making good decisions under pressure, and even in delving into such ‘spiritual'questions as ‘Who am I?'and ‘What is my real purpose here?'"
To be conscious means to be awake, mindful. To live consciously means to be open to perceiving the world around and within us, to understand our circumstances, and to decide how to respond to them in ways that honor our needs, values, and goals. To be unconscious is to be asleep, mindless. To live unconsciously means to be driven by instincts and habitual patterns.
In Buddhist tradition, there is the concept of "right livelihood"--the fifth of eight steps on the Buddha's guide to wise and compassionate living. The term originally referred to refraining from engaging in professions that caused direct harm to others, such as dealing in weapons, poisons, or slaves. In modern times, right livelihood is viewed in a more comprehensive way, referring to how our work life can in fact serve as a transformative path to awareness, awakening, compassion, and love.
The basic idea behind right livelihood is that of interconnectedness. Each action that we take has a direct or indirect influence on ourselves, others, and the world. The way we spend our time and precious life energy matters. Because we give so much of ourselves to issues concerning work and career, it is important that we use this time and energy wisely, with awareness, and in a way that imbues our world with truth, beauty, and grace.
The term "conscious business" has appeared over the last two decades referring to the transcending of business as usual (i.e., with exclusive concern given to bottom-line profits and the increase in pay and power to executives) and moving toward conducting business according to a higher and more inclusive purpose. The term, and the field today, is also concerned with how each of us, as individuals, can become more aware of ourselves in our work lives: how our actions affect ourselves and others, how we can find more meaning in our work, and how ultimately we can be more effective in our jobs.
As the field of conscious business began to emerge, two main concepts came to the forefront. First and foremost, a conscious business, or conscious work of any kind, would "do no harm." That is, the product or service produced by the company should not be intrinsically harmful to human beings or to the environment. This is not to say that a business that produces some level of pollution, for example, cannot be a "conscious" business. Rather, it refers to an awareness by the company of its effect on the planet, and the taking of active steps to reduce any harmful effects. It is more about awareness and action than it is blame or perfection-seeking.
The second major concept that began to emerge was the idea of the "triple bottom line." In a conventional business, primary focus and almost all efforts are placed upon the bottom line (i.e., company profitability). Consequently, a "successful" business was one that was profitable. Profit, of course, remains one aspect of the triple bottom line because without profits, a company cannot continue. The triple bottom line, however, adds two additional components for measuring success--"people" and "planet."
In terms of people, a conscious business seeks to benefit both the external livelihoods as well as the internal lives of its shareholders and employees. Furthermore, the business seeks to benefit all stakeholders, including manufacturers, distributors, affected communities, and humanity at large. Creating a sustainable culture that is concerned with the well-being of all is the hallmark of a conscious business.
Further, a conscious business seeks to minimize its impact on the environment and to replenish the environment where it is able. From robust recycling programs to "green" and "zero-impact" workplace facilities to using solar and wind to power offices, there are many ways a business can honor the planet aspect of the triple bottom line.
According to the Conscious Business Alliance, conscious business is based on three core principles:
"The whole corporate social responsibility idea is trying to graft something onto the old profit maximization model. What we need is a transformation. The way we think about business, what it's based on. People want businesses to do good in the world. It's that simple. . . . We need a deeper, fundamental reform in the essence of business."
--John Mackey, chairman and CEO, Whole Foods Market and cofounder, Conscious Capitalism, Inc.
"When the dust settles from this Armageddon, the only companies left standing are going to be the ones that stand for something that improves people's lives."
--Roy Spence, CEO, GSD&M Idea City and coauthor, It's Not What You Sell, It's What You Stand For.
"We need red blood cells to live (the same way a business needs profits to live), but the purpose of life is not to make red blood cells (the same way the purpose of business is not to exist to make profits)."
--Ed Freeman, originator of the stakeholder management model
"The market has spoken. The debate is over. Consumers care and you have to worry about it. . . . In companies that have really strong brands, you don't know where the commercial part ends and the conscience, giving part begins. In the best companies it all sort of flows together and it comes together and is represented in what that company stands for. Everything is morphing and everything communicates. And one of the things that communicates most strongly right now is the conscience of organizations."
--Shelly Lazarus, chairman, Ogilvy & MatherThe following video clips include Tami Simon, publisher of Sounds True, discussing a variety of aspects of Conscious Business and Conscious Capitalism.
The Global Oneness Project interview with Tami Simon on Transparent Businesses and Conscious Capitalism (2:31): www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-rv_7emTqg
Integral Institute Seminar on Integral Business-- part of a discussion between Ken Wilber and Tami Simon (9:25) "Mixing Business and Pleasure": www.youtube.com/watch?v=YL3JuAC40YA
We invite you to explore the articles, exercises, and other resources in our Consciousness at Work section with the hope that they will help to enrich your work life and the level of contribution and fulfillment you are able to bring forth.