Entering the business world immediately upon my completion of college in 1990 I had all the energy and vigor of any young up and coming ‘Whippersnapper’ as some would have dubbed me at the time. I was full of passion and vision, a giant amount yet to learn about both the business world and myself, and yet not the time or the inclination to explore either my underlying purpose in life or the purpose of doing business as it pertained to my life. Yet, I do not think my initiation was much unlike most young people of that era.
The journey to my present energy towards my work has been a long one, or so it has seemed, and yet in the past 21 years I have come full circle from my early days of passion and vision, back to the same place, only now with a sense of an underlying philosophy, value system and approach that would have been beyond my reach in my early days.
While I’m back doing similar work today as I started out doing 21 years ago, with this long interlude in between of learning growing, experiencing and making lots of mistakes, the simple difference is that I have answers to certain fundamental questions and a full sense of confidence and adherence to those questions and the values they represent. 21 years ago, I had not even a sense of what the questions were, much less the answers.
In short, the questions are, what is my purpose in life, how does my professional life fit with my purpose in life, and what are the relationships between the two. While these questions seem obvious in their importance, the journey of any individual to understand their unique purpose in life is not as easy and self evident as it may seem.
Case in point, if you had asked me 20 years ago what my purpose in life was I would have rattled off a quick, and probably reasonably good sounding answer without hesitation, yet it would not have been completely true or sincere, and it’s been the journey of the past 20 years which has taught me, at times gently and at times painfully, what I’m really about.
On a personal level, my primary purpose in life is my spirituality; a constant evolution in spiritual, emotional and energetic development, and of this I am completely clear. In addition I have come to embrace the value system of practicing my spirituality and the values it contains in all my affairs; personal, familial, community and business. Which is not to say that I get it right all the time in every aspect of my life, rather to say that it’s what I strive for on a daily basis.
As this pertains to my business life, I have come to the knowing that my purpose in business is first to generate a livelihood for myself and my family, and with the ability to provide help and support to my relations and community when necessary, and to achieve this livelihood through helping others achieve the same thing. I have also come to the knowing that how I generate a livelihood is equally as important as doing so.
It is therefore the “how” of generating a livelihood that is the focus of this blog and of all that I do in the process of writing and consulting.
Within my practice of spirituality and its applicability to work, there is a strong and compelling component of constantly striving for greater balance in life. As I have progressed through the years, this component has become one of the most important in my process, as it relates to every aspect of my life. We are all familiar with the euphemistic ‘work-life balance’ equation, and while it means different things to different people, it is clearly of high importance to most.
In my thought process and emotional relationship to work it has become a central theme as well as the primary impetus for launching Balanced Is, and the formation of its vision and strategy.
Balance in work is most obviously a balance of the amount of time spent working with the amount of quality time spent with family, time for self, time for exercise and health, leisure, community, social, spiritual and religious practices, etc. Yet, it is also a balance of ethics held to be important in relation to one’s business practices.
For example, the driving force behind the business community in the developed world for the past 50 years has clearly been profitability and growth, yet placing profitability as the primary objective very often subverts the ethical nature of our business practices in both subtle and overt ways. As much as we try and convince ourselves otherwise, this has become self-evident.
Which is not to mean that all of us are rotten immoral capitalist at the core, rather to suggest that there is often a fine line distinction between our drive for profitability and the strength of our value systems. This topic alone will undoubtedly become the focus of a future blog and discussion, yet suffice it to say that profitability alone creates imbalance.
Balance can also relate to the ways in which we communicate and interact with people; clients, employees, coworkers, and superiors. The energy behind our words, when in conflict with the meaning of the words themselves, creates confusion and distrust. Many times people will hear the words, but not feel right about them. They may not even be aware of why they do not feel right about them, only that something seems a little bit off, and therefore creating minor levels of imbalance, which taken together with the continuation of a modus operandi of insincere communication can create a cesspool of distrust, water cooler gossip and politics.
Balance can also represent subtle shifts in our approach, almost imperceptible shifts to the observer, yet important in brining all our actions in alignment with our business strategy. Balance very often times represents shifts in our attitudes; changing our thinking can change outcomes with seemingly little effort.
Balance can literally relate to all levels of doing business, in every industry, in every community, in every interaction, in our minds, in our hearts and in our intentions. It is therefore of paramount importance that it become a central focus of our work, as it is my firm belief that only through a careful process of self discovery in relation to our work and balance in life, that we can heal relationships, engender greater trust and clarity, cultivate teams of people that feel genuinely good about their jobs and the work they do, build loyalty with clients, move towards increasingly more sustainable business practices, build longevity and come to a place of enjoyment and wonder towards our work – the business of generating livelihood.