My transition from Healer to Entrepreneur is a fairly recent one. Even though I’ve been self-employed for two decades, I’ve never considered myself a “business woman.” In fact, I’ve often thought of “business people” as greedy, self-serving, entitled or power-hungry – a clan of Voldemorts in a Harry Potter world.
Last weekend, I participated in a 3-day business retreat with 80 entrepreneurs as part of a year-long program of conscious collaboration called the 108 Collective. Never having attended anything like this before, I had no idea what to expect. Little did I know the transformation that was in store for me. I experienced a radical change in perspective and had many ‘a-ha’ moments as I immersed myself in the lessons, conversations and community.
Here are 10 personal myths about business that have shifted for me:
1. Business is rational
I use to think that business was a left-brained practice of numbers, strategy, and analytics - void of emotion and spirit. I assumed that the better the business, the less human messiness was involved. Conscious business, however, is an expression of soul, a personal journey of growth. It taps into the creativity and meaning-making of the right-brain as much as the statistics of the left. Business is just as irrational and intuitive as it is logical. And sometimes that means thrashing around in our madness until we find clarity again.
2. Business is transactional
By definition, business is about trade, occupation, and enterprise. I assumed that the sole focus should be on the customer or the transaction. In my business, I left my Self out of the equation – and as a result, I started to feel sick, bored and burnt-out. In conscious business, you serve yourself before you serve the other. What kind of life do you want? What are your values and ethos? What will you build that will sustain you as much as the ‘other’? Without this focus or awareness, we create empires that destroy us.
3. Business is impersonal
I thought that business decisions were based on money, the market and other impersonal variables. I had heard so many horror stories of professional people sacrificing their health and happiness to meet some crazy, unrealistic deadlines. Conscious business is personal. It cannot be separated from your preferences and values. It’s only as strong and sustainable as you. It’s a reflection of who you are – good and bad – and what you love and what you resist. If your business is not aligned with your life, it’s probably not going to survive.
4. Business is boring
I avoided business because I didn’t want to be trapped in monotony. Like doing times-tables in math class, I thought that business must be dull and repetitive to be effective – I was wrong. Conscious business pushes boundaries and thrives on the cutting edge of thought. It is creative, dynamic, revolutionary, challenging and, most of all, fun. Business that evolves and changes is much more successful than static business. In fact, business that stays the same often dies a slow painful death. If your business isn’t inspiring you, then you’re probably not doing it right.
5. Business is linear
I assumed that business was supposed to grow like a line graph, a steady climb to a mountain summit. I thought that you made that ascent by following instructions, like the white-sheet papers in an IKEA box. Business is anything but stable and predictable. It’s organic, alive and subject to swift changes like the weather. Business also move in circles as it goes through cycles of life, death and rebirth. The lack of predictability and steadiness makes business a fascinating puzzle that constantly needs to be assembled and reassembled as it evolves.
6. Business is self-serving
I thought that business served the interests of the stakeholders – regardless of how it impacted the environment or the less fortunate. With the widening gap between rich and poor, I assumed that business was based on scarcity and the goal was to grab as much as you could before there was nothing left a.k.a. every man for himself. Conscious business serves a greater good and protects high ideals. It believes in a world where there is more than enough for everyone. It trusts that a rising tide lifts all and prosperity is better when it’s shared.
7. Business is destructive
Pollution, deforestation, sweat factories, child labor – these were some of the many visions that came to mind when I thought of modern business. I assumed that business had to be destructive in order to keep the economy growing. While this is sadly true for many industries, conscious business also creates solutions. Business builds solar panels, vaccines, and eco-friendly fashion. It also cultivates relationships and communities that enhance a sense of belonging. With the right intention, business can make a better world.
8. Business is manipulative
I have been influenced to buy new clothes, die my hair, and paint my face because of business ads in a beauty magazine. I didn’t really want to do those things, but I did them anyway. I thought that business was devious because of its power over me. But not all business wants to make me feel bad so I will spend money. Conscious business wants to uplift and empower me. It wants to give me tools to transform my life. I know this because I operate a conscious business and I would never create insecurity to make a sale.
9. Business is masculine
I thought business was not only led by men, but built on the masculine ideals of dominance, competitiveness, and independence. I didn’t really think that my feminine, holistic approach would survive in business. I assumed that I had to stay on the “outside,” on the fringe, to avoid compromise and conformity. As it turns out, feminine traits like patience, empathy and intuition are essential for my business. My female ways are not only valuable, they are my best asset.
10. Business is material
Who would have thought that there was so much spirituality in business? Some of the most successful entrepreneurs believe deeply in concepts like serendipity, law of attraction and love. I assumed that business was void of soul because I never saw it advertised on the brochure. Now all I see are conscious business owners coming out of the spiritual closet and wearing their beliefs on their sleeve. It’s so refreshing be surrounded by people who are willing to let their light shine and be a beacon in the world.
It’s ironic that I had these assumptions, given the fact that I’ve always struggled against the misconceptions surrounding healing arts -- namely that we are “woo-woo people” who think we are doing medicine when we are actually doing magic tricks. The truth is that nothing is all good or all bad. There are no Voldemorts or Harry Potters, no bad entrepreneurs or good healers. The monsters we battle are the beliefs that are holding us back, the self-imposed limitations and the blind-spots in our perspective. Luckily, I have 80 new companions to hold up a mirror to me and help me see the best and worst in my reflection – and give me the push to breakthrough.