A home for the Conscious Business community in the UK

So what's it all for?


I heard someone ask me today what all this conscious business stuff is about. So here goes.

Business is great. It’s a very powerful force. It’s great at harnessing creativity and innovation, but mainly it’s good at getting things done. While governments and non-governmental agencies alike plan and develop policy, business has usually finished the first activity and is on to the next one.

And we are in a hurry. We have a lot of problems in the world. Poverty. Hunger. Disease. Climate change. Loss of bio-diversity. Desertification. War. Nuclear proliferation.

All of these threats are coming closer. And many are getting worse as, for example, population grows.

Business can’t solve all those problems but it can contribute to solutions for many. Especially when we need new, radical solutions that haven’t been tried before, the unique structure of business allows their creation and rapid deployment on a large scale.

Even small business can seed changes elsewhere, by setting an example or by being a catalyst.

The problem with business is that for too long the people running it have had the wrong goals. If your goal is financial, and you work at it hard enough, and diligently enough, you are likely to achieve a financial goal. While neglecting other more useful goals – such as addressing the threats listed above.

So, the question is: “How do we get at least some of the people running business to adopt other, more beneficial goals?”

Forcing them won’t work. These are very independent-minded people.

Luckily, however,  I believe people evolved with a set of values that are constructive not destructive. The natural state for people is to select goals that will put back good things into the world, for all of humanity.

All that has to happen is for us all to become more conscious.

More conscious of more than just our material drives – in fact, conscious of what drives us mind, body and soul. As we become more conscious of our deeper values, then we will start to work towards them.

More conscious of our individual contribution to the results we create.

Many of us don’t believe that we have much influence on what happens in the world. So then it’s rational to let it just go to hell. But we all do have that influence, and once we realise that then the sky’s the limit.

Many of us believe that others need to be told what to do. And we don’t understand that this approach itself creates unsustainable solutions. Nothing that is enforced will last. The only things that last are those that are created together by those who benefit.

And more conscious of what holds us back and limits our influence. Many of us are ‘hungry ghosts’ – we carry around past emotional pain that makes us greedy, envious, jealous, addicted, obsessed, and compulsive.

Becoming more conscious of this pain, while usually a painful process in itself, is a good way to reduce or even remove its power.

So, as we become more conscious, we do more of the right things, more often. And that’s what all of us need. Now in and in the future.

Simple as that really.

Author: Pete Burden

New ways to organise and lead - for people with 'purpose' #leadership #inquiry #noticing #complexity #communication

5 thoughts on “So what's it all for?

  1. I agree that most of us are hungry ghosts and that you cannot force others to become more conscious, however, I don’t see the consciousness of society in America evolving too quickly. And I don’t see how business can help expand society’s consciousness. The goals and demands of industry often run counter to environmental interests. It wasn’t until the government stepped in that real changes began to happen in that regard. Of course, because there was so much (and still is) resistance to the government changing the playing field in order to force industry to take an interests in sustainability and the health of nature and consequently humans, the actions of the government are not enough. For a timely example, consider the health insurance industry. They’re in it for the money. They don’t care about helping you, they want to deny your claim. (need I mention the banking and investment problems?) I’m all for raising awareness and practicing meditation, but I don’t see how business and industry can help without outside intervention limiting what they can or cannot do.

  2. Many thanks for the comment.

    Maybe you’re right. I certainly agree that government and non-governmental agencies have an important role in all this.

    I suppose you’d agree that business sometimes resists regulatory change by government? What I am talking about is reducing that resistance.

    I believe that would be a natural consequence of people working in business becoming more conscious.

    As people become more conscious of themselves, I think they become more conscious of the complexity of their motivation. And I believe all of us, while we sometimes succumb to greed for example, also want to do the right thing deep down.

  3. Pete, I find your comments inspirational and motivating. But more than that, I am continually finding evidence of what you are describing – as a business coach, as a therapist and as a member of my community. As our faith in the government’s role as ‘our saviour’ crumbles, I am struck by the process that seems to be in motion. At first it seemed to leave me, and others, overwhelmed with a sense of doom, occassionally feeling angry and wanting to lay all the responsibility for the situation with someone/somewhere else. But this has been replaced with a more adult response. Now I no longer expect powerful institutions to fix it. I agree with Goodoldneon – they won’t, or at least not until we make it impossible for them to ignore.

    So what is left? Firstly, I am taking responsibilty for the part I played in all of it – from the ecological problem to the western world consumerist greed that led to it. This is deeply uncomfortable but it clarifies the steps required to address the issues. If what I did contributed to this doom, then I owe it to myself, and particularly to my children to change my behaviour. Mothers, schools and businesses are changing the way that we behave – from recycling in the home to choosing second-hand goods to insulating our homes. People are buying organic and growing food at home. We refuse to buy goods produced by slave labout. The growth of the ‘transition towns’ movement is informing and influencing communities. Our day-to-day choices are not just about our immediate satiation.

    Business is changing too. The ones that I work with are run by young people who really care. Getting rich ASAP is not their goal. The greed of the 80’s has been replaced by different values. Sharing information freely on the internet has influenced their thinking. Not everything is for sale. Some things are given away for the good of the many. Social Media and Social Business are not just buzz words – they describe a new way of interacting and influencing corporate choices. Interactive links on corporate websites let the company know when there is a tide of discontent. The need for customer retention (particularly in this competitive envirnment) forces change.

    Governments are now linking into social media. Individuals, small and large companies, schools and institutions can respond more immediately to their actions/decisions and let them know what we think. Newspapers are now going to blogging sites to test the pulse of the nation. We don’t have to wait for polls and elections which were always weeks and months after the event, and after the spin!

    Is it too little too late? Maybe. But the only thing to do is to get involved and increase the numbers that are demanding change. It starts with the indivdual. ‘Concious business’ describes a process that starts with the individual who is willing to make a difference. What’s the alternative?

  4. Hi Pete,

    Thought provoking stuff as usual. It is very exciting running and developing a business and very demanding. Sometimes it can be reward in itself to get companies to support your ideas. When this happens ie they sign up to your campaign or programme, the team is over the moon and you get a sense of progress. But I’m not sure how as a business we can tackle global issues like poverty, war and nuclear threats. Or at least in any meaningful way. We can of course contribute a percentage of our profits to a cause and inform our clients. That is one way. But I think that Government should play more of a role here and I think that it would be good if they were more open on how our taxes our spent. When you get your tax bill it is not always pleasant! But if you were informed how much you will be contributing to hospitals, schools etc that would be much better and motivating. I think Government has a role to play in incentivising businesses to grow and to increase revenue for the good of society. I think Government should be more accountable and open about how tax money is spent because then you would see the link between your hard work and the impact it is having on society. Also it would make people realise more about how they could potentially influence the spending patterns of Government.

  5. Yes, I like that Justin – especially the bit about people influencing the spending patterns of government more.

    Maybe that’s one way that even small businesses can help tackle these broad global challenges – by acting as catalysts to enhance that communication.

    Improving communication is something that I know is fairly close to your heart!

    Like most people I guess, I sometimes wonder whether what I do can have any impact. But on reflection, I think we truly can contribute – by being examples. As Ghandi famously said “Be the change that you want to see in the world.”

    Who knows, someone else may just follow the example…

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