Conscious business. Now there’s a term to conjure with.
We’ve had conscious consumerism. So why not something for the other side of the producer/consumer coin: conscious business?
What is it?
What does it mean exactly? Lots of things depending on where you sit.
If you read the wikipedia definition some people are talking about conscious business as if it is a type of business. That is, some businesses are conscious and others aren’t. Just like some businesses are profitable and others aren’t. Or good or bad.
I prefer a more personal approach. I think of it in terms of whether someone who is engaged in business is conscious or not.
Doing business (or anything) consciously is about being aware of what is happening as you do it. Being aware of your thoughts, feelings, needs and motivations. And being aware of what is happening around you too – in other people, and in the world.
(This isn’t “flow“. In flow, as I understand it, consciousness comes and goes. You can be so deeply in flow, so focussed on the task hand that you lose consciousness of what is happening around you.)
What’s it got to do with business?
I am told that many people operate from day-to-day with limited consciousness. And popular business role models seem to encourage this. “Successful” business people are portrayed in the media as single-minded – focussed on only one thing (often money) at the expense of other things (or people).
Intellectual prowess is also much celebrated – at the expense of emotional awareness, for example, although this is starting to change. And the goal is often seen to be more important that the process of achieving it.
For me the process we go through is all important. After all there can be joy, pleasure and learning in the process, as much or more than in the outcome.
Immanuel Kant wrote “Always recognize that human individuals are ends, and do not use them as means to your end.” For me, people, and their development, are the purpose.
All we achieve in business is worth little if we destroy people along the way. Turn that around completely and suddenly business is a powerful means to develop and grow people. And to improve the world we live in. A real force for good.
Sure we need money – it’s fuel. But it’s not an end in itself.
Conscious or Conscience?
Is doing business consciously the same as operating with a conscience? It depends if you believe that people have a conscience.
If you do, then increasing your conciousness means you are likely to become more aware of your conscience.
That doesn’t mean you have to act on it, of course. That’s still your choice. Of course, you’ll be more conscious of that choice too. (No one said it was easy!).
How do we do business more consciously?
Sometimes we are more conscious than at other times. So the aim is to be more conscious more of the time. This means becoming more aware of what is happening to us internally and externally.
- Internally: thoughts, beliefs, feelings, sensations, needs, desires, drives, motivations and so on.
- Externally: other people, our interactions with them (relationships), our physical environment – near and far, physical objects, the results and changes we create, the big-picture and the small, local picture too.
How do we become more conscious?
- By spending time reflecting on these things more ourselves, by inquiring internally, and with help from others, to get a clearer view of our patterns of thought, our feelings, our needs and so on.
- By spending time discussing these things and trying to understand others’ perceptions and views too. Others can help us by giving feedback on what they see and hear – we can understand our own behaviour better and make guesses about what is going on for us internally.
To become more conscious we spend time on these activities; and we ensure we avoid the distractions that stop us seeing, listening and feeling clearly: other people’s noise (TV news?!), habits and addictions of many kinds, and our own fears.
It’s a personal view but my bet is that doing business more consciously will mean:
- you’ll enjoy it more
- you’ll build better, stronger relationships
- you’ll get better results – in personal and in business terms
- the business you own, run or work in will reduce the harm it does, and even increase its positive impact on the world.
We’ve set up a wiki here to gather material to support discussion and enquiry into doing business consciously. Please feel free to read more there, and please join in.