This year I decided that 2 more glasses of Prosecco was not what I needed to see the New Year in. I’m in a time of transition, my business is 5 in March and I’m ready to make changes and my daughter is in her 18th year and any parent knows what that means. So what I really wanted and needed was to take some quiet time and re-group.
And thus I found myself booked into the Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre in Ulverston for their New Years Eve and New Years Day events.
Having never done such a thing before I had no idea what to expect, but in 2015 I learnt to meditate and decided at the very least I would get to be still for a while and eat healthy food.
As it was, I was in exactly the right place, seeing the New Year in in The Temple for World Peace.
The New Years Eve teaching and meditation was on the need for change. For all our innovation and technology and things, we have not ended world poverty or created peace, in fact many would say the world is a pretty scary place. So maybe we need to give something else a go, and something else is changing ourselves.
The New Years Day teaching built on that and looked at how so much of the misery in the world has come about from too much attention on I.
What has this got to do with our businesses?
Well pretty much everything really.
When I first got involved in business education a few years back I thought I was in the wrong place. People were asked what motivated them and they gave answers like ‘a yacht, a Bentley, a 2nd home’ etc. All material objects that they associated with success.
Then I went to a seminar by Wayne Hemingway and he said;
If you want to make money get a job, running a business is about making a difference
and I realised it was possible to be an ethical business owner and redefine success.
Business owners who are all about Me, Me, Me, how much profit can I make? and how many more homes, cars, islands can I buy? have their attention in the wrong place and are without a doubt contributing to the out-of-balanceness that we are experiencing.
On New Years Day I heard When we think I is the most important we neglect others. This is delusional self importance and inevitably leads to conflict.
We should have moved on from believing we are the centre of the universe by the age of 5. And yet here we are in the rich world forgetting that we are just are a teeny weeny part of, not the centre of, the world. Forgetting that in the grand scheme of things we are no more, and no less, important than any other living creature.
Just look at what we’ve done in the name of making profit. Over the last 40 years we have wiped out 50% of our wildlife. More recently with the increased use of palm oil we have killed 50,000 orangutans in 20 years, leaving only about 6,000. Now let’s be clear, these beautiful gentle creatures did not die to feed the hungry. They were simply in the way – of our next jar of peanut butter, chocolate bar, car cleaner, or lipstick.
And it’s not only issues on the other side of the world. On a more local level in England we have nearly 100,000 homeless children, a million of our pensioners are lonely with nobody to talk to, and we cut down trees and dig up fields to build more homes – resulting in existing homes being flooded!
When we don’t connect the dots this is what Buddhist teachings call ignorance, because it means we have failed to understand our connection to the world. We have failed at joined up thinking.
Only when all the trees have died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realise that we can not eat money. 19th Century Cree Proverb.
So what can we do?
Educate ourselves. I’ve made a commitment to Be Awake in 2016. Sometimes I don’t want to be, I just want to hole up and not hear what crazy decisions those in power have made today. But there is a limit to how long we can get away with saying I didn’t know that when we have endless information at our fingertips. This article by George Monbiot is a good one for starters The Gift of Death
Understand the whole of your business – ignorance is no defence. Talking to a buyer for a very well known international company recently we got onto the subject of ensuring we check all the way down the line when we outsource. For example they had outsourced their uniforms to a company in Asia, and he acknowledged that it’s easy to then think they have done their bit by checking that supplier’s labour conditions. But the likelihood is that they will outsource to someone else who will outsource…. and that is how we end up with small children making our clothes. It may be time consuming, but we have a legal and moral responsibility.
Check your intention and your happiness. Having more and more stuff does not bring us happiness it merely sets us on to our next conquest. In the teaching there was a powerful expression of being separated from our happiness. We have been taught over the last 50 years that things will make us happy, that if we just make more money and buy a flat screen TV, the next iphone, a new handbag… that will make us happy. If you find yourself wanting to increase your profits just because you’re chasing the next shiny thing, believing that will make you or a loved one happy, take a minute to regroup and notice what really matters. You just may have become separated from your happiness.
Our leaders haven’t done such a great job over the last few decades, so how about we take another look at our business, our intentions and actions and see if we can be the difference.
If you have any thoughts on this, please do leave a comment below.