This is a metaphor warning issued by the Metaphor office…the overuse of metaphors is about to occur. Do not take cover, bear with me and it will soon pass….but metaphors are good. They get across serious messages in simple ways…
In the eye of the storm the wind doesn’t blow…all is relatively still. Did you know that in the eye of a hurricane storm the barometric pressure is significantly lower? it feels calmer…it’s easy to think that the worst is over, the crisis has passed. There are many times when we think like this and business is no different. One might think that the bad weather has passed and we can put down the umbrella. A few nice days and many think global warming has passed; economic growth in the developing world and poverty it seems has ended. How easy it is to be lulled into a wrong sense and even change the things we believed.
In the beginning our values spur us on….
In business, though the initial development and start-up period can be very hectic, it is also a period of energetic and enthusiastic dynamism where values, ideas and hunger propel them forward and give them wings. Whoosh…Lift-off…pushing through the low cloud, bump, struggle, dip and drop!…reach a cruising altitude…..and relax. Look over there, look at the view, get in with a new crowd.
But before you know it you are running with a new pack and you have taken your eyes of the controls. Your altitude has dropped and your speed is erratic. You might begin to focus on different and new issues…you can lose focus altogether. Don’t worry it’s easy… its easy to get distracted or even get an attack of wandering monkey mind. That reminds me…I recently visited an exhibition at the Barbican in London on Consciousness and its quite easy to see how our minds might be distracted by the sheer complexity of competing demands, intertwined with the complexity of our lives and busy business markets. It reminded me of the book by the founder of Patagonia clothing, Yvon Chouinard called Let My People Go Surfing and why distractions might be a good thing…
“Work had to be enjoyable on a daily basis. We all had to come to work on the balls of our feet, going up the stairs two steps at a time. We needed to be surrounded by friends who could dress whatever way they wanted, even barefoot. We needed to have flex time to surf the waves when they were good, or ski the powder after a big snowstorm, or stay home and take care of a sick child. We needed to blur that distinction between work and play and family“
So, how can businesses keep the pot from boiling over or boiling dry? How do we keep our eyes on the ball? How do they maintain those levels of value consistency which led us to start out on their beautiful business journey?
First, distraction may, from time to time, be good; second, values will go through some form of transformation anyway, but lets hope for the better; third, most businesses may have some kind of strategy thinking process but do they have a monitoring system in place which sends back signals when values go off track?
We might look for unusual solutions to stay focused and on track. The answer come from afar…meditation, concentration and mindfulness. Interestingly, an increasing number of companies, both big and small, are embracing meditation as a method of re-centring themselves and their employees. Meditation and mindfulness certainly has its place. Indeed an opportunity to meditate in the workplace is being used with increasingly frequency as a great way for employees to reduce stress and to lessen workplace irritability and perhaps be more ‘productive’.
But lets not take the word too literally. What I am talking about is revisiting your values and thinking about why you started into business in the first place. Don’t let anyone tell you that values have no place in business and they are a form of sentimentality that will be soon crushed out of you. Thats not true. Sentimentally and values do pay and big business has woken up to that fact. Consumers prefer businesses with values, businesses which give back, businesses which care and rather than deplete and take resources, they try to add value. These are beautiful businesses.
Be Mindful…be aware of the present and keep yourself tuned in…Concentrate…don’t ruminate or focus on distractions…Be insightful…allows you to get the best out of your concentration and values.
Have you visited your values today…?
I have to remind myself too and I do this by revisiting my values and thinking about why I engage and what inspired me in the first place. Think about the connections you have made and the impacts you and your business have. Think about your relationships with others, with those around you, those who work with you and the community and environment you live in. Think about the products you sell and those you make and look at the changes you might have made along the way. You might also take time to think about nonbusiness…those elements which feed your business well-being. These are intangibles often overlooked. Thich Nhat Hanh the Buddhist Zen master says business can’t exist without nonbusiness elements, that is that nothing can exist by itself alone and everything depends upon everything else. Businesses must think about these interconnections and the value of our actions on other phenomena. If we forget this we really do need to go back to basics.
Taking care of nonbusiness..
Being diligent…You need to stop, slow down and revisit. I do…or at least I try. Thich Nhat Hanh likens this to being awake. Think about when you had that moment of clarity when you started you beautiful business, capture it and try to stay awake and if you need down time to think…do it right. If we lose out values we lose our business and our humanity.