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Bringing the Soul Into the Workplace
A Report on the International Conference
on Business and Consciousness

By Naomi Rose

Thanks to the CCFCU’s generous educational focus, I recently attended one inspiring conference on two subjects that many people think don’t go together at all: business and consciousness (an awareness of our larger spiritual identity and connection). Put on by The Message Company in Santa Fe, New Mexico, it brought together people from both the business world (one presenter, Lance Secretan, had started up a company and brought it to the $100 million in annual sales mark) and the world of spiritual development. Lest you think that all we did was sing All You Need is Love (we didn’t, though we did sing), let me share with you the essence of the presentations, their message, and what that might have to do with you.

We Are Not Machines
From the workshop on The Next Step in the Transformation of Consciousness and Business by Clare Crawford-Mason and Louis M. Savary, I learned that our consciousness is built on layers of assumptions-e.g., “If I work hard, I’ll be successful” and that many of our assumptions are unconscious. Unconscious assumptions are dangerous because they can blind us to what’s really happening. And many of our assumptions are unwarranted.

Frederick Winslow Taylor, the father of most of our 20th-century workplace assumptions via his Principles of Scientific Management, saw work as based on the machine, and a system as a mechanical thing. Consequently, our internal, mostly unconscious mental operating system has been based on the model of a machine, which most of us use to manage our lives. Taylor's negative legacy includes: an obsession with efficiency; being a nation of clock-watchers; labor/management mistrust; bottom-line management; and even school lesson plans (i.e., the workplace ethic at school).

In contrast, 21st-century assumptions are based, via the thinking and work of W. Edwards Deming, on the model of a living system on managing for joy in work which can be used to manage all aspects of life in a complex and rapidly changing world. A system is a whole that can't be divided into component parts. Systems thinking is a mindset, methodology, and mental discipline.

Five Basic Practices to Start Thinking in
Terms of Systems, Not Machines

  1. Learn to be comfortable with contradictions. See your own life as a movie.
  2. Learn to look at problems as possible opportunities. If you want to improve processes and systems, look in the very places where the problems appear. Use beyond-tangible and beyond-linear ways.
  3. Learn to focus on people's "better sides." Use win/win, not win/lose. See the beyond-tangible elements. Make new relationships with beyond-linear reasoning.
  4. Pause to look for connections in the "big picture." Things get done in the white space in between.
  5. Look for systems and develop an appreciation of them, e.g., anthills, baseball fields, etc. Look for systems everywhere. The effect will be logarithmic.

"Being" In Business
From the workshop on Business in Fullness by Arjuna Ardagh, I learned that when we feel ourselves to be separated, we experience ourselves as disconnected and become suspicious and on guard. This leads to ways of being that are part and parcel of usual business dealings e.g., strategizing (deemed necessary in order to deal with a difficult environment) and the conviction that there is a problem to be solved. Once this feeling has pervaded our psyche, we look around to see what the problem is. Perceiving hostile competition, we doubt ourselves ("I can't, because...") and experience a universe full of limitation. This leads to sabotage ("Stop! Go!"), then restlessness, then a sense of something missing, then a feeling of addiction, body tension, disappointment, feeling compromised, etc., etc. In short, feeling separate runs on incessant desire and fear, and constant activity.

Solution: No effort, goal-setting, overcoming, or making a change is required just opening one's eyes. If a problem is real, its solution requires action in linear time. If a problem is imaginary, its solution requires waking up from the dream in which there is a problem. It doesn't take time just a moment(s) of realization (an "aha!"). This understanding can be applied radically to our most fundamental beliefs about reality and about business.

Doing business from an experience of inner limitlessness: If you sit with the question, "Who is the one who is experiencing this moment?," you will have an experience of expansion and limitlessness. When you do business this way, there is no judgment. You are okay with exactly what is. Life is perfect as it is. Traditionally, business has been an extreme environment, cutting us off from ourselves. By attending to our own consciousness as we operate within the business environment, we can have an entirely different kind of experience. Beneath the cynical, doubting, strategic mind, the universe is benevolent (once you have surrendered). When business is done from a place of fullness, we don't so much work as play to connect, to create, to manifest our potential, to actualize. You go to work to share your creativity, and you are full and incidentally, you get a paycheck.

To co-create in business: First, wait for clarity. Then, it's green lights all the way. The vision of a cooperative occurs when what is trying to make things happen is available to everyone in the same moment. To allow this to unfold in business, return to a place of not knowing instead of holding on to an agenda, so that the divine intelligence can work through us.

Other Nourishments (too many to go into here)
Other workshops included:

  • using archetypes to advertise successfully and with humanitarian values (Carol Pearson, Cars, Stars, and Starbucks: Mythic Branding and Enduring Success and Can Marketing Be Spiritual? Building Extraordinary Brands through the Power of Archetypes)
  • honesty and making businesses more transparent (Neale Donald Walsch and Brad Blanton, Honest to God in Business: Consciousness about Consciousness)
  • socially responsible investing and its successes (Hal Brill and Cliff Feigenbaum, The Soul of Money: Making a Profit, Making a Difference; Business as a Spiritual Discipline (Rinaldo Bruttaco)
  • spiritual leadership (Lance Secretan, The Keys to the Castle: Bringing Spirit Back to Life in Business Spiritual Values in the Workplace)

and others that are still rippling through my consciousness.

Naomi Rose is a professional writer and a Book Developer who lives in Oakland, California. She came to the 2002 Conference on Business and Consciousness wearing two hats one as a board member of the Cooperative Center Federal Credit Union in Berkeley, CA, and the other as the head of her own business, Writing from the Deeper Self. Rose is currently writing The Blessings Ledger: The Union of Money and Compassion. As a Book Developer, she has helped hundreds of writers successfully make the journey from conception to final, publishable manuscript. Naomi can be reached at [email protected]

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