Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Building a Business the Buddhist Way

Building a Business the Buddhist Way
by Geri Larkin

How can you shift your own livelihood so that it better reflects your deepest ethical values? First, admit this; you are yearning for something more in your life... There are too many other things to do. The yearning is healthy and healing, and will provide the tenacity you'll need to see your new work into fruition. A business of integrity feeds our deepest hungers. It is a vehicle for connecting deeply with the creative spirit of our lives and provides a way for each of us to express our unique gifts and talents. It offers the proof we need that each of our lives matters. Finally, it is proof that work can give each of us a sense of joy.

...embrace balance, acknowledging that energy and creativity flow naturally out of a well-rounded lifestyles.

...we need to be able to take risks if our lives are going to change in any significant way.

Right livelihood businesses are just plain fun. Humor is always present, along with a refreshing humility. "We'll do our best and see how it plays out, knowing and openly admitting that we don't control the universe."

We can still embrace the precepts and get sucked into our business like a dust ball into a vacuum cleaner. Meanwhile, we need to keep our energy up and our creativity quotient high for our enterprise to prosper and grow. Balance is what keeps us sane. It feeds our energy level. Without it, we're goners. Workaholism does not work in right livelihood businesses. It's too one-dimensional. What we may gain in focus, we lose in tracking the broader context...

We need to define what balance means to us, and to embrace it, both in our lives and in the lives of our staff, clients, suppliers, and other stakeholders.

... (right livelihood) acknowledges and embraces all of the aspects of our lives. It respects that we are not just our business but have other components in our days that matter to us-families that need us, friends, culture, spirituality, play.

...a fully-lived life has five courses. The first is our own spirituality. This provides us with an unending stream of energy and meaning. ...our spirituality helps us to realize the oneness of life and provide the still point at the center of all of the things we do in a day. ...we need to do our spiritual practice-whether it is meditation, prayer, walking in woods, dancing, or just being alone in a quiet place. And we ned to do it regularly. Every single day.

The second course of our life is study and learning; not just book study, but mastery of new skills or adventures into new places. It's getting to know new people, people we might not otherwise know-from different cultures, different ages, other sexes. Study gives us sharpness and keeps our minds working. It feeds our curiosity and rewards our risking new places, people, and things. It also keeps us young and fresh and interesting.

How we make our living is the third course. What we need to remember is that while our work is important, it is only one portion of our life.

The fourth course is called social action. I call it doing good. When Buddha was giving dharma talks almost three thousand years ago, he would tell people that it was not really worth teaching them anything about becoming more spiritual until they got really skilled at being generous. ...we need to do good. It can be spontaneous and informal.

(The last course...) We need relationships. Friends and family. We need community. Without them our loneliness can seep into all the other courses of our lives, turning them into mold and mush. The last course is the one that weaves all the other courses together into an honest-to-goodness work of art. A feast worth living.
You can start with what you have, where you are. The role of the resources you are able to gather for the business is simple to tell you what the scale of the business or expansion will be.
"Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it. Begin it now." Goethe
...a right livelihood business is patient. It grows in an unforced way, if it grows at all. If it is meant to grow, it grows incrementally in a way that makes it possible for people involved to continue to embrace the other aspects of their lives. It also grows incrementally so that the environment can be protected and the quality of the business, its products, and its operation can be sustained.

Patience matters because it allows space for a business to take form in a natural, integrative way. Patience lets us monitor the consequences of changes-both intended and unintended-so any negative impacts can be quickly corrected. A right livelihood business is a path-your path.

...entrepreneurs constantly ask themselves four key questions:
1.What do I need and want out of life?
2.How can my company accomplish that?
3.What would such a company look like?
4.How do I/we get it to look like that

Our real job is to live a life that is an incredible shinning adventure. The place to start is inside ourselves. What are our real values? What are we honestly good at-because we love doing it? And how does all this translate into our own path?

The first real step in building a business the Buddhist way is to determine your path. And the pre-step to that-if there is on-is to tell yourself that you have a moral obligation to live your own path, because it is true.

The characteristics of a person who is on his or her appropriate path are always clear to the people around them. Their livelihood uses all aspects of their personhood, combining interests, skills and values.

Think of someone you know who is on his or her appropriate path. Did you list these? Energetic, healthy, happy, filled with joy, empathetic, alive, have a special sense of purpose, visionary, see current reality as an ally, embrace change, inquisitive, committed to seeing reality accurately, connected, don't sacrifice their uniqueness, continuously learning, see their life journey as its own reward, deeply self-confident, acutely aware of their ignorance, ditto for their incompetence, relish their uniqueness, have a sense of humor, humble.

People who have the courage to figure out their particular path are happy. Even when the work is excruciatingly difficult. Even if they are fighting a fight that they may never win in their lifetime. It doesn't matter. A match is a match, and appropriate work is like having a constant stream of energy feeding you every day. You don't have time to be bored because there is work to be done. You don't have time to wallow in the unfairness of life because there are mountains to climb. And you don't have time to obsess about the crazymakers in your life just don't.

Doing something that you hate doing doesn't work. Period. Reason on is that we are miserable when we are spending our days working on something that doesn't feed us emotionally and spiritually.

Success happens to people who believe in themselves and in their ability to figure out what needs to be done in a specific situation.

In any difficult situation, you have three tasks:
1. Don't panic (because panic doesn't help anything).
2. Assess the situation. In other words, we need to truly understand what is going on in a given situation.
3. Do the obvious. Doing the obvious assumes self-confidence - that we trust ourselves to do what's best or at the minimum what's "good enough" in any situation.

Failure. There isn't any such thing. This whole drill we call life is about one thing: evolving spiritually. When things don't go as planned, they simple haven't gone as planned. There are probably a bundle of lessons in the experience, but failure? None. Failure is an illusion...

Obstacles are grist for your evolving mill. Best strategy? Face them head on. Define, them, figure out their scale, and then strategize how you are going to get around them. Think like water. Instead of fighting the obstacles, look for ways around them and for the cracks where you can seep through them. After awhile you'll realize that obstacles can actually be entertaining, and appreciate them for their ability to keep you from ever being bored.

Every day I take refuge in Buddha, dharma, and sangha. Each is a reminder that none of us is alone and that asking for help is part of creating a right livelihood life. Nobody does this stuff along. Nobody.

It is a waste of time and precious energy to look for someone else to blame if you make an unwise decision. You don't have that time and energy to spare. I say take the hit and keep going.
"In order to see I have to be willing to be seen." Hugh Prather
...the Dalai Lama teaches, there is no point in worrying about something. Either you can do something about it or you can't. If you can do something, do it. Otherwise just move on.


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