I was listening to an audio recently of a talk given by Christine Miller whose work focuses on bringing love into the boardroom. Initial reactions have included raised eyebrows and a touch of scepticism because people do not realise how inadequate our word love is. In Greek there are four types of love: agape, eros, philia and storge.
Agape is known as the spiritual love because it is selfless and gives expecting nothing in return. Eros is the sensual kind of love at first sight. Philia is not only the love of an activity, it also refers to loyalty for family, friends and community. Storge refers to the natural bond and affection that parents feel for their children and is known to include acceptance of or putting up with situations.
As Christine explains in her talk, love in the boardroom is not an acronym for sex on the boardroom table, it contains many elements including the need for tough love. http://christinemiller.co/2014/01/christine-miller-the-love-of-art-talk/
So what does love of any kind have to do with business? I am passionate about business becoming sacred again because it sits the heart of society. When our relationship with business changes then there will be huge ramifications on all parts of our lives. So where do you start?
The key is to trust your heart to move where your unique talents can flourish. This old world will really spin when work becomes a joyous expression of the soul ~ Al Sacharov
When we do this, then our focus is not on the next sale rather it switches to the long game and becomes more like philia and in exceptional human beings agape. This is not some pie in the sky idealism. It really works. Here are some live examples of it in action.
Earlier this week I was talking to Rich Gallagher who specialises in communication. A year ago his work took a new direction. He became a fully qualified therapist and has a had a full practice from the word go even though he makes a point of never selling. As we talked it was clear that his success as an entrepreneur comes from how well he treats others and the amount of time he invests in relationships. I can vouch for that personally in that he is always willing to spend time exchanging ideas and thoughts with me on Skype when there is no immediate gain for him. As he also writes in his latest blog post, he endeavours to add as much value whatever he is doing and gives that as the reason why the opportunities flow.
Give it time to build a relationship or two. In one example that I know of, it was nine years before a relationship bore fruit in a business sense. It led to the individual receiving an invitation to speak an extremely prestigious gathering about their life’s work. Attendance at this conference is by invitation only! Personally I have been in dialogue with someone now for two years. There has been no work; they have not become a client of any of my programmes and yet we connect regularly. Why do I bother you might ask? I value the time we spend in conversation and always feel that I gain so much that I can reflect on afterwards. I have a feeling it may lead to other things and yet it is also fulfilling in itself. For me it is as if we are conversing at the soul level.
We are all made of energy and our souls crave deep connection or as in the prayer of the Navajo (a people of the American Southwest), your soul wants to “walk in beauty.” We live in a culture that has commodified beauty, confused it with perfection instead of truth. In The Invitation, Oriah Mountain Dreamer explains what beauty truly is:
What is this Beauty…? It is what pulls us toward life. It is what calls to us when we are in despair, seduces us into opening again and again to the possibility of love and laughter. It is the physical manifestation of the Mystery- God, Spirit, the divine- that surrounds and beckons to us every day of our lives. It is life that chooses life. The Navaho prayer expresses our souls’ desire to be able to recognize and receive Beauty, knowing that as we do so we become co-creators of this Beauty, of that which urges, ‘Live.’
One way you can experience this beauty for yourself is to start by considering carefully who you spend time with. This is crucial because energy, like DNA, is exchanged with every conversation you have; be it online or face-to-face. It is why I bring business owners together to experience deep connection with each other and to see the beauty of themselves and the members of the group as the day unfolds. It is so much more than a conversation.
Desperation, on the other hand comes in many forms. It usually shows up when people are focusing on externalities like how much money they earn rather than listening to their inner teacher and taking the step to a more fulfilling life. They have probably accepted unquestioned answers like there is not enough. The focus moves from one of curiosity and a desire to serve another and becomes how can I make a sale out of this interaction. That rarely works in fact it happened to me recently and it took great presence of mind to be able to continue to respond with grace.
The key to every experience you have is the ability to discern what is needed. Going back to where we started. Yes love is about connection, beauty and giving without counting the cost. There is also another side to love and that is tough love.
I now operate a three strike rule with people in my space. I accept that first impressions are not necessarily a true reflection of that person and will always give them a second and usually a third chance. At the same time I will always name what I am seeing something I learnt from an ex-McKinsey consultant in my days at PwC. After three interactions if on balance it is not a positive experience, I am much more wary in my dealings with them. That said I won’t burn all bridges because you never know what the future holds.
I heard a great example of his philosophy recently where a person actively keeps his friends close and his enemies closer. After a decade of keeping the door ajar on a relationship that had affected him adversely previously, that person approached him and offered him a very lucrative business contract for him. This way of working gets easier as we build our own compassion muscle. It is one of the many reasons I practise and teach mindfulness.
At the same time, I take active steps to create beauty around me. This year I am engaged in an experiment with a number of those in my tribe. It is called sacred space for the soul. We gather together once a month to discover what we can create when we focus our positive intention and combine it for the benefit of each other, the group and our wider community. It is a magical endeavour. Already after only one month, I have gained access to a group that I tried to join about a year ago. I am delighted to be considered a member of Wisdompreneurs.
I would like to close with some words from Oriah and offer them as an exhortation to you as you go through your week. If this article has moved you then I would love to hear from you so do please add your comments below.
May we offer Beauty to others in how we move through our day- how we see another, listen deeply, cultivate patience & offer our thanks.