Some may see spiritually-minded people and businesspeople at odds with one another. Truth is, being business oriented or being immersed on a spiritual path doesn’t determine failure (or success) in business. In fact, research shows that these two different ideals can work nicely together. Having spiritual values as a fundamental part of your business can actually increase productivity and profitability as well as employee retention, customer loyalty, and brand reputation. Although work might be the last place you think of as a spiritual practice, it requires as much trust, devotion, love, integrity, and purpose as a belief in a Higher Power. Running a business can become an act of reverence just by shifting your attitude.
Actually, the practice of bringing soulfulness to the world is possibly the most spiritual and transformative thing you can do. Business and spirituality: there truly is no separation.
Walking Your Talk
As an entrepreneur in the mind-body-spirit segment, are you using spiritual principles and beliefs to run your business? Or do you leave them behind, only focusing on your bottom line the minute you open your shop? To understand the importance of walking your spirituality talk, I want to share my personal spiritual-business journey with you.
In the early ‘90s, I followed a loud-and-clear message delivered in a lucid dream, telling me: You need to open a shop. No further directions were given as to how to do that or what it was supposed to look like. Although I had no clue as to how to create or run a store, there was no doubt that I had to carry out the vision. As a spiritual teacher, and someone who dutifully listens to unsolicited otherworldly messages, I found myself doing nothing differently than practicing what I preach. So, instead of following a traditional business model, I began meditating, requesting guidance and direction. Instead of creating a budget for this venture, I asked for support from the Universe. Inventory was purchased by listening to the intuitive pulls of my Higher Consciousness. When I followed its lead, I would buy amazing items that would invariably sell out. If ignored, what I bought, believe it or not, would inevitably land on the sale table, or in a gift basket donation.
Since I ascribed to the power of intention, able to consistently manifest what I wanted and needed, I figured it would be a piece of cake to become profitable. During times when that wasn’t happening, I would address deeper levels of subconscious belief systems and karmic influences that were sabotaging success.
Consistent miracles would unfold by utilizing spiritual awareness tools. If things felt “off” for no apparent reason, I would do energy work to clear the space, or inner work to clear my headspace. Admittedly, it wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns, but we were successfully in business for 21 years!
What Does a Spiritual Business Look Like?
The differences between a spiritual business and those that aren’t can appear to be subtle, at least on the surface. As you delve deeper, the disparities are profound. One example is the way they perceive and react to various events. In a spiritual business, people are more aware that they’ve chosen their life circumstances, less likely to feel they are victims. Spiritual people are committed to treat each experience as an opportunity for personal growth. Thus, if they get angry, they’re more able to constructively work through the situation, seeing it as a lesson rather than justification to give up. They often have a clear, visionary focus, a heart-centered purpose beyond financial considerations. The vision is inspiring, causing them to put lots of energy, time and commitment into it.
People want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. They feel a strong sense of purpose even if they don’t realize it. Employees choosing to work in a spiritual environment feel part of the mission, a sense of ownership and alignment with this purpose. They see job choices as an expansion of themselves, wanting to add value and contribute in meaningful ways rather than just bring home a paycheck.
When your shop is purpose-driven and meaning-based, customers want to do their best to help it succeed and be a part of its growth. Needless to say, this attitude is opposite from the culture of most traditional businesses. Business models are usually hierarchical, controlling, and determined primarily by financial considerations. Since spiritual people have a more humanistic approach, they sometimes forget that it’s impossible to run an organization without at least some structure and financial control. Conversely, conventional business sometimes forgets that it’s impossible to run a business without spirit. As the poet Kahlil Gibran reminds in The Prophet, “work is love made visible.”
Keeping the Balance
In its most fundamental form, spirituality is feeling connected to something greater than self. It’s a personal experience that there’s something more to life than just a narrow, ego-oriented view. Bringing this relationship to everyday life is living spiritually.
In business and in life, the balanced combination of logic, experience, information and spirituality is optimum. If one aspect outweighs the other, it can cause problems and overcompensation.
Veering way over to the spiritual side, ignoring fundamental smart business practices, usually doesn’t work. For example, never having sales, or constantly giving away merchandise to any “good cause” that asks for donations. Granted, your heart might be in the right place, but when your accountant sees how much you lost, get ready to hear the riot act.
It’s important to generate a mutually supportive partnership with your spiritual and logical sides, each in its place, and each knowing when to be the alpha dog. Of course, you are the one who determines which side to listen to and when (though there’s not much that can’t be dealt with from a spiritual place). Although each step you take can be based on trusting inner or spiritual guidance, there are times you may still need the advice of someone with cold, hard, business experience. But, that logic-based information still has to pass your spiritually-based awareness even if those business savvy folks think your choices are dicey.
Remember: on a Higher Consciousness, what-am-I-here-to-learn level, all choices work out in some way.
Stay True to Your Path
Even though left-brain advice and guidance has its place, using spiritual tools in business is just as important, if not more so. Business owners using Higher principles often make wiser decisions, solve problems more easily, build authentic relationships, are more productive, prosperous, creative, experience less stress, and achieve that enigmatic work/life balance. Utilizing spirituality in business is certainly not without challenges. However, it can become grist for the mill that deepens Higher Consciousness awareness and strengthens spiritual connectedness. So much of a shop owner’s time is doing day-to-day work, things that don’t appear to be very spiritual. Yet, by shifting your perception to see that everything is spiritual, you can have a purposeful, meaningful and holy opportunity in any and all situations. Being immersed in a right-brain spiritual practice while trying to be left-brained business minded can be tricky. But keep in mind that once you’re on a spiritual path, the Universe won’t allow veering and will assist you in wondrous ways.
Here are some suggestions to help you stay your spiritual course and simultaneously be a successful business owner. Know that you can’t fake it – customers can pick up on inauthentic spiritual vibes:
Choose meaningfulness. Everything you do is as spiritual and meaningful as you choose it to be. Every single day you are changing your corner of the world in some way, and you may never know how you’ve impacted or inspire someone.
The real meaning of success. Society has its own definition of success – making lots of money, but that doesn’t need to be yours. Are you feeling joy in what you’re doing, bringing joy to others? Do you support others in some way? Are you taking a stand for something you believe in? That’s true success.
Love is the answer. No matter what you have to do each day as a store owner, being Love is truly your Highest spiritual practice. What are those customers who come in to browse and never purchase anything teaching you about love? What are children who mess up displays teaching you? What are perpetually late employees teaching you? The lessons that can take you to more love are endless if you are mindful.
Look deeply within. Utilize running your shop as a way to dive deeper inside. Owning a business presents constant mirrors to reflect what’s truly going on inside, subconsciously. Low sales could reflect how deserving you really feel. Indecisive customers could be a message about your own level of commitment. Allow your business to assist you in getting in touch with negative attitudes, fears, belief systems and karma – potent aspects of a spiritual journey.
Just ask. The Universe answers requests if asked with the intention to receive answers. Ask that your connection to spirituality be “louder” or more concrete. Ask for “signs” or “messengers” (people who drop into your life with something important to tell you even if they don’t realize what their message is). Ask that answers show up in your dream state.
How’s your personal integrity? Every business owner faces times when it’s easier to not do what’s right. Yet, taking the approach that ultimately doing the right thing will be supported, the choice is always easy. Decide from a soul-based, open-hearted place honoring your sense of ethics, understanding the power of karma (cause and effect). Have an attitude of constantly cleaning things up (even if you don’t know why).
What are you selling? Do you feel right about what you’re selling? Spiritually aware shops are taking measures to reduce their ecological footprint, making sure offerings are ethically made, Fair Trade and perhaps have soul nurturing or spiritually based messages. Being concerned about profit margins is fine, but be just as concerned about the interconnection of life on this planet.
Give/receive balance. Most spiritual practices emphasize the importance of giving or tithing. There’s a spiritual “law” that says you receive in direct proportion to what you have freely given. So, contributing and donating are actually ‘paying it forward,’ as long as your motives are purely loving.
Be a living example. Who you are with customers and employees is the highest spiritual message you give, it comes from compassion, true caring, and authentic connection.
Be non-attached. Spiritual practices emphasize the ephemeral aspect of life, the importance of letting go. Even though you are selling “things,” practice non-attachment. Big money sales are nice, but don’t encourage shopping addiction.
Know you know. Intuition is your internal spiritual antenna, hardwired to receive wise answers from your Higher Consciousness and the Universe. Ask to be guided and trust how it communicates with you, even if it doesn’t seem logical. If you don’t, you’ll probably find out soon enough why you should have.
If you feel pulled to do something, say something, purchase something, do; if you feel an illogical aversion or hesitancy to something, listen! Use your intuition to help customers find what they didn’t even know they were looking for. Notice “coincidences,” serendipitous events that draw your attention. That’s spirit talking directly to you.
Utilize spiritual soul-utions. That might be as simple as applying feng shui principles to re-design your shop, using prayer or meditation, having a spiritual blessing performed, creating an altar of some kind. Spiritually based businesses have much better “self-healing” mechanisms due to an inherent commitment to lovingly resolve problems. When something goes wrong, spiritual people have a natural tendency to bring it back on course. In non-spiritual organizations, people break agreements, get angry with each other, and problems get locked in. However, be open to accepting deeper internal fixes or external help when needed.
Don’t push it. As a shop owner, part of your responsibility is to develop a workplace where people experience and express connectedness, acceptance, peace, trust and sense of purpose. However, using spirituality in a controlling or dictatorial way will certainly kill that energy. Your personal beliefs might be very real to you, but don’t force them on anyone else, especially employees.
On a spiritual level, you know what you are supposed to be doing with your life. Your spiritual connection tells you when you’re on track, nudging you in various ways when you’re not in alignment. Tune in and trust it because it is your greatest business success mentor.