What’s a healthy business?
In this article I am going to define a healthy business, the qualities that lead to business health and explain how mindfulness training will make your business more profitable.
Even when we love what we do, the bottom line is that we are in business to make money and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, money is made when we focus on delivering the best product and service that we can. When we ensure that all links in the chain are functioning as perfectly as possible – quality sales and marketing techniques built around clarity and helpfulness, excellent customer service, a product or service that delivers – success should happen all by itself provided attention is also paid to efficiency and making the numbers add up to a profit.
Don’t chase the money
When we start chasing money rather than excellence, instead of getting richer quicker, we are actually kissing goodbye to our business. While it is true that can’t please everyone all of the time, if the business tries its best for its customers then there will be more than enough loyal customers to stand shoulder to shoulder with the brand if somebody isn’t happy. Putting money first and customers second will only ever bring short term ‘success’ if that’s what you can call such an exercise.
For a business to succeed it needs a team that is focused on delivering a quality product and service so what are the ingredients that ensure that.
Teams work best when everybody works in harmony with each other and with the whole team. This co-ordinated effort is what brings about solutions to challenges and efficiencies in performance. Teams work more harmoniously when a number of factors come together.
The needs to be smooth and clear communication not only between members of staff from the top to the bottom of the organisation but between the organisation and the outside world of clients and requirements.
An environment that supports concentration
Given optimal communication between all members of the team so each player knows what part they are playing, they then need the environment and support to really focus on that task. When we know what our role is in the project and are allowed the freedom to do what we do best, we then have the conviction to march forward.
Relationships are stronger and people gel easier when they are able to empathise with each other. If this vital ingredient is ignored then people start to feel like prisoners, or that their feelings and perspectives are ignored. That can only lead to friction, difficulties in concentration and ineffective communication.
The team is only as strong as its weakest member. Your business will succeed more if you give as much support as possible to those who need it; not make them feel pushed aside or like the odd one out. Allowing a member to slip under the radar will negatively effect the team by damaging one or more of the other ingredients – communication, internal relationships, external relationships, concentration issues or a lack of clarity on their goal. By supporting each other individual resilience is strengthened and that increases the power of the team to march forward, whatever the terrain and to put negativity behind them.
The confidence of every single member of the team is vital and creates a level of confidence in the whole which is greater than the sum of the parts. Confidence levels and moods travel fast within organisations. This resonates with the point about resilience. A lack of resilience will affect confidence on an individual or group basis sooner of later.
Sometimes, stuff happens that we really didn’t expect. Whether it is our largest customer going bust with a hefty account outstanding, a staff member being ill or somebody knocking coffee onto the server. Nobody’s perfect. When we are caught out by a sudden mishap, how are we supposed to handle it. Arguably, it is appropriate to feel a sense of panic if the server goes down or even feel a little angry if somebody’s bag placed too far from their desk causes us to trip and hurt ourselves. How will that help? Knee jerk reactions get us nowhere and the more we can curb ‘reactivity’ and take a step back from situations the more positively we can move forward, learn from mistakes, put systems in place to prevent the same thing happening again.
If members of the team are more concerned with pleasing the company rather than focusing on the customer what’s going to happen. That kind of culture is money-chasing; not a winning culture. No, in order to have people who can come up with ideas that are innovative, practical and award winning (is that a dirty word these days?) then there needs to be a culture of free-thinking. In a free-thinking culture there is no such thing as a ‘failure’ – only lessons to be learnt. Of course, if a lesson is ignored and the same undesired outcome happens twice then the second time would be a ‘failure’ – a failure to learn from a previous lesson.
It’s all linked
You may have noticed how these aspects interconnect. Poor communication is more likely to lead to frictions through misunderstanding. Reactivity could amplify the impact of such misunderstandings. This affects team moral and reduces confidence in getting jobs done, concentration reduces as people start watching their backs.
None of this is rocket science and yet…how many of us have seen these issues being taken serious, really, in the workplaces we have worked in? This is not a dig at any business including yours. It is a statement of fact. Human nature is the problem. Possibly the biggest problem with human nature while simultaneously being one of our greatest assest is the human ego.
“I’m right. You’re wrong. You will do what I want. Why are you doing that? I don’t like it.”
Make your mind your friend
This is an old zen saying, much loved by samurai warriors. Its truth has been touched upon by many people with various superb quotes. Henry Ford’s “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re always right” for example.
From the day we are born the hard wiring of our brains becomes more and more complex. By the time we are just two years of age we are already getting a very clear sense of being our own little separate self. “I want” and “No” become major parts of our vocabulary. As we develop our ability to retain information, memories, habits, rules of thumb, becomes greater and greater until by the time we are adults, we have that much rubbish swimming around in our heads that we don’t even know it is there.
Watch the mind
Most of us actively ignore peeking within to see what is lurking. We make ourselves busy by focusing almost totally on everyone else and the outside world, what other people are doing right or wrong or what we like about them, soap operas, music, video games, hobbies and sports…anything but stop still and find out what’s going on in our heads.
The word “meditation” scares many people because they associate it with otherness or mysticism – “that’s for buddhists or that’s hocus pocus”. The truth is that it isn’t. It is an extremely beneficial mental exercise for seeing what’s going on in our heads and cleaning up our minds at the same time. Many refer to it as “mindfulness” now to reflect its secular nature. Once you understand what mindfulness practice really is, it is easy to understand why it would be adopted by various religions.
What is mindfulness?
Put simply and briefly, mindfulness is the focus of one’s attention on this moment, here and now – paying attention to our inner world as well as our outer world, observing without judgement. When we sit still, bringing about an increased sense of awareness of what it is to be alive, we start to notice things that we usually ignore. In regard to our internal world, we are able to reflect on the constant chattering within our minds – thoughts, images, feelings, memories, judgements. Unfortunately without being aware of these things, they actually shape how we engage with our world. They affect our relationships, our judgement, our own level of happiness. Just by observing all this mental chatter or ‘skull cinema’ we automatically understand intrinsically that we are not those thoughts, feelings, memories. We are a deeper level of awareness. During this process our ego dissolves.
See things in a new way
One of the first things people notice when they emerge from a meditation session is how different everything seems. They feel more connected to the world and to each other. Their level of contentment is greatly improved. Meditation allows us to become aware of our mind, of our ego, and not to be ruled by it. When we make our mind our friend we can achieve great things. When it works against us, it can lead to ruin.
Our friends – Concentration, Empathy, Resilience, Creativity…
Remember at the start of this article how a number of factors were identified that could seriously affect the success of our businesses. Mindfulness training has been proven to significantly affect every single one of those elements. Concentration, empathy and creative thinking are all enhanced through meditative practice. Reactivity is reduced. Emotional intelligence increases. This translates into better academic performance and improved behaviour in our schools, mental well-being in our hospitals, more silverware for our creative employees, more productivity, happier teams and improved bottom lines.
It’s your choice!
So there’s your choice. Have a mind for business. Have a mind for a more fulfilling way of life. Have a mind for happiness and success.
Mindfulness is the key.