The Paradox of Awakening and Profitability

Building a business is extremely hard.

Building a business on the foundations of Selflessness, Authenticity, Love, and Service is even harder. And one can do that only if one is deeply authentic, generous, selfless and in touch with her/his deep self.

Conscious Capitalism, Servant leadership, love leadership etc. do not happen in isolation. These are, but an outer manifestation of a leader’s inner life. One who doesn’t live by these principles can never bring this to fruition in real world.

Living a spiritual life, living a life based on true north principles, balancing the paradox of individual awakening and business pressures is tough in a corporate environment, so, my respect for those who have been able to translate these principles and bring them to life in businesses is immense.

I stumbled upon “Meaningful Work: A Quest to do great business, find your calling and feed your soul” by Shawn Askinosie last month when 800-CEO-READ featured it in their upcoming books to read. Today’s blog post by Seth Godin calls out this book. A peep into the book traces Shawn’ career trajectory from being a successful lawyer to praying hard daily for years to find a meaningful calling, ultimately resulting in entrepreneurship. I found it fascinating for the references to the Trappist Monastery.

While I know very little about the Monks and the Trappist Monastery, I had read about it earlier in a fascinating book titled “Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks” by August Turak. Turak writes about how the principles of service and selflessness can be the foundation on which a wildly successful business can be built.

Closer home, I am aware of Aravind Eye Care, Cipla (do read this post) and Hare Krishna exports from Surat whose founders have built their businesses on these principles.

While there is so much talk today in the papers about VC’s, funding, how to make profits etc. There is hardly any talk about how to build sustainable, relevant and meaningful businesses. Businesses built on true north principles. Professors who are called to talk about business, regurgitate the same old tales we have read in the business papers, hardly anyone talks about this personal journey. I have actively sought out stories like these in my readings and they fascinate me no end. Walking the path of deep spiritual values is hard and guess that’ the reason we hear very little stories like these! So when I do find them, I feel like celebrating and sharing their success!

In my view, Shri Krishna in The Gita, lays out a very clear, unambiguous path, that can be used as guiding principles and I will share it in the next few posts.

But for now, given that we are talking about Monks and Businesses, I would like to end up with this beautiful story narrated by another monk who heads an Asset Management Company. We can all start with this parable and come back to hear how Shri Krishna answer’s the question about What kind of business/product/service to build in the next post.

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