Believe it or not, running a successful wealth management company is a holistic affair. A business is a living, breathing entity: the CEO is the brain, and must communicate with all parts of the body and make decisions about how to stay healthy, happy, and productive.
As with any living organism, unwanted symptoms should be seen as the body communicating a deeper problem. When my business is out of alignment, it’s an indication that I, too, am in some sense unwell. Practicing mindfulness puts me in tune with my business’ ‘emotional health’ as well as my own.
To hard-boiled New York businessmen, all of this can sound a little far-fetched on the outset. We can be a cynical lot, and plenty judgemental–not to mention busy. But even as cynics and pragmatists, we recognize end results, and mindfulness has been proven to work.
In fact, an article by Psychology Today suggests that mindfulness can reduce chronic pain by 90 percent, and has become a popular treatment for PTSD. Hard-boiled or not, figures lauding mindfulness are hard to ignore. And many at the top of their financial game do it.
Indeed, finding the time for mindfulness can shift a failing business’ morale into the black. Mindfulness can bring enlightenment and strength to you and your business–something many of the greats practice it without even realizing it.
The act of practicing mindfulness is not just the practice of meditation. Instead, meditation is one of various ways to get centered, and clear. Mindfulness itself is a much broader concept with many applications in the workplace and beyond.
Before I started practicing mindfulness, it was just a buzzword that I associated with sitting in the lotus position while chanting a mantra. Now, I believe that all truly successful CEOs, whether knowingly or unknowingly, practice some form of mindfulness every day. For instance, many CEOs actively donate time or money to a charity. Pausing and creating the intention to consider how something inward effects something outward is central to staying mindful.
In my opinion, someone who is only in business for the money may indeed succeed and become very wealthy. But it is unlikely that they will thrive, or be rewarded with the benefits of having a positive vision for themselves, their employees, and the communities they serve.
On the topic of buzzwords, paying it forward isn’t just a catchy slogan; it’s a blueprint for finding enlightenment in your business. I think of it as investing (paying) in the future (forward).
Investing in the future is a business strategy that can further solidify success. This doesn’t have to stop at philanthropic acts. Invest in those you work with. Giving to them is the best way to pay back, and possibly learn something along the way.
Ultimately, everyone is a teacher if they are always ready to listen, learn, and keep passing on wisdom. Maybe your right-hand man reminds you that you are heading down a path that is not true to your vision. Maybe a mentor tells you that you look burnt out and need a vacation. Maybe a complete stranger behaves rudely towards you while you’re getting your morning coffee.
All of these exchanges can be a valuable learning experience. Consider what your right-hand man (or woman) is saying, trust your mentor, and take note of the rude stranger as an exercise on how to exist in acceptance rather than resentment.
Like a wealth manager sets aside money for the future, your personal interactions are a part of a larger job: becoming a more well-rounded communicator and leader. Always learning is a way of considering what role you play in others’ lives, and their role in yours.
Remember that teachers come in all forms–even your employees can teach you volumes. Maybe you’ve heard through the grapevine that an employee is disgruntled and thinking of leaving the company. How can you learn from that? How can you insert mindfulness into this situation? One way is by taking genuine action to improve that employee’s experience with the company. After all, there is much research to show that happy and healthy employees are more productive.
Consider that a troubled business is systemic of failing to identify and acknowledge a problem, and thusly, its solution. For instance, when you catch a bad cold, you pinpoint your symptoms and do something to address the root problem. If you ignore your symptoms, the discomfort will linger or quite possibly worsen.
Something else that needs constant acknowledgment is the fact that we are all human. If your intention is to come out a perfect person on the other side of this journey, you will be disappointed. Just having a spiritual practice won’t make you perfect. But we can try to get as close as possible to our perfect selves. The greatest enemy to getting there is becoming stuck.
During those times when I realize that I’m being too set in my ways, I try to remember the ancient Japanese proverb,“The bamboo that bends is stronger than the oak that resists.”
This old adage is a good one to hold close. In other words, be rooted in your original goal and intention but always leave room–for everything.
When you stop practicing mindfulness (pausing, hearing, and giving), your body follows your mind. You stop manifesting growth. This rigidity in business means that you are no longer open to new ideas and new directions, which is tantamount to stopping the heart and true potential of your company.
I never forget that being the president of my company is a privilege and an honor. Though I don’t diminish my contributions, practicing mindfulness stops me from patting myself on the back and becoming too prideful. I take care to scale back when I get distracted by thinking I’m a ‘self-made man.’ I know that no one does it on their own.
By employing meditation, charitable giving, openness, and active listening to those in your company, from upper management to new employees, you open a channel to let positivity in–which only benefits your business. Fundamentally, mindful living is a way to steer your life, and your company, toward its rightful place.