Many of us are familiar with the popular Showtime television series Billions. The show gives us a glimpse into the world of high-stakes financial asset management. Wall Street hero/anti-hero Bobby Axelrod will stop at nothing to achieve his goals while his antagonist, Chuck Rhodes a U.S. Attorney fueled by righteous indignation (and political ambition) stoops just as low in order to crush his nemesis. Both the main characters are portrayed as ruthless, power-hungry and successful in large part due to their killer instincts.
While the series is a dramatization of real-life events and individuals, in reality business is often experienced as this kind of battleground, dog-eat-dog world where only the most ruthless survive.
In this article we examine the culture of business and the reasons business is so often seen as a battle. We discuss an alternative framework for operating in the world of commerce. We also highlight the many benefits of raising one’s love quotient and applying a heart-centered approach to business.
There are many reasons business is seen as a fight for survival and why for many the battle is real. Some of those reasons include the instinct to fight when challenged, how we manage the inherent risk of doing business, and cultural influences.
While our basic physiological needs include things such as shelter, food and access to medical care, once these have been provided for our emotional needs become a priority. The need for love, connection, affirmation and respect are at the forefront; so it is fair to say that we are all motivated to some extent by our emotional needs.
Most of the time these emotional needs are healthy, such as the need to provide for our loved ones and to create financial stability for the future. However, in some instances our emotional needs have been shaped by negative past emotional experiences and thus we may be unconsciously motivated by pain, loneliness, shame or fear. If, for example, we received little love or acceptance in our early years we may be driven by the need for affirmation or if we grew up poor and this caused us shame or embarrassment we may crave for financial independence or wealth.
When we carry emotional weight in the form of pain or fear such factors could be what drive us to set and strive towards our goals. Moreover, these emotions may determine the path we take in getting to where we are going. It is likely that these unfelt negative emotions, which are present on an individual basis, could be one factor which fuels a fight-based business culture.
Later in this article we will discuss the role of love in releasing these unfelt emotions and how we can continue to pursue our goals and take action rooted in love.
We know that the basic economic principle upon which business is based in that of risk and reward. Something must be ventured in order for a reward to be earned. The level of risk varies throughout a business’s life cycle but it is never eliminated.
Young enterprises face plenty of risk as new entrants striving to break even while established businesses continue to face challenges from competitors, the economic environment, legislative changes and so on. Even monopolies face the risk that technological innovation may render their products and services obsolete.
In an environment where risk is a daily reality it is understandable that there is at least some level of fear or anxiety at almost all levels of an organization.
A natural fear born out of the inherent risk of enterprise is amplified by a tendency to attack when challenged. In our article Ending the Fight Against Life we talked about all the ways in which the reptilian part of our brains, commonly known as the “lizard brain” cause us to respond to stressful situations with a fight-or-flight response. This is the instinct which keeps us alive in a kill-or-be-killed world. It helps to be aware of this instinct and to note that the neocortex, when activated can override this instinct.
Many times we take on a fight-based business paradigm, not because we want to but we because it is all we know. If that it all we have been exposed to, that this is way business operates, there may be an unawareness that business can actually be done differently.
An aggressive warlike business mentality has settled into our collective consciousness and is reflected in the way we speak, think and act. We often use phrases such as battle-cry, marching orders and revolutionary in a business context. In-fact the use of battle terminology to describe business tactics, strategies and campaigns has become so common that the language seems almost benign.
So much of business is viewed as a battle or a war that the well-known book, The Art of War, by Sun Tzu has been called a “business strategy bible”. War manuals such as A Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi and Machiavelli’s The Prince are other examples of highly quoted texts which have informed and influenced management theory for decades. Our application of these texts within the economic landscape continues to feed a fear-based fight-or-flight mindset.
Lessons taken from books such as The Prince are used to justify discarding corporate ethics in an effort to succeed at all cost. The oft-touted phrase “the ends justify the means” is attributed to Machiavelli. While not actually appearing in The Prince the phrase captures the essence of Machiavellian leadership. The paradigm proposed in this 500-year-old-text is at the crux of modern corporate culture where this type of thinking is all too common.
It may be unresolved emotional weight, fear born of risk, the instinct to fight when challenged or perhaps it is a combination of these factors which has attracted us to strategic instruction in business rooted in a war or fight based mentality. In addition to the above, many of us have experienced business as a battle thus confirming our belief that business is a battle in-which we need to fight in order to grow our careers and/or businesses.
Our experiences inform our beliefs and perceptions. When we believe something is a battle or a fight we will have a tendency to view things as such. Furthermore, when we wear armor and we are ready and on the lookout for a fight, we will usually find one. The result is a business culture in which executives at all levels are inclined towards fight-or-flight, Machiavellian thinking.
In this section we have examined some of the factors which contribute to a fight-based business paradigm. While some of the causes are external, such as the inherent risk of doing business and the cultural tendency to behave in a fight like manner, others stem from internal factors such as unresolved emotional pain and fear. If we are driven by pain or if our reactions are fear-based, we unwittingly contribute to the perpetuation of a fight-based business mentality.
Being in a fight-based paradigm does not feel very good, neither is it very kind or loving towards ourselves. In this state self-care and self-love are depriotized because we tend to focus all of our attention and energy on the fight in front of us.
Often when we are gearing up for a battle or engaged in a fight, we tend to tighten up internally. We tense up and our bodies are placed under stress for the duration of the fight. We also experience greater uncertainty when there is a threat looming thereby increasing our level of emotional stress. Furthermore, much of our focus is channeled towards the fight we are in.
The impact of an ongoing and drawn out battle, such as the battle many of us experience in business, can become physically, emotionally and mentally taxing.
Unfortunately, much of today’s corporate environment is overly stressful and has a negative impact on the quality of life which employees experience. We did an in-depth exploration of this topic in the article How LQ is Healing the Workplacewhere we discuss the negative impact of warlike and hostile thinking and business practice.
Most people don’t want to be a part of a conflict-driven culture. During the boom years of the eighties ruthlessness was widely viewed as a virtue and rewarded. An external fight-like approach to business was mirrored within the confines of the organization. Internal departments had beef with one another and colleagues were at one another’s throats.
In our previous article Ending the Fight Against Life, we talk about situations where somebody is coming at us with a fight and when we fight back it escalates. Often, that’s how it works in business too. If we’re going through life or business always ready to fight or thinking a fight is imminent then that’s what we will most likely get.
If we’re always looking at things as a battle, when we see an attack coming our way we’re going to respond through words or actions which most likely will meet or exceed the level of attack at hand. The instinct to protect ourselves kicks in and we go on the offensive.
In the same scenario, a person with a high love quotient or a person developing their LQ, may choose to respond in an open and vulnerable yet direct way. This creates a greater opportunity to completely diffuse the situation because of the space and the energy they’re approaching it with.
In this section we have looked at the social and cultural impact of a fight-based business paradigm. We also explored the influence this approach has on the individual and have a better understanding of how fight-based behavior gives rise to an ongoing battle. In the next section we consider an alternative to a fight-based business approach.
“Business is a competition, and competition is fun. Business is not like a battlefield—you die or I win. Business, even if you die, I may not win.”Jack Ma, Davos 2015
The paradigm that business is a battle can be attributed to some extent to our fight-or-flight instinct. In the past this instinct was vital to survival. However, with industrialization, technological innovation, an increase in travel and communication the world has become smaller and more connected and society as a whole is moving towards greater harmony and civilization.
We are at a place where business, commerce and industry no longer need to be seen as a battle. It is time for a new paradigm to emerge. One which can be embraced by business owners, industry leaders, managers and employees at all levels. This paradigm is accessible through how deeply we have embodied love.
Love heals pain. Where there is unresolved pain it causes us to operate in a reactive way. When we are taking action from a place of pain or fear, we can’t be objective because our judgement is clouded by emotion. As long as there is unhealed pain or fear we are always going to be responding from that place of pain because it hurts or that place of fear because it unsettles us. Love enables us to heal the pain and stop reacting from a place of fear so that we can respond in a more conscious and objective way. This is one of the most tangible and practical applications of love in all areas of life.
When we begin to infuse ourselves with love, it changes our perspective. As we raise our love quotient, we no longer need to view business as a battleground and we can begin to respond differently and from a more evolved place in our brain. We can take in the exact same circumstances, process them and not feel threatened by them.
“We don’t fight our way to solution. We love our way to resolution.”Matt Kahn
When we as individuals adopt a love-based paradigm, we contribute to ending the fight in business. As we do so others will be inspired and will follow spreading this new paradigm through the business world. Even if others are slow to adopt a friendlier approach to business, it is still worth making the change for the individual benefits that arise out of a love based paradigm, some of which are discussed in the section below.
When we as leaders, professionals or employees are increasing our LQ’s we will gradually see the landscape around us changing. We might begin by seeing the world of business as a battlefield, with nuclear level attacks coming at us and then as we raise our love quotient, we may still find ourselves in a battle but it’s not the same magnitude as it was before. As we raise our LQ’s even further we begin to see more agreeable world on the other side. A world that is bringing us everything that we want, need and desire.
When we have stopped seeing business as a battle or a fight we see things through a more objective lens and become aware of new opportunities, fresh approaches and creative solutions to the challenges we face. When we begin to see the landscape as a space where we don’t have to fight for opportunities, we can conduct business in a more eased and relaxed way. Because we are more relaxed and less stressed, we begin to notice opportunities where previously we had only seen adversity. The reality of how we see things changes according to how much we have embodied love and raised our LQ.
In a high LQ business paradigm we can operate from a space in-which we have a clear and calm energy, where we can continue to drive our careers and businesses forward without stepping into a battle. Where, even when faced with an attack, we don’t automatically fight back. Instead, we respond deliberately and consciously. In this objective space, a variety of different responses become available to us. While we may still grow our business and/or careers, establishing ourselves as industry leaders and expanding our market share, we stop seeing our colleagues or competitors as a threat and have no need to do battle with them.
Typically, when operating within a fight-based paradigm vulnerability is viewed as a weakness. However, as we raise our love quotient, we begin to see vulnerability as a strength. Vulnerability enables us to have better relationships, make more meaningful connections and grow as individuals. It takes strength and courage to be direct without being threatening. The ability to be honest and vulnerable cuts through all the posturing and can elevate the playing field to one of harmony and cooperation.
Berny Dohrmann, Chairman and Founder of CEO Space International has been a leading light in the area of cooperative capitalism. CEO Space provides coaching and networking opportunities for entrepreneurs and professionals around the world. The forum has helped thousands of individuals to grow their businesses and is a great example of what we can achieved through cooperation.
In business as in life the paradigm shift from a fight-based paradigm to a love-based paradigm is made possible when we change our perspective from fighting for something to standing for something. The actions we take may be similar in both situations but the space from which our actions emerge is different.
In one scenario we have a high level of stress to contend with because we’re in constant fight mode whereas in the other we would be a stand for our company’s mission. We would still be committed to growing our businesses, expanding our company’s market share and promoting our capabilities, products and services, but we would do so from a healthier and more powerful space as love is more powerful than fear. In this way we can become a stand for the impact we’re looking to make without trying to hurt the other or motivate them into action via fear.
High LQ leadership is learning how to be ready for opposition at any moment but also opening up a space in-which we can be at ease and view things objectively, where we have access to our emotions and vulnerability is fully present.
As our consciousness evolves and we envelop ourselves with more love, we’re not letting go of the need to be prepared for an attack, we’re just saying we don’t need to operate from a place of fear in everyday life.
As executives, entrepreneurs or employees who are operating with high LQ’s and developing our love quotients, we will be less likely to obsess and worry about the possibility of an attack. We will however have an awareness of possible vulnerabilities and take measures to protect ourselves and our companies.
As prudent businessmen we will, for example build good relationships with customers and suppliers. We will be aware of areas where our competitors have a stronger foothold than ourselves. We will have contracts in place, our IT networks will be secure and we will have policies and procedures which have employees doing their part to ensure the security of the firm’s IP and data. And depending on your personal situation and industry it may be appropriate to have physical security available or employ counterintelligence measures.
This is simply smart business and represents a balanced approach to the realities of commerce.
Loving and having a high LQ doesn’t mean you don’t stop being smart and prepared in business. It would be foolish to think that love protects you from the realities of business. Smart business protects you from the realities of business.
Before we can move out of the battlefield, we must love the one who has battled and been wounded. For many of us getting to where we are has been a fight. The pain we carry from those experiences is as real to us as the threats we face today. This unresolved pain from past battles, until healed and resolved will prevent us from fully being able to step into this new paradigm. Part of making the transition into the new paradigm is acknowledging the past because until we have actually acknowledged how much pain we’ve suffered from being in the battlefield we can’t effectively move into a new plane of reality. Acknowledging this pain and loving ourselves through the pain, will help heal and resolve it so that one can transition out of the battlefield.
Loving yourself allows you to feel safe in your own body. The more deeply we love ourselves, the more it enables our capacity to feel all these unfelt emotions so that we can allow them to be released from our bodies. We create a new relationship with these emotions. When we infuse our bodies with love, we can move into a place where we no longer fear or avoid negative emotions. By increasing our love quotient we evolve into a higher level of consciousness so when these emotions come up again we have a different response and will be able to fully feel them so that they can move through us instead of being held in the body.
When we operate within a fight-based business paradigm, we feed our insecurities and take action rooted in fear or pain. By sustaining a constant state of conflict, we risk burning out and our ability to think and act objectively is compromised. However, when we no longer have to fight for prosperity, a space emerges for achieving even greater success in a way that actually feels good.
We can leave behind the old fear-based business paradigm and adopt a new and lasting love-based business paradigm which benefits employees, shareholders and society at large.
We can develop our love quotient and love ourselves so that we’re not always operating from a place of fight. When we raise our LQ and shift our perspective to one which serves our highest purpose, we begin to see that action rooted in love can better enable us to reach our objectives. When our vision and mission are aligned with our motives and those motives are rooted in needs and desires originating from our most authentic selves, i.e. not influenced by negative internal or external factors; we find that pursuing our business goals becomes a pleasure and that we are happier and more fulfilled.
Developing your love quotient empowers you to approach business in the most conscious way to create the opportunity for an outcome that serves your business and everyone involved in the greatest way, thus ending the war in business and bringing forward an entirely new business paradigm.