Do you ever wonder what life would be like if the business world was just a little kinder? A little bit more conscious and respectful of the world and people involved? Mindful business doesn’t have to be a dream, we can make it a reality.
What mindful business truly means
For years employees were taught to put their heads down and climb up the ladder at any cost. Generations of workers have been taught to focus on their careers, putting progress and promotions ahead of personal time and overall happiness. Luckily, a new wave of burnt out professionals are now spreading the word that wellbeing and mindfulness comes first. “We are the sum of those that came before us, which generally means we’ve inherited a strong work ethic and a belief that striving is the best way forward. As children we are rewarded for hard work, and most families want nothing more for us than to ‘do well’ and start out high on the ladder of life” explains Helen Rebello in her book The Magical Unfolding. “Society glorifies ‘doing’ rather than ‘being’ and we adopt the same approach to our life without realising it. We are programmed to seek accolades; learning early on that when we do well, mind our manners, get good grades, or come first, we get rewarded” she goes on. So if we have to spend so much time working and climb up that ladder, and if we can afford to choose, it only makes sense to now curate the work we’re getting involved in, curate our co-workers, curate our work environment just as much as we would curate what makes us happy in our personal life. And this is what mindful business truly means: a thoughtful approach to work which includes personal development for all involved, a positive impact on the world and respect of ethics. A strong ethos is at the core of mindful businesses, which is the primary driver behind all decisions.
How you can start a mindful business
The first step in founding a mindful business is drawing a map of what you want it to be – just like you would do with your own life. Be conscious of what makes you vibrate, what cause you want to support, who you want to serve. As yourself: What is your ethos? What are the lines you will never cross, and which impact do you want your business to have? What message, what image do you want the world to remember? How are you creating positive change? Very often mindful business rhymes with a happy life – At the heart of a mindful business lies the question of what truly makes you happy and how you would feel truly achieved. This is why it takes some time to map it out, but it will be truly worth it: you are creating a business that has purpose. As Dharma teacher and podcast host Kitty Waters explains, “You would not set off in a car without having an idea of where you are trying to get to. So often in life we let it carry us along, when actually we should be manifesting and creating it.” Visualising your ideal business works in the same way as manifesting your dream life, and they don’t have to be incompatible. You may not have all the keys now, but at least the machine is in motion. As Kitty Waters writes on her own blog, “The trick is to get clear and take massive action.”
What it means for employers
So what does it mean for bosses? Well in simple words, it means that positive impact is always a step ahead of personal gain. It means employers will put their employees’ wellness ahead of productivity. Because it turns out happy employees will actually love going to work and give their all. And if they do not put their employees’ happiness first out kindness of their heart, they should also do it for economic reasons: Just in the UK, mental illness cost £94bn last year, with half of that number related to lower employment and productivity. But being mindful of the people you work with also opens the door to infinite possibilities in terms of creativity and goal achievements. When you start to truly care about your employees, you start seeing your company through their eyes. And this is often a pretty accurate picture. Putting their personal development first also allows them to care in return, because your business accompanies them on their journey. Employees are not your property, their time within your company is the most beautiful gift your company can have: treasure it. Behind every decision, employers must wonder if this is good for their people. They must also ask whether this is contributing to a good cause, creating positive change rather than amplifying an existing problem, such as the environment. Mindful employers will always look into the ethics and sustainability standards of the people and companies they associate with, whether it is clients, vendors, freelancers, employees or even influencers.
The future of business
Is mindful business the future? Absolutely. Beyond greenwashing techniques and PR stunts, there are real businesses doing good for people and the planet, having understood this is the only way true change can operate. Having a sustainable division isn’t enough. Providing yoga classes at work isn’t enough. Change needs to come from deep within, and sit at the heart of every business decisions: from office hours to environmental impact. And for entrepreneurs, running a mindful business can be life changing, and change the perspective on the life/work balance. Once you’ve set up a business that reflects your values and ethos, and you’ve curated people sharing that mindset, people you care for and are empathetic about, not much can stop you. And if all businesses just took the risk to put mindfulness first, the world could only be a better place. So ask yourself: how can you change the world today? Which principles do you want to be vocal about? And find a way to be heard. This will attract your dream co-workers, your dream space, your dream clientele, and a mindful life that is tailor-made for you.