Businesspeople around the world are searching for new strategies that integrate financial success with universal wisdom, value development and spiritual growth.
Leadership training, understanding how to harness our five different intelligences, maximising performance and reducing stress, all help executives at top international corporations, medical centres and universities to understand human behaviour from a perspective that incorporates Eastern wisdom with Western practicality. This view is endorsed by Eleanor F Smith, Director for South Africa with GLOCEN, a company specialising in training executives with spiritual strategies for material abundance.
In the past, Smith notes, people separated their business lives from their spiritual lives. Today and in the future, financial prosperity will come as a result of ethical decisions and the right use of money and other resources. Therefore, developing eight key virtues to live your greatest life are essential if one is to look forward to a future of prosperity and abundance.
"I begin my day even before I get out of bed by imagining the whole day, practising The Technique to Build Goodwill, blessing every person I will deal with, including my boss," says Enid Flores, a business consultant and a banker in Puerto Rico. "Then, I try to exemplify to my co-workers, boss, clients and others that I believe in win-win business solutions. I want people to know that I am trustworthy."
Sometimes, situations arise when it may seem that the expedient thing to do is to withhold information from those who may be perceived as competitors. For example, Flores notes that some of her co-workers say representatives from governmental or non-profit agencies should be considered competitors.
Flores, however, encourages dialogue with other officials. Instead of trying to evade the conversation or provide only half-truths about the micro-financing programme she is associated with, Flores decided to send a brief letter sharing information about the project with her counterpart. "I can trust her," says Flores, "because I know she also has good values."
The result - officials from the private sector and non-profits as well as her superiors are confident they can trust Flores' discretion when handling sensitive information and forming strategic partnerships that benefit all sides.
Objectivity and practicality
How is this possible in the world of business? For Flores, a well-paid executive, who has been in the banking industry for more than 14 years and an attorney specialising in banking matters, spirituality is not divorced from her work life. Her sense of values, virtues and purpose define her spirituality, which in turn permeates her business life.
Flores, who held traditional views that people needed lots of collateral before they could be trusted to repay their loans, she now heartily embraces the micro-credit model of the grameen bank [village bank], established in 1983 by Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus in Bangladesh.
The World Bank and social entrepreneurs now give small loans to people who otherwise have no access to credit. Of the borrowers, 97 per cent are women and 99 per cent pay back their loans. Thanks to the loans, they are able to send their children to school, to give their families three meals a day and to upgrade their housing by encouraging entrepreneurial-fuelled economic development.
The programme Flores administers plans to give small loans to people so that they can buy sewing machines and raw materials necessary for small-scale cottage industries that have the potential to improve a family's overall standard of living. In communities around the world, helping families increase their income through this type of economic programme has helped communities become more prosperous as well.
Giving money to poor people who have not had a good relationship with traditional banks was a stretch for Flores. She admits she was sceptical about the scheme until she decided to take an open-minded stance and learn more about the programmes. "I found out I was wrong. I realised we had good programmes, but they were not enough. If you don't give poor people access to money, how can their kids study? How can they go to school? How can they learn? Everything goes in a circle.
"Now, I admit I was wrong when I thought micro-credit would not work or that we did not need it. It was hard to say I was wrong. You have to have a lot of courage, especially when you are in a position of authority to say you're wrong. But, I gained more trust and respect from my co-workers and other institutions, including the government.
"It has been quite interesting. Before, I thought of spirituality as my relationship with the source of all life. Now, spirituality is also serving and transforming humanity. Micro-finance is one step we can take to transform a small island. When we empower people, that is service."
Technique to build goodwill
- Spend five minutes right after you wake up to greet your day with gratitude for life and the source of life
- Silently express your good wishes to your family and loved ones, friends, co-workers and people whom you will meet throughout the day for two minutes
- Visualise or have the intention of a good and successful day and see your whole day's activities and goals being accomplished. If you have problems, see them being resolved properly with win-win solutions for two minutes
- As you go through the day, avoid focusing on the mistakes of others and yourself. Focus more objectively on solutions and lessons to be learnt. Excessive analyses of your faults can lead to guilt, anxiety, resentment and depression. Over-brooding about others' faults can result in destructive criticism, anger and resentment.
Maintaining mental objectivity is important as you master these virtues. Remember, there is nothing wrong with green fruit. It is just waiting to ripen. Some people are like green fruit and they need time to evolve. Evolution involves many processes, which require more time.
Eight key virtues to live your life best
- Discipline and constancy
- Will-power and vitality
- Objectivity and practicality
- Group consciousness
- rtue of sacrifice
- Good health.
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