29 Nov Conscious Business as a Transformative Practice (Part Five)
There are many catalysts for conscious transformation. For many individuals and for organizations, the call to transformation can be related to a particular moment or event. For others, transformation may be a process of small steps leading to some moment when the way of conducting business is no longer viable. It can involve positive, life-affirming openings, often thought of as epiphanies or breakthroughs. More likely, the greatest portal for transformation is a painful or disruptive experience; something that upsets the steady state of everyday experience. “Business as usual” no longer fills the needs of the company or its employees.
In a time of economic and social turmoil, the discomfort of staying the same may be harder than the choice to make fundamental shifts in an individual’s or organization’s way of operating. Challenging experiences can surface a need for fundamental changes in every aspect of an organization. This may lead to new identities, roles, and responsibilities for leaders and their direct reports.
It may even speak to a fundamental shift in the company’s mission and purpose in the world. Learning to “take the hit as a gift” can be freeing for the future development of an organization and its various constituencies. Within the business leadership, this can be the call to action, the courage to move forward into unfamiliar territory. Even bottoming out can be an opportunity to find new inspiration and to embrace a broader range of possibilities through creative new contacts, ideas, or shared initiatives.
Fundamental to any transformative practice is the setting of intention. Intention is the determination to act in a certain way. One of the first steps to any conscious transformative path is personal choice—the will to change emotional volition, desire, and motivation.
In the context of noetic business practice, it is the focus on a triple bottom line, in which we seek to engage individual, social, and humanistic outcomes. Rather than experiencing the social and economic challenges as overwhelming, people can begin to invite in a new way of defining meaning and purpose in their work.
Of course, intention alone is not enough. Another key to conscious transformation in business practices is the focus on where we place our attention. People can become very entrenched in their view of the world. We often see what we expect to see and discard anything that refutes our core beliefs and values.
Business as transformational practice is the ability to question these assumptions. By making use of personal reflection, cultivating a culture of inquiry, and encouraging curiosity and playfulness, even on a busy day with many deadlines and goals, people can take a stance to see things from another point of view.
As the global business environment becomes increasingly diverse and multi-cultural, people have the opportunity to practice “cross-cultural juxtaposition,” seeing the world through other people’s perspectives. Celebrating pluralism in the workplace can not only help people develop new habits, but can lead to greater collegiality on the part of a complex workforce. It can also stimulate innovation and collaboration. By shifting their perspective—employees at every level of a company may be invited to look at the world with fresh eyes and new possibilities.
What we are seeing and what are we missing often lies below the threshold of conscious awareness. Cognitive psychologists talk about “inattentional blindness.” In controlled experiments, it has been demonstrated that where we place our attention impacts our capacity to see things that are not part of our focused awareness. Likewise, if the change is gradual, we may miss subtle and not so subtle aspects of a situation based on the cognitive tendency to identify patterns we already recognize and anticipate.
Applied to business, engaging in transformative practices increases an individual’s awareness of what they are not aware of in their everyday activities. By enhancing their cognitive flexibility, transformational business practices can lead to new insights. People may begin to notice things in a new way, paving the way to consider new perspectives and opportunities.
As Tina Seelig writes in Genius: A Crash Course on Creativity: “Creative problem solving requires acute observation. Without it, you miss incredible opportunities and important clues on the pathway to a solution…We become skilled at predicting what we will experience, and then we experience the things we predict.” By focusing intention and paying attention to our attention, we can make our business a transformative practice.
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