01 Nov Conscious Business as a Transformative Practice (Part One)
Within every culture throughout history, people have developed modes of economic exchange. Today, business is the dominant institution in the world. Engaging in business encompasses a vital flow of commerce, global exchange, means of livelihood, and the lifeblood of many people who define themselves through their work. Business is a common denominator in our complex and interconnected world. It is also an institution that is experiencing profound transformation that is shaking everyone’s worldview. This is the first in a series of blogs about the application of research on transformative practices on the development of conscious business and leadership.
For many, the changes that are occurring in business are frightening and destabilizing. Economic volatility, rampant corruption, changing technologies, and the very conduct of business has disrupted the steady state of lived experience, personal identity, and social relations. Unemployment, international competition, automation that makes humans redundant in the workplace, environmental degradation, and increasingly inequitable power relations are challenges to the very core of our shared humanity.
While such transformations can be painful, challenges in the global workplace can also be a call to personal and organizational growth. Learning from both science and spirituality, it is clear that deep disruptions in life and work can trigger new ways of being and knowing about self and the world. They may facilitate a tipping point toward a more sustainable and prosocial life and livelihood. As noted by former writer and aikido master, George Leonard, we have the opportunity to “take the hit as a gift.”
Key to positive transformation is an awareness of how worldviews shape human experience and collective enterprises. Worldviews are the lenses of perception through which people know and relate to self and other. They inform people’s assumptions, values, and beliefs. While powerfully important, worldviews are largely buried deep below the threshold of conscious awareness, functioning on a kind of autopilot that informs every action and reaction in every domain of human experience.
Worldviews are shaped by upbringing, culture, education, biology, and environment. Worldviews also direct people’s actions and behaviors. They are expressed through different ways of knowing and being in the world. These include subjective, first personal experiences such as feelings and self-reflections, intersubjective or shared cultural meanings, and objective social, political and economic forms of social exchange.
Worldviews are not static. Through the course of human development, different perspectives morph in small and large ways; the priorities people hold as teenagers are typically transformed as they grow and mature. But it is also true that people experience transformations that completely shift their core sense of self and other—expanding their basic understanding of reality.
As noted by psychologist Frances Vaughn: “transformation…is not simply a change in your point of view, but rather a whole different perspective of what’s possible.” By bringing awareness and knowing to the exploration of worldviews, positive transformations can be learned and actively applied in everyday practice—both inside and outside the workplace. Of course, this requires fundamental shifts in the way individuals experience and relate to themselves and others.