Regardless of your religious affiliation or spiritual beliefs, there are benefits to bringing a kind of Zen to the way you approach business.
Here are four ways to integrate a “Buddha mentality” into your entrepreneurial endeavors:
1. Remove yourself from the equation. In The Four Agreements, author Don Miguel Ruiz outlines four foundations to enlightened living based on the spiritual teachings of the Toltecs. The four agreements
are: choose words carefully, don’t take anything personally, assume nothing, and always strive to do your best.
Although the book isn’t a business guide, The Four Agreements offers a counterbalance to the inherently ego-driven and competitive reactions that entrepreneurs may view as a strength. By altering the ways you approach professional situations and your peers, you can achieve different outcomes than your “go to” instincts yield. As a result, you may learn things you never imagined, and find new allies and opportunities.
2. Be grateful. Adopting the Buddhist mind-set that where you are right now is exactly where you are supposed to be can teach you to roll with the proverbial punches of owning a business. Instead of clinging to past achievements and failures (like how much more money you made last year), take the good and bad moments for what they are, recognizing that every day is a gift — and a chance to do things differently.
The next time you’re stuck in traffic or waiting for a client to join a conference call, recite a mantra of gratitude, such as this one written by self-mastery guide Gary van Warmerdam: “Thank you for so many experiences and so many things. Thank you for this Dance. Thank you, Life.” Practicing gratitude can help you put the ups and downs of running a business into perspective.
3. Become what you admire. The Buddhist scripture known as “Advice from Atisha’s Heart” teaches people not to be jealous of others’ good qualities, “but out of admiration, adopt them yourself.”
Consider the business leaders globally and locally whose actions or deeds invoke an emotional reaction within — and why. If you’re a Steve Jobs fan, for example, perhaps you’re holding yourself back from a drive to innovate or have avoided taking risks out of fear of judgment or failure. If there is a competitor whose success makes you angry, think about what they’ve done well that you’d like to emulate instead of turning to negative thoughts.
4. Behave with integrity. The Buddhist tale of “The Steadfast Parrot” tells of Shakra, king of the gods, who reduces a once-bountiful fig tree to dead branches after hearing a parrot pledge its commitment to the tree. Though the tree no longer offers the parrot reward or refuge, the bird stays loyally perched on it, true to its word. Observing this commitment, the king brings new life to the tree, telling the parrot that “the whole universe is brought to life by a steadfast and faithful heart.”
Owning a business constantly presents new opportunities, times of loss, and changes to relationships. Although it’s important to earn a living, loyalty and integrity can be just as important as profits and revenues.