“Are you awake?” I heard my husband say quietly. It was 4am.
“Yes,” I replied. “Are you worrying?”
“Let’s throw the I Ching then,” I said. This is the ancient and highly respected Chinese method of divination, one of my middle of the night survival tools, which never fails to calm me down if I am worrying, no matter what about. This time, the hexagram received was number 15, Modesty, and although I hadn’t consulted it with business in mind, later that day I began to reflect on the presence (or not) of modesty in business.
What is modesty, and can there be a place for it at all in business? TheFreeDictionary.com defines it as “having or showing a moderate estimation of one’s own talents, abilities, and value.” This might appear to go in the opposite direction to what I often say to clients, which is to value your worth, be unafraid of blowing your own trumpet, and be willing to stand out from the crowd. All of which takes considerable courage sometimes.
However, if you consider that there may be two elements to who is involved in running your business – your personality and your inner wisdom – then this statement takes on a different meaning.
Your personality, or ego, is undoubtedly the one who likes to run your business, and for the most part, that is exactly who has been running businesses for many years. The ego likes to be in charge, to do what it thinks is best, and to operate as if no-one else existed. That’s because its primary purpose is survival – its own survival. Hence you find people ignoring their own conscience, lying by omission, or taking advantage of situations or other people in order to further their own causes. There’s not much that is modest about this, and it’s humbling admitting that it happens, but all humans do it (including me and you), as it is simply part of the human condition. We have seen it operating in spades in recent years with examples of corruption in large companies, where many individual people all behaved in their own self-interest without regard for others.
However , if you are willing to include your own inner wisdom in your business decisions, and to act on that (as opposed to your ego’s advice), the result can sometimes be completely different. This often occurs when decisions are made to do exactly the opposite of what would appear to be the ‘right’ thing to do. Often, a heart-based decision looks, on paper, to be completely mad, only showing itself to be ‘sane’ at some point in the future, when you look back and say ‘Now I understand why I was doing that!’
For example, 15 months ago, I was facing probable bankruptcy from a previous business in Ireland, where we’d been caught out in the credit crunch. All the advice I was receiving was that to file for bankruptcy yourself gives you a significant advantage, rather than waiting to be forced into it by creditors. However, we threw the I Ching about what to do. And the answer was – nothing! My ego did not like this one little bit, I can assure you, and yet this is what we did.
We just waited to see what would happen. To cut a long story short, we didn’t file for bankruptcy, and we were not made bankrupt either – the whole situation was resolved in a completely miraculous way (something my
limited mind would never have been able to imagine). If we had done the apparently ‘sensible’ thing, I would have felt (relatively speaking) in control; my ego would have been in charge. As it was, we took a very modest action indeed – doing nothing – and consequently had to then cope with all the feelings that that brought up. Not an easy path to take perhaps, and not even the one that is right for everyone in a similar situation, but it proved right for us in the end.
To run your business co-creatively with your inner wisdom requires courage, commitment and consistency.
Courage – because not many other people are doing this, and you will likely be regarded as quite mad if you talk about it (hence the need to have colleagues on the same path).
Commitment – because this path is one of small steps, often appearing to take a roundabout route to your destination, whereas the ego thinks the only way is straight there (and fast while you’re at it).
Consistency – because listening and acting on your inner wisdom needs to be done regularly in order for you to build up a calm confidence in this way of working.
If you are interested in building your business co-creatively in this manner, but have never tried it before, I suggest starting small! In some of the smaller decisions that have to be made, take some time out to consult your own inner wisdom (or perhaps the I Ching – I use Carol K. Anthony’s A Guide to the I Ching, which is an interpretive manual to the classic translation, and easy to understand). When you have received an insight, take action on it and see what happens – and then let me know!
Jane Duncan Rogers, aka “The Spiritual Business Coach,” helps small businesses to improve their performance in all areas by working co- creatively with spirit. For a taste of what she offers, sign up to receive her free weekly email ‘Spirit of RichThinking’, plus a copy of her free report ‘7 Steps to Thinking Rich’ at www.richthinkers.co.uk.