Adapting spirituality to find a blue ocean

9 June 2015 03:25 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Which leadership style succeeds? There is no one answer. There is a suggestion that a leader must have a mixed flavour of task and human orientation. If so, are such leaders born or trained? Yet, there is no answer except for heaps of theories spelling out case studies and citing leadership and management styles that led to success in the past with or without relating relevant circumstances.
A known business leader at a seminar probably in 2006 said, “A business leader must be like Prabhakaran.” Obviously this was attributing success to a ‘ruthless style’ of managing an organisation. We all know how Prabhakaran’s vision of Eelam crashed with his style compelling every quarter to defeat him. 
On the other hand, the tycoon Richard Branson said something similar to the effect – “The working culture of my organisation is resting on the understanding of the subordinates placing myself in their shoes.” This is truly spiritual as such a thing would have only come out of the ones par excellence such as the Buddha and Jesus Christ. 
The practical approach of Branson is reflected when he said just three months ago “almost all drug use should be decriminalised in the UK, following the example of Portugal.” No logical explanation can be given for this except that the drug use is said to have dropped in a few countries after it was legalized for personal consumption.   
Humanity and practicality are some aspects that have lingered into some successful businesses and someday such aspects will be taught in schools apart from temples and churches. Spirituality is rising in the modern world and the business communities are gradually but steadily embracing. 
Originally, spirituality was a search for the sacred - search for a transformation in life. But in modern times, the spiritual seekers ‘seek’ an experience through some activity. They look for some kind of freedom, liberation or at least a blissful moment that can be prolonged.  
Houtman and Aupers have suggested that modern spirituality is a blend of humanistic psychology, mystical and esoteric traditions and eastern religions. But that notion too is changing with the emergence of personalities such as Rupert Spira, Tony Parsons, Lisa Cairns, Jeff Foster, Adyashanti, Ekhart Tolle and Naho Owada. 
The current spiritual ‘market’ is worth probably over billions of dollars. This includes the tourism aspect, which involves travel accommodation to wherever spiritual discourses are held.  Travellers pay a fortune to attend retreats only to realize ironically that freedom that is searched and sought after had never left them.  
There is an emerging trend that inevitably draws attention of both spiritual and non-spiritual seekers who are trying to find ways and means of getting out of the stress, anxieties, worries, anger, hatred that cause nothing but suffering. Suffering therefore exists in all forms, which is more conspicuous in the business world than in any other fields.
Today’s business, whatever it may be, is conducted in a stiff competitive environment. The business leaders need to find strategies to be different from the competitors and nowadays they speak of ‘finding a blue ocean’ with no sharks - meaning, no competitors.
Does the message of modern spirituality give an answer to the issues in the business world or is it that everyone waits until they reach old age and become feeble to seek solace in spirituality?  Or is it an assumption that the human beings have to choose between spiritual or business life?
An unhappy, stressed out, anxious employee can hardly be innovative or productive. Sadly, placing the subordinates under pressure, getting them to work late hours shattering their family routines are considered business virtues with the belief that such approaches lead organisations to success without accepting that an idea in a spur of a moment can change the entire fate of an organisation either way.
Another belief is to send the employees on leadership or motivational programmes with the idea that they will perform better after they return. With due respect to the ones who are conducting such projects, the writer once learned, when invited for a talk to a sales force of an organisation, that the main reason for the demotivated staff is the unrealistic targets given to them. Spirituality, which deals with the true nature of life and the world, is no longer looked at as a negative aspect in business. It is time that business organisations opened themselves up for opportunities  through spirituality (not spiritual development as there is no such thing) just as much as they are regularly offered leadership and motivational programmes.  
 (Vipula Wanigasekera is a former senior diplomat, CEO of the Convention Bureau, Lecturer in Tourism and author of ‘Pointers to Enlightenment’) 
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