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Are spirituality and profitability mutually exclusive?

19 February 2015 04:37 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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It was not long time ago that Google Inc invited Eckhart Tolle to address her employees.Needless to say that Google is one of the few businesses in the history that have had a profound impact on human life in a short period. Just one and a half decades ago, Google’s search engine, (now used globally over 100 billion times a month) did not even exist!!

It was perhaps timely for Eckhart Tolle , to address Google staff when on the one hand the company was claiming t hat they aspire to develop ‘ epic stuff’ to make a difference in the world, while on the other hand admitting that they want to make sure due attention is given to ‘ Inner Technology’ of the humans attached to their organization.

‘now’
Eckhart Tolle is titled father of the ‘ now’, and what he had to say to Google in spiritual terms may have taken the staff by surprise. Eckhart, who describes the past and future being mere imaginations with t houghts connected to them, arising in the ‘ now’, revealed at the end how one could be more innovative by simply being in the now!!!

That was an astounding eye-opener t o t hem without mentioning the fact that Eckhart himself became extremely wealthy with the best seller ‘ Power of now’ , over 10 million copies of which were sold in 36 translations.

Corinne McLaughlin, the American author and educator describes in the article ‘Spirituality and ethics in business, the relationship between the two. The values and ethics are an urgent concern explicitly which makes many Corporates to come up with ‘ CSR’projects.

Some corporates ensure that regular motivational programs are attended by their employees but have so far failed to measure the exact direct outcome of such programs on performance, individually or collectively.

The ‘ triple bottom line,’ “people, planet, profit.’ emphasis on the wellbeing of the people and environment before profits. This may be seen ‘ spiritual values’ into a work place but it gives different meaning to different organizations.

McLaughlin identified spirituality in business in terms of ‘ simply embodying values of honesty, integrity, and good quality work, treating t heir co-workers and employees in a responsible, caring way, participating in spiritual study groups or using prayer, meditation, or intuitive guidance at work and making businesses socially responsible in how it impacts the environment and serves the community.

What is Spirituality?
What is Spirituality? It was defined in early days as ‘ search for the sacred’. This was based on existing theistic religions. Today’s spirituality circles around freedom from suffering and the term suffering encompasses wide range of situations that humans do not want to encounter in life such as worries, anxieties, stress, pain, anger, hatred, jealousy, depression etc. It is unlikely that those who are undergoing these situations can contribute to success of any organization.

Ironically, while the western world is not hesitant to try out the spiritual teachings to move beyond basic thinking and beliefs, Buddhists particularly in this part of the world are still indulged in ritualistic practices in spite of the fact that many Buddhist scholars are vociferous to establish that Buddhism is a philosophy and not a religion. It is in that backdrop we raise the questions ‘ are the Spirituality and Profitability mutually exclusive?

Ekhart Tolle’s address to Google in the YouTube had over half a million hits!!!. Further, one of the best quotes of Steve Jobs happens to be - Bottom line is, I didn’t return to Apple to make a fortune. I’ve been very lucky in my life and already have one. When I was 25, my net worth was $100 million or so. I decided then that I wasn’t going to let it ruin my life. There’s no way you could ever spend it all, and I don’t view wealth as something that validates my intelligence’.
Some obviously argue that organizations need to run profitably to sustain its existence. True enough, but is this profitability on par with international industry standards considering the state of the product or service life cycle or exceedingly higher than the acceptable levels to fascinate the shareholders?.

Spirituality is viewed from two perspectives viz leaders’ and followers’ view points. As heads of organizations, the yard stick may be ‘profitability ‘ and that could be a style of managing a oligopoly type or a portfolio manipulated businesses. The spirituality is not a subject that will be considered vital in such institutions whether they undertake CSR work or offer bonuses based on perceived ‘performances’.

Spirituality is seen very much in what Steve Job mentioned against fattening wealth as a religion for some business leaders. One HR head said long years ago ( before the word HR was introduced) ‘an unhappy employee cannot be productive in a business organization in the long run. So can the spirituality play a role here by simply ascertaining employee happiness index which would reveal something worthwhile.

Different turn
The modern spirituality has taken completely a different turn across the world where the core messages of the current spiritual leaders such as Ekhart Tolle, Rupert Spira, Mooji, Darryl Baily, Adyashanti, Naho Owada, Scott Kiloby, Gangajee, Burt Harding, Tony Parsons, Francis Lucill, carry just one simple concept which requires no rigorous practices like meditating weeks inside a jungle etc.

The trouble is that we do not use the word ‘profitability’ when discussing any subject on spirituality that seeks to find a way out of suffering and experience inner peace. However if employee satisfaction rate is a predominant part of profitability, the Spirituality could play a significant role for organizations to be more innovative rather than waging price wars or get involved in other tricks for survival.

It seems to be a matter of time before Spirituality is widely sought after by businesses when the marketing principle ‘ perception is reality’ is already challenged by the need to find a ‘ blue ocean’ which is an uncontested market space.

Spirituality that takes suffering out of people appears to be having a better chance of moving organizations beyond traditional aspirations thus becoming mutually complimentary to profitability that may then have a wider definition.

(Writer is former Senior Diplomat, Director - Tourist Board, Head of Tourism Development Authority and currently CEO of the Convention Bureau. He is the author of ‘ Pointers to Enlightenment’ , speaker on Spirituality and he also conducts meditation sessions for tourists seeking inner peace).
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