An Open Letter To Executives: It’s Time To Address The ‘Consciousness’ Of Your Business
The Next Frontier For All Companies
By Gretchen Fox Palmer, CEO of MTO Agency and Founder of Conscious Leadership Collective
It’s time leaders take ownership of the “consciousness” of your businesses.
For those who are quick to dismiss consciousness as some sort of spiritual woo-woo, let me offer a quick reference point for even the most scientific, analytical and skeptical amongst us.
Reflect briefly on your own inner life for a moment. Your thoughts, the conversation and sensory experiences you have within yourself, private to you. When I’m referring to your consciousness, I’m pointing to the quality of that inner dimension of yourself.
Is your inner-space a critical and judgmental experience or a still, quiet and deep state of inner peace?
Everyone is somewhere on this continuum.
It shouldn’t be a stretch to understand that the internal dynamics at play inside every human at a company and particularly its leadership team — inform the quality of the consciousness of the company itself.
It shows up in your daily communications, reactions and decisions — and most especially, as one of my most curmudgeonly mentors says, “when the shit hits the fan.”
It seeps out into teams, clients and customers, and yes, the public. Many companies do not address this below-the-surface dynamic unless and until it’s so bad that it’s become a clear and present danger to the business or of course, when the news hits the press.
There are a million miles between a conscious, healthy, thriving, triple-bottom-line and whole-human approach to business and the majority of businesses. Where is your business on this continuum and what is its trajectory?
Too many companies are operating in the Industrial Revolution age methodology: Put your head down, do your work and don’t stop for eight hours. Don’t be a complainer, don’t impact others, keep your health crisis, financial emergency, family dysfunction and personal relationships to yourself, lest they be used against you. Maximum efficiency has been the metric.
We quite literally expect people to leave parts of themselves at the door in and effort to make humans more like machines. The problem is…humans are not machines. They are complex creatures.
What happens when we try to strip away the complexity of humans? Understanding the mystery of consciousness has long vexxed scientists and philosophers.
To understand it in the business world, we need to first and foremost — stop avoiding the discussion. We have to be bold enough to investigate the unspoken space that exists between the people that touch our businesses, that sixth dimension of connection that occurs both within humans and between them. That enigmatic quality to our life experiences where non-verbal communication happens.
Think about how a single wink can carry the charge of the most direct message, downloaded straight to the mind and body. In an instant, something way beyond the tiny movement of an eyelid happens. What is that thick, rich, delicious dynamic of intent and understanding?
Or what about instinct and intuition? Where do those moments of heightened intuition and knowing come from? In the #1 National Bestseller Blink, Malcolm Gladwell describes the phenomena as “Thin Slicing,” where your mind acts as a giant computer tapping into its unconscious library.
What is all this conscious and unconscious territory? I found a single sentence in the book amongst all the data stories where Gladwell says there is a component that is frankly — a mystery.
The great mystery of that inner dimension, the constant journey of reflection and expansion, has been and continues to be the biggest adventure of my own life.
After spending the last twenty years on a deep journey of personal consciousness expanding work and thirteen years focused on transforming and building companies into authentic, transparent and socially-conscious businesses — I’ve made the biggest discovery of my career: when the five step Social System process we use to build values-based brands is combined with an active effort by the leadership team to expand and evolve their own consciousness — the path to a highly-optimized conscious company emerges.
It’s as if an electric current strikes through and enlivens the team, a lightning bolt of authentic power delivers the magical, elusive quality of real connection with the people and the business and brand. A light is turned on from the inside out.
And when we take this power and infuse it into the brand and culture of the business — we get employees who are happy, thriving and Alive at Work; clients who are happy, thriving and in a state of mutual partnership; and customers who are loyal and evangelize obsessively, tapping into the coveted and elusive exponential network effect of social media.
Yesterday, I was, once again, in a multi-hour meeting with a leadership team dealing with very tough decisions. After months working together, the client team and our agency team approached the conversation consciously: how do we get the company to the ultimate vision of an ethical, sustainable, responsible business? What changes need to be made? How do we work for the greater good of all involved?
I woke up to a message to our team that said: “I want to thank you for the open communication. I appreciate your amazing skills and am grateful to be working with you.”
This is why we do what we do.
The evolution in our understanding and approach to collective consciousness is the next frontier for all companies. Even the best, most benevolent, social good and social impact companies are only at the beginning of this potential.
Conscious Capitalism pioneer Raj Sisodia calls them “Firms of Endearment.” And its important to note: the firms of endearment featured in this book have outperformed the S&P 500 by 14 times and Good to Great Companies by 6 times over a period of 15 years.
And good news — it can happen because of you. How conscious are you? What is that inner dialogue in your head? Is it kind? Is it accepting? Is it forgiving? Or are you your worst enemy? However you answer these questions, is the constant state of nonverbal and verbal expression you are extending out into the world, to your colleagues, team and company — often times unconscious to you.
Step one: reflect on your own inner space for the next week. See if you can witness your self-talk. Notice how that affects those around you at work. If you are already actively engaged in this process, hello! I would love to hear about your experiences and add you to my soon-to-be-reactivated podcast. If you are unable to see the difference between you and your thoughts…you have a profound adventure awaiting your discovery. And this journey has the potential to positively impact everything in your life, especially your work. This is an invitation to become a conscious leader and join the Rise of Conscious Capitalism. I’m here for your awakening.