It’s a sorta no-brainer when you need help in business: flummoxed, bewildered, stuck. But what kind of help do you really need? Do you need to take a class, read books, hire a coach, or get peer-support?
It’s a big question. Without the right support and education, everything you’re working for can fall apart. But, the wrong support can be expensive, time-consuming and overwhelming. The first stage of growth: the world of education.
When you walk a spiritual path, there are different stages that a murid (‘murid’ is a Sufi word for spiritual student) goes through.
In the beginning of spiritual walking, there is a lot of foundational work that is done, learning about your ego and the tricks it plays, as well as learning the basic practices that help to control and clean the ego, such as prayers, chants, movements, fasting, etc.
In your business, when you are learning something new, there is a lot of terrain to cover. Foundational nuts and bolts knowledge, and learning basic practices that help your business to thrive, and not run rampant in all directions, scattering your energy and efforts.
The second stage of growth: the world of light.
There comes a time in the spiritual life of the murid when the nuts and bolts are in place, and the heart has been emptied enough to be able to contain the light and knowing of the Divine Presence.
And, in your business, when it is solid enough to stand on its own two feet, when it is a thriving creature, there comes a time when it can also contain a deeper presence. You don’t exactly break the rules of business, but you play with them and around them, like jazz plays with the musical scales.
You always have to honor your foundational roots, but the fluidity of the light invigorates the whole with a Presence that goes beyond formula.
For one: groups. For the second: solitude.
After several years of working with hundreds of business owners, I’ve found that for the vast majority of people, the first stage is best done in a group. The feedback from many different people, the companionship of others in a similar place, the foundational nature of the knowledge being learned all adds to the momentum of the group and each individual within the group.
In any pilgrimage, you can only be accompanied so far. In the spiritual journey there comes a time when you must travel mostly alone. There is a profound surrender that is needed and you can’t take refuge with companions, but simply work intimately with a very knowledgeable guide.
Similarly, in your business, there will come a time to work with a mentor, a coach, someone who can guide you. Since you’re trying to create a thriving business, and not necessarily going for enlightenment, you don’t have to wait forever before you are ready for this stage.
It will come, sooner than you think. But, how can you tell which stage you are in, if it will be more helpful to be in a group or working one-on-one?
Ahhh… grasshopper. Let me share what I know. 🙂
Keys to being a business student
* Don’t let experience blind you.
If you are ambitious, a quick learner, or if you’ve had a lot of experience with other subjects, you may be tempted to jump directly into graduate-level learning by hiring an expensive coach, or taking some advanced, comprehensive, in-depth class. Don’t do this.
If you don’t know enough about the subject, whether it’s marketing, financial management, or website construction, to feel confident teaching a beginner’s class, then allow yourself the freedom of being the beginner.
In this case, you are going to be better off reading books and articles, listening to audio, attending teleclasses and talks. Get as much information as you can. Learn the terrain before you commit yourself too deeply.
* Don’t go it alone.
Form a study group for yourself. I’ve long been an advocate of mastermind groups, and this is a perfect example of how a no-cost peer study group can help you practice, implement, and work with what you are learning at the beginner level.
* Learning requires knowledgeable feedback.
One of the dangers of learning on your own is that it’s easy to take on a misunderstanding early in the process, and then build all of your later learning on that misunderstanding. Not a very stable foundation.
You can avoid this by augmenting your peer-supported learning through taking courses and joining forums where people you respect and can learn from are available. This will help give you crucial guidance as you put together what you need to learn.
* Bumping your head against a ceiling?
Hey, the terrain is feeling familiar. You know the ins and outs of your business, and you are getting some consistent results. Now, your choices expand.
If you enjoy working in groups, you can continue by taking advanced small-group courses. But, the time is probably drawing near when you could really use a mentor, a coach, a guide.
Someone who can connect with you personally, and challenge you beyond your complacencies. Who gets to know you well enough to point out blind spots. Who can help you with the profound transformation that comes when you expand into your greatness while supporting a deeper surrender into your humility.
Remember the first world of education where your business can find stability with the nuts and bolts. And THEN you can proceed into the second world of light, where you can find guidance to move into the humility of your business’ greatness.