Many of my business colleagues think I may have gone a little bit hippy this year – no major goals for the first time in decades, loving my new hobby of walking the hills around where I live and wanting to savour some of the many blessings that I’m fortunate enough to have in my life – nothing could be further from the truth.
Walking in beautiful countryside has taught me that unless you stop and take time to be mindful, looking carefully at the view from time to time, listening to the sounds and feeling the breeze on your face, there really is no real pleasure in the process, beyond achieving something and reaching a destination by a certain time.
As we all know from past experience, even though we’ve always been told otherwise, the destination is usually a huge disappointment, especially one lined with trinkets that we thought would deliver happiness once in our greedy clutches. The truth is, any new acquisition feeds our ego but habituates very quickly, usually leaving an empty and unsatisfied expectation in our hearts.
Synchronistically, after studying the work of Csikzentmihalyi on how happiness is found in “flow” and Dr Seligman in the arena of positive psychology and flourishing as a human being, I’ve since found a whole new movement on “conscious business” and mindfulness. The broad tenet of all of these ideas, in my understanding, is that happiness doesn’t lie in the destination but in the ability to enjoy the present moment through being conscious and mindful more often than not.
It is my considered view that most people are semi-conscious most of the time. Head down, striving for goals that they either believe will make them happy or make their immediate superiors happy. Never satisfied until they reach the end. Well, as I read recently, when the chess game is over, the pawns, rooks, kings, and queens all go back in the same box – so the end-game might not be all it seems.
Now, whilst I’m a still a novice in this area, is resonates strongly with what my clients talk to me about whilst they’re building multi-million pound/dollar empires. Unless there is purpose and enjoyment of the journey, there is little ultimate reward.
I was lucky enough to attend a lunch this week where Paul Hannam was the speaker. He is an entrepreneur, past Oxford fellow and author. His topic? Well, Mindfulness of course. I say of course, but I didn’t know who he was of what he was going to talk about before I arrived. The synchronicity felt like more than coincidence.
The event enabled me to meet a number of entrepreneurs with similar thinking (obviously) and I now have a healthy reading list to tuck into! In case you’re interested, a couple of those books on my list are Marshall Goldsmith’s “What got you here won’t get you there”, William Whitecloud’s “Magician’s way” and of course Paul Hannam’s own writings on the subject.
My prediction? This is such a powerful idea in a world of greed, instant gratification, dog eat dog and search for purpose and meaning that it can’t fail to be the next big thing for a good number of us. The joy of pausing to admire the view in our business lives, to be grateful for what we have and enjoy the rich multi-sensory experience of the journey is worth a small percentage investment of what is ultimately our biggest constraint – our time.