Metanoia is a metaphysical term coined from two Latin words that translate roughly to "above the mind." A metanoia is a fundamental shift in thinking, like the one my mentor Byron Katie had when she realized no stressful thought that she believed was true. At one time Katie made a lot of money buying and selling real estate. Today she is swiftly becoming a household name because she gives her main product away for free (yours for the taking at www.thework.com), and yet I understand she does quite well. For those of us with the traditional "buy low, sell high" mindset, it doesn't make sense. And yet, look what that mindset did for us in the early part of this new millennium.
In business as in life—even when our old paradigms are no longer working—we often have a fear of radical shifts, because it would mean...well, whatever horror stories our minds can concoct: we'd go down the drain, lose everything...our money, our credibility, our position, our best people, our structure.
We don't usually stop and question these beliefs. We don't normally ask ourselves if the opposite could be true...to consider that if we changed, everything could get better.
Every entrepreneur and business leader wants to be a visionary, an innovator, and a person of integrity...and every business has its share of nay-sayers, including the would-be change-manager. It's natural to doubt. We cling to what is familiar, even if it does not make us happy.
Many businesses prosper doing business as usual, and that's fine; what we might want to question is this: is it true that we'd be less profitable, less successful, if we made the changes we'd like to? Some of our greatest business leaders today are metanoiacs. Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop, created a huge international company that prospers despite (or because of) her dedication to human rights, animal rights and environmental issues. Paul Hawken, founder of Smith & Hawken and Datafusion, is known around the world as one of the leading proponents of ecological corporate reform. The world-class Gillette Company has spent tens of millions of dollars to develop alternatives to animal testing and it sells razors and shaving cream like crazy. Southwest Airlines proved that "leadership at every level" is a workable paradigm.
The next time you find yourself hesitant to shake things up a bit, before you change your mind, I invite you to sit with your discomfort. Whether it's something seemingly small, like instituting a company-wide policy to use only recycled paper products...or something huge, like a re-org...put the "yeahbuts" and "whatifs" on paper and question them. "It's too expensive." "It will upset the shareholders." "It's too much work." "We will fail." Can you absolutely know that it's true?
Deepening Transformational Inquiry: Business Above the Mind
1. Consider this: "To risk nothing, in the long run, could be more dangerous than to risk everything."
2. Transformational Inquiry with The Work of Byron Katie can bring about metanoia, both in the way we look at our business (and life) issues and in the ways we work at and run our enterprises. With the deepening of our understanding of our greatest fears and toughest challenges in the world of work, we equip ourselves for whatever comes our way, from management shake-ups to exponential growth.
3. Learn the basics of self-inquiry. Visit ClearLifeSolutions.com to find out about Transformational Inquiry with The Work...four simple questions followed by a "turnaround," or reversal. Subscribe to our newsletter and receive your free report on inquiry in the workplace. Try it with one of the "shoulds" in your work life and notice how clarity happens when we're not married to being right.
©2006 by Carol L. Skolnick. All rights reserved.