Enlightenment, empowerment and evolution do not constitute a strategy. There is not a “system” for true evolution. Yes, most success stories have a foundation of crystal-clear goals wrapped in an SMR strategic plan. But a well-formed strategic plan will not get you to true “we’ve made it” status without a measure of enlightenment.
Strategic planning is an organization’s process for defining its direction.
Strategy involves fundamental choices about organizational direction. Most business owners can confidently say, “check that box.”
Planning involves setting goals, determining actionable steps to achieve the goals and mobilizing resources to execute the plan. Fewer than half of the business owners we work with can honestly say, “check that box.”
We’ve met many business owners who have nailed, even exceeded, every goal they’ve set, yet they still operate day in and day out with a constant hum running through their chests (and minds), a high-octane “what’s next” fever. In our opinion, the reason for the infinite search is because there is an inherent disconnect. They have mastered every tool and uncovered virtually every strategy, but they are not centered; they are not present. Oh yes, they are present to every conversion rate and metric, and they have crunched data like the best actuary on Wall Street. But they are not present to the practice of strategy or planning.
That is where the enlightenment comes in. Webster defines enlightenment as the state of having knowledge or understanding: the act of giving someone knowledge or understanding regardless of tradition or religion. Buddhism defines enlightenment as: a final spiritual state marked by the absence of desire or suffering.
We are not talking about the religious connotation. We are talking about the business connotation.
And this in our opinion is the crux of the obsession with “bigger, better, more” – it’s just because we are scared to death to stop and achieve “the absence of desire.” When you finally pause and get off the “wanting more” train, that is where true, intentional, easy growth (enlightenment) occurs, from a place of less is more.
You read stories every day in the arts industry of musicians who are homeless and penniless, living in their van by the river. They have nothing but presence, time and stillness on their hands. There is nothing but surrender and “sharpen the saw.” It is practice (enlightenment) vs. strategy (put your head down and don’t stop). And the next chapter of the story goes like this: making the money, doing what they love and ever so present to it, and consistently powering down to reflect, refine and recourse. It is the truest example of strategic planning that leads to evolution.
To be honest, the stories I am most inspired by have zero strategy but a truckload of enlightenment and refinement. Yes, strategy has its place, but if we’re constantly muscling through from a place of strategy and planning, then we are missing out.
Evolving starts internally, not externally. Goals, strategy and planning are the “doing” piece, external. Evolving is an inside job. Evolving is about exploring with eyes wide open, being fully present. It’s not the habits but the practice. You grow when you practice; the visceral, in-your-bones part where you pause in-between each goal, each strategy, and refine. Evolving is surrendering to the when. Strategy is being suffocated by the when. It’s all about finding the center to eradicate the fight or flight of bigger, better, more.
Evolvement is about letting go – where you venture within, check in, and ask:
• “What’s the trophy? Is it growing 4x just for the sake of saying we did it? is it because I want an empire and multiple locations and people to manage? Or is it the money?
• Is it the financial freedom to eventually retire and get the checks sent to the beach? Does it need to be the empire model? Or can I create the residual income without the headaches (sorry, those don’t go away when you’re CEO and it’s “your problem”) with a less-is-more approach?
• Where do I need to let go in order to grow? What do I need to let go of (REALLY let go) to move to the next version of me, NOT just the business?
• WHY do I want to grow?
• What will I do to find and maintain my center/balance? What practices will I put into my weekly world to pause and check in?
This is the CRUCIAL piece. You must check in with the next version of YOU as well as evolving the business. Most often we stop at the obvious, the where. But when we get deeply curious and dive deeper, in our experience that is where the strategy and the evolvement meet.
The thing with strategy alone is, we don’t know what we don’t know, and we don’t ever stop. The practice of “stopping” at each stage of our journey is critical. That’s when we receive the energetic, heart-centered connection with the strategy and finally feel the ease and joy. Every single damn day. Regardless of the drama, crises and breakdowns all around us. Because it becomes a way of being.
I recently had a very successful client working on his “next level” while on summer sabbatical. “When I finally got all my ducks in a row, I realized they’re not even my ducks,” he told me. Being present is the most important ingredient to the evolution of your business.
You know you’re on the right path to growth when your path involves a what (strategy), a how (planning) and the why (enlightenment). The integration of the three is where the evolvement/growth serves as your true north – and the next level is not what we get, it’s who we become.
And that’s when (not if) a big ass wrench is thrown into your strategy, but it won’t take you down. There is no crisis because you know you’re resourceful enough to deal with the confusion and uncertainty and then refine and recourse. Our culture teaches that there is no place for the pause, you must keep going; but our equation is to sit with the confusion, uncertainty and connect with your heart – your heart has the answer. But if you’ve never positioned the heart-and-soul piece, it won’t serve you in a crisis.
In successful businesses, you often hear the statement “the heart and soul of the business”; that is when you know they get that the growth came from evolving and from strategy.
If you’re struggling with putting the strategy, the planning and the enlightenment together, reach out to us for a complimentary business strategy session at https://www.hiringandempowering.com/contact-us/.