I attended the Conscious Capitalism conference in Barcelona last week. Have you ever thought that capitalism could be conscious or even compassionate? We are not used to think about economy, markets, capitalism in these terms. Why not? Maybe because we have been focusing on taking humanity out of hunger and starvation and as a result we built a business model based on military services with the purpose of keeping us alive. However, thinking in these terms has brought us to fight against each other or compete (a more civilised term) instead of focusing on building each other up.
Now that so many of us do not risk starvation anymore, times are mature to start focusing on building up conscious communities. We touched on this topic when Ibukun Awosika stood on stage advocating for an economy that builds up communities that work for all of us. A simple but very profound message what she shared. When our neighbours have a problem we all have a problem. It is useless to build higher fences to keep us safe when instead what we should do is help each other achieving a longer lasting and stronger wellbeing for all.
How can we then structure an economy system to create the society we want? We cannot if the well-being of certain comes at the expenses of some others. Ibukun urged us, all of us, to do something. We don’t have to save the world; we just have to pick one thing we really care about and work with others to help improve it. It can be anything, but just do it.
Raj Sisodia shared how dis-heartening the workplace has become. We have assisted to business becoming one of the major cause of suffering in the world (look at any data on stress, well-being, burnout in the workplace) and we cannot continue thinking that employees have to go to a doctor, a spa or on a mindfulness retreat to take care of this suffering. Business must become the primary cure for the suffering that it has generated. This is the sign of consciousness we are looking for and demanding of business.
We, because business is all of us, not an entity outside of us, consciously have to choose to be part of the healing not of the hurting. What would happen if we’d measure the performance of our economy based on people’s well-being and not solely on consumption? What would happen if we would ask children, as our main stakeholders, to evaluate our business performance?
Expanded consciousness comes from living a meaningful life and from minimising suffering—not just our own, but the suffering of others, as well. In simpler words we can ask ourselves one single question to help us expand our consciousness: “How am I making my money? Is it harming others? Is it hurting the Earth?” If it is, then we need to make changes to do no harm and instead create livelihood and wellbeing. We can no longer deny the desire of living a meaningful life, caring for other people and the Earth, and caring about the human spirit. And we can no longer postpone the fulfilment of such a desire to after our retirement.
Carlota Pi and Mariah Mansfelt gave me the hope that it is possible. They argue for an economic system based on purpose, on environmental stewardship, shared prosperity, and care. Their companies (both B corp certified) recognise the interdependence of people with each other and the planet. At the forefront of their work is achieving the goals of reducing inequality, sustaining the planet and supporting a meaningful life for all people. Profit becomes then a natural consequence of a purposeful work (life). The “growth” and profit of their businesses show this is not only possible but the way for the future of business.
It sounds an absurdity, but I look forward to the day I will be jobless, because a human experience of business not only was possible but became the norm. On this path of making business a human experience I will start following one of the 6 tips of "Conscious Prosperity" Tom Gardner shared: I will cold call my heroes to show my gratitude. If you get a phone call from me, you know why!