Last month, I wrote about the spiritual task of finding your purpose as an entrepreneur. As a follow up, I’d like to talk about what comes next—building your business and the inner peace to meet each challenge that comes with it. Even though marketing services are technically what my team and I provide at Light Vision Group, I’ve found that it’s almost impossible to do the technical stuff well without talking about their mindset and what keeps them going every day. Building a business is stressful, and unfortunately, there are always new problems around the corner! As I have come up against these challenges in my own career, I’ve found that meditation and relaxation practices have helped me keep my mind clear and focused on my goals instead of letting stress take over.
Recently I’ve been inspired by Ajahn Brahm’s talk on Success Without Stress, which I found on
the Buddhist Society of Western Australia’s YouTube channel. He begins by shattering any illusions you might have about how peaceful a monk’s life must be, detailing the tasks that make up his busy days. It reminds me a bit of how entrepreneurship probably looks to someone on the outside: we sit alone at our computers, doing client work and answering emails all day (or night), working whenever we want and getting to “be our own boss.” But in that solitude, that’s when stress can really slow you down and derail your long-term goals.
These three insights from Brahm’s talk show how mindfulness helps with that day-to-day stress:
Focus on the Present
As Brahm reveals, the practice of meditation strengthens your ability to stay present in the moment, and this skill is the secret to keeping all kinds of stress at bay. He shares a personal story from the days before he became a monk: when Brahm was studying at Cambridge to become a physicist, he had to undergo an intense six-day examination. His lunch periods were excruciating because he was anxious about his performance in the morning and still had another three hours of exams in the afternoon. So instead of sitting with the other students and feeding that stress, he went home to meditate. Think about the biggest stressors in your business: are any of them happening in the present? Brahm’s message for you is that “the examination paper of your past is in.” You can’t change it, and you won’t always know exactly how to prepare for the future. For those instances when you don’t know how to prepare, rest is the best preparation.
Cultivate Inner Peace
Reacting to everything going on around you will never lead to much progress toward your goals, but it will leave you worn out. Brahm found that being present in his body and brain allowed him to notice the physical symptoms of stress before they spiraled out of control so he could choose to relax instead. However, he also found that the journey to inner peace was more like running a marathon than simply choosing the right attitude. After a lot of practice turning inward to connect with the peace within, he realized just how noisy the outer layer of mind was.
Learn what’s Useful
The talk ends with a story about a professor and a sailor—I won’t give you all the details, but the point lies in the very different ways these two characters approached their expertise. Are you learning things just for the sake of knowing, or are you learning things that will really help you and your clients on a daily basis? While the professor is busy judging the sailor about what he has and hasn’t studied, the sailor can rest easy on the ship because he knows the most important thing: how to swim. Brahm relates meditation to this useful kind of knowledge, equating the ability to stay in the present with “keeping your head above water.” It’s not flashy or particularly impressive, but it will protect you during the worst storms.
Building up your inner peace is what will keep you going in the “marathon” of your career, but it all has to begin with a clear purpose in mind. You need to know why you offer the services and products you offer before we can talk about how, and then mindset work becomes important to stay connected to that vision and stay motivated while you do the actual work of building it. If traditional sitting meditation is hard for you, walking is often just as good! There is no “right way” to do mindfulness, just what works for you.
Want more inspiration and practical tips like this? Follow me on social media and listen to my interviews with mission-driven leaders on the People, Stories, Success podcast.