Spirituality and Entrepreneurship

The Powerful Connection of Spirituality and Entrepreneurship– by Deborah Levine

Let us be aware that creating your own business requires a connection between spirituality and entrepreneurship.  How does that work? The first element is the business side of the endeavor and its bottom line, otherwise known as ‘show me the money.’  The second motivation is self-fulfillment.  Some refer to this element of entrepreneurship as ‘personal satisfaction.’  But the core of the vague term ‘personal satisfaction’ is what is best described as a spiritual sense of purpose.  This spirituality is sometimes linked to one’s particular faith tradition, but is not necessarily so.  Rather, there is a commonality in this spiritual sense of something greater than ourselves that translates across the boundaries of specific religions.  Most importantly, there is tremendous power where this spirituality and business overlap.

Entrepreneurs understand and freely discuss the business elements of their work.  Conversations are common around budgets, financial reports, marketing, inventories and taxes.  Conversations about spirituality are much less frequent.  The absence can be ascribed to a lack of practice assessing the influence of spirituality on decision making and to a virtual vacuum of information on how spirituality impacts the bottom line.  The first step towards accessing the powerful intersection of spirituality and entrepreneurship is to define the nature of spirituality in a business context.  There are three major aspects of spirituality and how they shape entrepreneurial decisions:  Humanity, Character and Vision.

While entrepreneurs rank high in their use of spiritual tools, they are not alone.  These three elements are applicable across the business world where the entrepreneurial spirit is increasingly central.  Nowhere is that more true than with businesses making innovative efforts in a diverse and or international environment.  Here is where the Vision needs to be creative, Humanity should emphasize relationships and Character goes hand-in-hand with integrity.

How do we identify these three spiritual elements in ourselves and others?  Make a dictionary or each element and you’ll begin the journey of fleshing out their meaning.  Start with Vision.  We often think of Vision in terms of mission, planning, goals and objectives.  We are analytic and results oriented when we think of the future.  What does Vision look like when it involves the heart and soul, too.  What words beyond creative come to mind?  Here are some possibilities:  far-seeing, hopeful, faith, inspiring, motivating, forward-looking, knowledgeable, wise and innovative.   Vision becomes virtually limitless. When we think about Humanity, we often think grand thoughts about community building, world peace and the global village.  These are wonderful concepts but what is their relationship to the business world?

When we think of Humanity as relationships and cross-cultural communication, we bring these abstract ideas to the workplace.  Words such as equity, cultural sensitivity, business etiquette, tolerance and inclusion represent different aspect of a relationship-driven, Humanity-oriented business.  Businesses and entrepreneurs with diversity expertise, corporate responsibility projects, charitable activities, environmental initiatives and outreach to diverse cultures are signaling their investment in Humanity.  Whether that is investment is window dressing or an integral part of the corporate culture depends on the third element, Character.

The words that are listed under Character are almost limitless and include responsibility, dependability, accountability, reliability, trustworthiness, conviction, honesty, fairness and ethical. Many say that if a leader, a company an entrepreneur doesn’t have character, can’t be trusted, then their Vision and Humanity won’t be trusted.  A lack of Character trumps all other considerations.  In spiritual terms, the business and the entrepreneur are seen as having no spirituality and no soul.  The resulting perception is of an empty shell that can turn on its customers, workers and community without remorse.

Once you are seen as lacking Character, it is very difficult to retrieve it. And those who doubt that spirituality is a factor in the success of the entrepreneurial spirit only have to look at how Customer Relations becomes a battle if your marketing appears unauthentic.  Entrepreneurial businesses need to invest in their spirituality sooner rather than later.

Editor-in-Chief

Deborah Levine is Editor in-Chief of the American Diversity Report. She is an award-winning author of 14 books, received the Champion of Diversity Award from diversitybusiness.com, the Excellence Award from the Tennessee Economic Council on Women and is featured on C-Span/ BookTV. Her published articles span decades in journals & magazines: The American Journal of Community Psychology, Journal of Public Management & Social Policy, The Bermudian Magazine, The Harvard Divinity School Bulletin. A former blogger with The Huffington Post, she is now an opinion columnist with The Chattanooga Times Free Press.
Editor-in-Chief