Since the 1970’s our economy has shifted away from focusing solely on the bottom line of profits to a triple bottom line model focused on people, planet, and profit. Now, a 4th P is emerging--presence or being present. Consider presence is the most critical asset for conscious entrepreneurs in the 21st Century. If we focus solely on the bottom of lines of people, planet, profit, it won’t be sustainable. Instead, we’ll end up with a bunch of burned out do-gooders.
Why this Matters
The global economy is facing two major global trends. One is the impact of technology and a globalized market creating a constantly adapting world. Studies show how 65% of preschoolers today will be in jobs that don’t yet exist. What you learn today may become obsolete tomorrow.
On top of that, we are dealing with the other trend of information overload in this digital age requiring professionals and entrepreneurs from all sectors to master sifting through hundreds of choices often causing decision overwhelm. Domo states how 90% of the world’s current data was generated in the last 2 years alone!
As productivity apps and software accelerate and streamline operations, this has only increased expectations for productivity output in the workplace. Instead of saving time, technology allows us to cram in more.
It becomes more difficult to simply do nothing, uninterrupted without being tempted to check in on your text, social media, email, slack channel, or whatsapp conversation thread. and feel happy about that.
Despite the challenge of these global trends, more people are realizing that less is more. That there is virtue in doing nothing and just being. As one colleague who put this idea into action says, “I just cancelled all my meetings next week. I need time to just think!!!” Doing nothing, free of thoughts is the new productivity hack. And new asset.
The Missing Piece
Let’s take a closer look at presence. What is presence? What constitutes presence? Former Stanford University neuroscience researcher and Mind-Body Coach, Uma Sanghvi, shares how attention is what constitutes presence. Where our attention goes, energy flows.
Presence has also defined as consciousness, inner self-awareness, or being present. In some circles, the 4th P is called purpose instead of presence. While there isn’t agreement among subject matter experts on what to call that 4th P--the essence remains the same in that the 4th P addresses the why of business. Think of presence as the backbone that sustains the other 3 P’s.
Presence is putting your values and well-being first before every business decision. As they say on the airplane, you must put your oxygen mask on first before putting it on children.
We have an abundance of burned out, do-gooders in the world--that often turns into resentment, anger, and other emotions that inhibit one being able to cultivate the 4th P. I often coach entrepreneurs who get burned out serving others while ignoring their own well-being and fulfillment. This has a direct impact on their ability to scale, attract clients, and generate revenue. Both from an energetic perspective as well as the energetic impression you give others.
I still remember one business coach I hired who always had red eyes from what I assumed to be a lack of sleep. Regardless of whether that was true, the impression I was left with was that my coach was exhausted, not getting enough sleep. It had me concerned whether the advice I was getting meant I might have to sacrifice my own well-being.
Culturally, we must stop the accepted norm that a startup must work twelve plus hour days, six to seven days a week or that “hustle mode” is inevitable as an entrepreneur. While being an entrepreneur requires hard work--that’s distinct from “hustle mode.” Hard work means facing your fears, constantly adapting to the unknown, or moving on from rejection and failure--but all of that does not require sacrificing your well-being from being in “hustle mode” in order to “make it.”
A Possible Future
As a conscious entrepreneur the last 15 years, I have go from six figures during my mid twenties, to food stamps and tons of debt during early family times, back to debt-free and six figures. I’ve experienced what it takes to scale through hard work, while working less than 40 hours a week so I can have time with my family and myself. I have found the energy of hustle mode rarely helps with client sales or well-being but instead, trains the brain to constantly active our nervous system into fight or flight mode. What if we can train the next generation of conscious entrepreneurs the distinction of hustle mode and hard work, and have more entrepreneurs practice what it looks like to integrate Presence into their business from the start?
Integrating our whole self as part of good business practice will take something given we live in a society that emphasizes a culture obsessed with thinking--often living more as human “doings” valuing our worth based on results, accomplishments, productivity, or net worth. By focusing on becoming a human “being” you can tap into a wellspring of inner wisdom communicated by your intuition, body, emotions, versus just your brain and thoughts while also being able to generate and manifest your business vision.
Each night before bed, our family acknowledges one other. I acknowledge my 7-year-old son, Eli “Good job practicing your soccer kicks,” ”Thank you for helping take out the recycling and not whining about it.” But I notice I often acknowledge him for what he does, not who he’s being.
When I notice that, I instead acknowledge him simply for being alive. “Thanks for being joyful,” “You are just so great being you!” “What a delight you are just being around you.”
Acknowledging, modeling, and training kids at a young age on who they are being will pave a path for integrating Presence into business, and creating a future of more fulfilled global citizens.
How do you measure presence? Another way of looking at presence is sometimes called enlightenment. NY Times Bestselling Author and Founder of Body and Brain Yoga Brain Education, Ilchi Lee explains how “in traditional eastern philosophy, enlightenment is the experience of no-self, in which the ego disappears...in the moment you do one one minute of exercise, though, you can experience a state of no-self--that is free of thoughts. Your mind focuses on your body and all other thoughts disappear.”
Here, he lays out a simple way to track and measure whether you have more presence in your life. Tracking 1 minute of exercise on the hour at least 10x/day. There are several studies on the impact that one minute of mindful exercise can have--physiologically, emotionally, and spiritually--more than chunking 30 minutes/day if you are sitting at a desk or car the rest of the day.
Where We are Headed
Since the 1970’s our economy has shifted away from focusing solely on bottom line of profits to a triple bottom line model focused on people, planet, and profit. As millenials and women are ever increasing decision makers when it comes to purchases and income earners--becoming a conscious (whether socially or spiritually) entrepreneur isn’t just a passing trend. It’s becoming the way business must be done.
We have an opportunity as conscious entrepreneurs, to thrive amid the noise, distraction, and information overload. To learn to be present by listening to our inner wisdom. That is the challenge we face today, that reaps large rewards and often unpredictable results.
Where your attention flows is where energy grows. May you give more attention to cultivating Presence and watch the magic unfold. Remember, for your conscious business to thrive, you must thrive, too.
Conscious Business Coach Anna S. Choi’s mission is to empower the next generation of conscious entrepreneurs to unleash their brilliance. As a broke art student with no money, connections, or experience, she started and eventually sold her socially responsible financial planning practice InsideOut Investing--tripling her net income and grossing six figures by age 25. A decade later, she trains conscious entrepreneurs to attract more clients and scale their impact through an 8 week program The Client Accelerator for Conscious Entrepreneurs. Anna's proudest accomplishment is water birthing her son, Eli who is now 7 years old. She married her best friend Leo celebrating 15 years together and lives in Poulsbo, WA. Learn more at www.annasunchoi.com.
Anna Sun Choi