Life begins after work. At least that was what it was like for me for decades — I clock out and life begins. I leave the sense of unease, helplessness, senselessness, lack of fulfillment, and the toxic environment behind me, and I start to ‘live’. For me, I go to a karaoke joint and sing my woes away.
And then I discovered M Scott Peck, who talked about a Community in Business. He showed example after example where colleagues & partners communicated and resolved issues. He talked about deep listening — of “emptying” and “bracketing”. And implicit in the title of his book, “Community Building in Business”, is a radical paradigm shift.
What if life begins at work? What if you are doing what you love, in an environment that has your back… and you are both seen and heard? If that’s possible, what would it look like? If that is possible, perhaps I wouldn’t have to escape into an alternative universe after ‘work’. If that is possible, then I can be energized from work, pay the bills and find deeper meaning from life after work… instead of merely ‘existing’.
That was the investigation of The Nusantara Story.
The premise being: If the source of our stresses stems from our work/business… would resolving this also resolve those stresses? After all, after the karaoke, I still need to clock in the next day. The other investigation was: Can spirituality, reality & business exist in the same space?
In hindsight, I believe it was my stubbornness to relinquish my original Vision of bringing artisanal products from our region to a global audience, with fair compensation for the Artisans, that kept me fixed on the journey towards True North. In that search, I rejected many business models that did not support this ending.
In the quest for the business model that worked… I had to search my memory for all my previous business experience, examine it, unlearn, relearn, and then learn again as new perspectives and evidence revealed itself. I needed to find a roadmap out of what I describe as the Kafkaesque World, balancing the needs of all who contributed to value creation.
Life begins at work. And for that to work, we need to do the work of walking the road less traveled. At every junction I was presented a choice, do I take the easiest exit or do I continue on this road even if I have yet to find the solution?
Allow me to share how this journey evolved for my partner Shoi and me. We started out working in separate ‘silos’, each in our own comfortable niche. She was the Creative and I was the Business Model Person. It worked well initially. But when we started Nusantara Collection, I quickly learned that we needed to combine our knowledge in order to create value. And that was not easy. I needed to see what she saw, and she needed to understand how the business model should work — we had to learn the other’s vocabulary. And so we had many sessions of “emptying” and “bracketing” as there were many dots to join.
An analogy. Shoi sees a different part of the “elephant” from me. So until I can see what she sees and she can see what I see, our perspectives are not aligned… and so we cannot make effective decisions as our perceived solutions do not align, and in some cases even contradict each other.
Joining the dots can be frightening — we’re each cathected to different pet ideas and when a dot joins, many things need to change. Even the way we work. Some tasks will require a joint/team effort to make it work where previously, there were fewer interconnections.
The process was iterative and it needed to be based on empirical evidence. What worked? What didn’t work? How can this be improved? How do we communicate with one another so we both feel seen and heard? Is the result of our joint effort fruitful and leading towards a determined milestone? If not, are we spinning our wheels? How do we tell which is which? And so we needed to train our minds to follow the evidence.
And we also have to reflect on past failures.
So occasionally, we hit past traumas and inner child issues… and then we need to create a safe space for healing. Gently does it. For this process can also be ‘violent’ mentally and sometimes feel like a storm. We do not give up our cathected ideas easily. Without giving up our delusions, we cannot see past the illusions. And in that process, we also learned about patience and the other Gifts of the Spirit.
From our own journey, I believe that’s what Scott was trying to articulate when he promulgated the idea of a Community in Business.
An analogy. It’s a bit like a band making music. There must be coordination, collaboration and ‘harmony’ before they can create music. And that takes practice. And that is also how value is created. And healing takes place with each step of our walk. For with each step, we also find meaning. And with each step, we become more present.