The Myth of Spiritual Entrepreneurship
Recently I stumbled upon the term “spiritual entrepreneur”. At first I thought, okay, I think I get it. It’s someone who is trying to make a living with a spiritually-based business. Then I thought, wait a minute, what really is a spiritual entrepreneur?
From Merriam-Webster’s dictionary:
Spiritual: of or relating to a person’s spirit.
Entrepreneur: a person who starts a business and is willing to risk loss in order to make money.
Having gone through the substantial process of obtaining three U.S. patents and subsequently trying to license them, as well as writing books in hopes of selling them, I have some experience in taking a time and financial risk for a future payoff. I’ve also changed careers a number of times, taking risks to follow what I’ve felt drawn to do while trying to make a decent living. Through it all, my passionate interest in studying and practicing spirituality and healing never waned. So one could say I’m spiritual and that I've had entrepreneurial experience. But spiritual entrepreneurship? The term comes close to being an oxymoron to me.
As I went through the process of changing my career from cubicle-dwelling, spreadsheet-driving analyst to spiritual writer, publisher, teacher, and healer, I found myself struggling with this idea of being a “spiritual entrepreneur”. One thing that brought some inner turmoil while on this path of change was the conflict between the old desire to have a solid, steady paycheck and the understanding that a newly formed, spiritually-based business would most likely not have anything remotely resembling a consistent paycheck, at least in the beginning. This is a good example of the entrepreneurial concept of taking an up-front risk for a future reward, although the reward for me was less financial and more personal.
So how does spirituality fit into the three-dimensional world's concept of entrepreneurship?
Spirituality is the experience of something greater than ourselves, the experience of the divine within, or as Merriam-Webster states, “of or relating to a person’s spirit.” It is not something external to us in the physical world, although one can find spirituality with the help of the physical. Many people see yoga, for example, as spiritual. If it brings them to a place of peace and love with themselves and a sense of connection to others, then I believe it is. But for some, so is sitting on their deck in the morning with a cup of coffee watching a sunrise, so is going for a hike in the woods, so is helping someone with no expectation of reward, so is simply looking at their child with love.
Anything can lead to an experience of spirituality. In fact everything can, if seen from a higher context.
When it comes to business, a “spiritual” business is just like any other. It exists in the physical world with one goal being to make money so it can continue to exist. And, just like any entrepreneur, a “spiritual” entrepreneur prioritizes organizing, managing, and taking risks for their business in order to make money. The emphasis, intent, and attention are in the physical world and not on looking within or fostering a genuine, open, heart-centered connection with others, which goes beyond the physical. When we focus on what is outside of us in the three-dimensional world, can we be spiritual or grow spiritually? Certainly, we can learn from the physical world as its forms, relationships, and situations reflect our personality and the issues we must overcome to be in oneness with others, but where is our intent? Can we use the three-dimensional world as a tool to further our spiritual intent rather than the physical world being the primary focus and spirituality being secondary?
When we prioritize our spirituality and sincerely express it, those interested in what we have to offer will be drawn to us and will provide what they can in an energetic exchange, often in the form of money. That then can become a business. It sounds passive, and it is when looking at it through a traditional business lens, but by focusing on spirituality, we set our intent on what is more important to us: inner growth over outward profits. The underlying premises of the two terms are so vastly different that they are, quite literally, in different worlds.
Through my career transition, I’ve had little desire to partake in the standard entrepreneurial and business practices that could enhance my earning power. Yet I take comfort in the fact that I am living, being, and experiencing my spirituality on a day-to-day basis as best I can, trusting that it is through the natural expression of who I am and what I’ve learned that brings others to a greater awareness of their own spiritual potential, a recognition of the strength and power that lies within.
So if you think you are a spiritual entrepreneur, you might want to clarify your intent. Are you crafting a “spiritual” business around something external to you? Is your spirituality being compromised through your entrepreneurship?
Spirituality is a state of being, and when we truly express our spirituality, which comes from within, entrepreneurial and business activities in the world around us become subordinate to that intent, and life simply flows.