Either first or second-hand, we know of the power of authentic small-group discussion. Yet how often do we give ourselves the space and time to allow for this in our hectic schedules. In our relentless striving to do more we rush passed the treasure in our midst. And so it was with a great sigh of relief that I spent a lovely morning with employees of Andrew Thornton’s Budgens, through his Heart in Business programme, honouring the simple sacredness of authentic small-group discussion in a time-honoured practice of Way of Council.
The ancient indigenous Way of Council allows for groups to open up to the wisdom of the heart through a communal atmosphere of sharing, non-judgement and acceptance. In Council, people sit in a circle and commit to being fully present; really listening to each other from the heart, free from distractions, judgements, opinion forming or preparation of response. And as a result of this humane discussion, empathy, honesty, commitment and trust form – qualities we all-too-seldom find in business these days, sadly.
By opening up to ourselves and others with loving kindness and attention, we allow the shadows within us all that isolate, alienate and degrade our sociality – such as preconceived judgements, projections and anxieties – to see the light of day.
At Friends House one bright, frosty winter’s morning, I witnessed a dozen staff from Thornton’s Budgens transcend diverse cultural differences to find the commonality within humanity. This gives me hope for an increasingly challenging future ahead for us all.
Much business behaviour today, as well as our prevalent way of living, is corrupted by our general distracted and dis-eased attention. We find ourselves losing touch with our innate capacity to rest in our own natural awareness, to be sensitive to the subtle perturbations of the heart, and so to empathise and meaningfully relate.
The simple, yet profound activity of people coming together in a conscious and authentic way allows for a healing in the fractured busi-ness of today’s hedonic mania. It is in these sacred openings that we find our global yet local humanity; our differing tunes within the universal Dance of Life.
Simple activities of giving the other person our undivided attention as we listen deeply to them; listening without interruption; speaking without fear of interruption or judgement. How often do we practice these humane behaviours in today’s world?
And so what Andrew Thornton and Jim (the Store Manager) did that bright, frosty winter’s morning was to allow the light of hope to shine and in-so-doing, gaining a more committed, loyal, responsive team of employees. My wish is that Thornton’s Heart In-Business programme reaches many more organisations, as for sure they will benefit in profound ways.
Giles Hutchins is a speaker, adviser and author on the new business paradigm inspired by and in harmony with Nature. He blogs at www.thenatureofbusiness.org