What Buddhism Taught Me About Running a Business
- Michael Beckerman
I am a latecomer to Buddhism. My wife has been a Buddhist her entire life and she has had a great influence on teaching me all about the practices, teachings and philosophy of Buddhism. As someone who is always looking to discover new things that can enlighten my mind and outlook on life, the more I learned about Buddhism the more I liked about it. I ate it up and have been studying and reading as much as I can on the subject.
Buddhism has so many amazing qualities, such as believing in constant transformation and growth, unlocking your inside potential and doing good in as many ways as you possibly can. I realize that’s a pretty simplistic summary but I am not one to preach to others on what or whom they should believe in and worship etc…But one of the most profound and simple truths I discovered about Buddhism was one I have applied to my work life.
Looking back on my own professional journey, I remember starting my public relations firm in the late 1980’s. It was such an enormous effort to get it off the ground, grow it and survive all of the incredible obstacles running a small business. Hiring the right staff, serving clients, surviving downturns, horrible cash flow and on and on.
Trust me, I may have tried to project a cool exterior in front of my clients and staff, but inside I was a wreck. The hardest part for me was the constant stream of endless problems. Literally every day I had to face one crisis after another. For twenty-five years. Oyy.
By 2011, I had accomplished all I wanted to with my PR firm and knew it was time to make a change with my career path. So, I started a brand new journey to build and launch my digital real estate new website, The News Funnel.
And I face similar struggles that used to drive me crazy 25 years ago…problems with the site, problems with attracting and retaining users etc. I believe this time, however, I was better equipped to handle these daily stresses again running another small business. But was I really? I definitely had a lot more confidence in building this company but there were still so many unknowns for me personally in this new, tech sector. Oh boy, I can feel my stress level rising just thinking about it.
So where does the Buddhist philosophy come in and how has it helped me in my journey? Well, one of the most impactful aspects of Buddhism is its view of problems. And in fact, it actually changes your vernacular on this subject from problems to “challenges.” Buddhism teaches you that each “challenge” is actually a gift to help you grow as you gain new wisdom and insights. In our culture, I think many of us believe that the absence of problems is the perfect, ideal life but that’s unrealistic. Very often, we try to avoid problems in the hope they will evaporate. However, the reality is that when we ignore problems, they end up magnifying and getting worse. We eventually get so overwhelmed as these problems grow to be beyond manageable.
And that was the breakthrough for me personally. I started to see how each of these incredible obstacles that were continually placed in front of me were actually all part of my journey to get better as a business person; to stretch my capabilities and to push my own skill set beyond what I could have ever imagined. While it’s only natural to want to limit the severity of these challenges so you can survive and grow, changing my outlook on them has given me a whole new view of running a company and building my site. I wish I had these insights 25 years ago but perhaps I wasn’t ready to accept them.
When I think about this current journey I realize a lot about myself as well. That I actually enjoy this start-up process (despite how challenging it is even at my ripe old age of 50). And that it’s the spiritual and professional growth that I am actually attracted to not the pursuit of material things (I do like a few of those things though). Buddhism has given me a great deal of clarity and company on this ride and I thank my wife for always shining a light on what’s both new and actually exciting on this journey.