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How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.
People often ask me why I decided to share my eBook From Apps To Zen: 26+ Ideas for Building a Business with Balance for free. My answer is always the same:
Through sharing something, sometimes the universe gives back in other ways.
This is the power of Karma Yoga or yoga in action.
The word ‘karma’ is derived from the Sanskrit kri, meaning ‘to do’. However, in the yogic context karma means not only action, but also the result of an action. Karma Yoga in its purest sense is selfless service – serving humanity without attachment or egotism. If sharing and good actions are done only as a way of getting some benefit or payment, then that is not true karma. What we are striving towards as Karma Yogis is selfless action and sharing – not an easy path, I’ll admit.
But I think there is a valuable lesson for business here. Too much of the time, and I include myself in this analysis, we only give if we can get in return. I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine. With busy work and lives, and worries about paying the bills, the act of giving is understandably low on our list of priorities.
I recently attended a Yoga in Action workshop run by Leila and Matthew from the Off the Mat and Into the World community. Off the Mat uses the power of yoga to inspire conscious, sustainable activism and to ignite grass roots social change. It was an emotional and inspiring day and really got me thinking about what I can do on a daily basis to ‘selflessly serve’.
I saw Seane Corn from Off The Mat being interviewed at the Wisdom 2.0 conference last February and she said something that resonated with me: in all her work and giving – her ‘selfless service’ – she always gets back way more in return than she can ever give, in terms of learning about herself.
Web entrepreneur Marie Forleo wrote a moving article on her blog in this same vein. The Single Most Powerful Action you Can Take to Grow Your Business was not about writing killer content, joint ventures or increasing your traffic. It was about giving back and making a difference. Inspired by her friend Elizabeth Gore, and her fundraising efforts for a UN Foundation initiative called GirlUp, Marie decided to donate 5% of the net profits of her Rich, Happy and Hot Virtual Mastery Program to GirlUp.
This is something that I aspire to in my business and have built giving and service into my core business model with 10% of revenue from all programmes going to organisations that help women and girls in the developing world, as well as other ways of ‘giving back’.
You don’t need to give away your hard earned profits to engage in selfless service. We can all do something in our business to help others. Here are some ideas to get your started:
1. Give a free talk and share your expertise.
2. Pick a project to work on pro-bono each year.
3. Make an amazing product and give it away for free like Mark and his fantastic eBooks for creative people.
4. Take the time everyday to help someone else with their business – respond to that email, make a referral or lend your skills, preferably without a kick-back.
5. Set aside a percentage of your profits for a cause that is close to your heart or use the power of micro-lending to support an entrepreneur in a developing country.
Do something. Anything. But not in expectation of a return.
Then, you will see the true power of Karma Yoga.
Over to you
What ways can you start to give back in your business?
What are you passionate about s e.g. women’s rights, child poverty, helping ex-offenders into work and how can you align this with your business?
Who in your network can you support or mentor, or just lend a helping hand to?
About the author: Sinead Mac Manus is the founder of 8fold, a little company with a big dream – to change the way people work. A yoga fanatic, she tries to bring a Zen-like quality to her daily life but normally fails due to drinking too many double espressos. You can purchase her new book The Business Yogi: How to be Happy at Work in paperback, Kindle or PDF or follow her on Twitter.