You are here

The Conscious CEO

By Amrit Singh 

As the world is waking up spiritually, it is becoming more and more common to hear the topic of spirituality in business openly discussed in large corporations. Companies offer their employees yoga classes and other outlets for the personal exploration or expression of spirituality in business.

The growing acceptance of spirit in business can also be seen in the increasing number of mainstream business books that discuss it, as well as in the number of well-attended international seminars and conferences on spirituality and business. Businesses are discovering, not surprisingly, that employees who find some elements of spiritual fulfillment at work are more productive. The emergence of spirituality has proven to be good business.

I’d like to explore this frontier, asking what it looks like to work and be successful (and profitable) in a conscious way—fully aware and fully awake to our totality as spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical beings.

We can look at one result of not focusing on consciousness in business—the scandals popping up seemingly around every corner. Once highly respected business leaders are suddenly being shown to have been at best negligent, or at worst criminal. Without the awareness of consciousness, they play out their subconscious agendas, living in a world of fantasy. In a word, they aren’t aware. They let their egos pull the veils of maya[1] across their eyes. Being able to see reality clearly, to see things as they really are, is the hallmark of spirituality—of consciousness.

So how do we go to an office, work hard, focus on making profit and being successful, and still maintain our connection to our higher self? We are very automatic humans. Our 5 senses function constantly, with or without our knowledge. The question is how we concentrate, how we deal with the inputs those senses are giving us, how we direct our minds to behave towards them. In addition, we have our 6th sense, our intuition—that part of us that makes our hair stand on end just before the fear itself comes. A conscious CEO uses this sensory system to his or her advantage: not blocking out the feelings or the emotions, but consciously processing them.

What does it mean to consciously process your sensory system? It means to make yourself aware of your own mental process. When you are about to make a decision or take an action, you ask yourself, what is my sense about that decision or that action? Then you proceed to question yourself to understand the reality of it. For example, you could start by asking yourself, “Why am I feeling so …?” Then probe further with the following types of questions:

            Is it from my consciousness?

            Is it from my character?

            Is it from my personality?

            Is it from my internal shortcomings?

            Is it from my fears?

            Am I pretending to be happy, but I’m really not?

The answers to these questions will tell you if taking that action or decision will help you or hurt you. You will know if you are about to act on an impulse, something that will betray your values and dignity. The honest answers you give yourself to questions like these will also tell you if you are acting in the best interest of the company, or in the best interest of your ego. A conscious CEO must leave his or her personal ego at the door. A business has an identity of its own. And that identity is what must be served—not our hidden agendas, not our own wants and desires. Every decision must be made in the best interest of the company. This is much harder than it sounds!

So it is all about consciousness, with awareness. Even though you have a good intent, without awareness it might not give the results you’re looking for. Therefore you have to train yourself to consciously filter your own mind. Question yourself—question your conduct, your behavior, your thinking, your acting, your reaching out, your dealing with people. When we don’t question ourselves, when we don’t consciously process the sensory system, we will be misled. We will mislead ourselves and therefore others. We will start following the shadows that the ego throws onto the walls of our minds instead of accurately seeing the shape of what is in front of us.

The fundamental steps that every conscious CEO must follow is a personal comparative study. Is it your grace, dignity, and inner royalty that are emerging, or is it your fears, insecurities, and personal agendas? When we forget to act according to our higher consciousness, that is when we let ourselves be ruled by our emotions. Then, emotions, feelings, and fears are the trio that guides us, rather than character, consciousness, and our principles. It is by consciously processing things through our sensory system that we can avoid these pitfalls. Raw emotion as a guide will lead us astray. But emotion processed consciously through the sensory system will help us, even in business.

It is important to note that the goal of the conscious CEO is NOT to eliminate all emotions, or all fears, or all desires. Rather, the goal of the spiritual being fully engaged in the world is to use the tool of consciousness to control your life and your character. The goal is not to avoid all disturbances—it is to deal gracefully with the thousands of disturbances that we encounter. We don’t have the luxury of retreating to a mountaintop to find our inner peace in the midst of solitude and isolation. We need to find that inner sanctuary, maintain our sense of connectivity to the Universe—and at the same time deal with deadlines, challenging co-workers, and the information overload from emails, text messages, smart phones, and laptops. As if just finding that peace wasn’t hard enough, we have to do it with all these distractions! And that is why the sensory system is such an important part of the conscious CEO’s toolkit.

What can you do to develop the ability in your work to step back, ask yourself the types of questions discussed here, and be able to give yourself honest answers? Here is a quick meditation you can practice. The next time you have a big decision in front of you, try this for just three minutes sitting at your desk.

According to yogic tradition, this meditation strengthens your nervous system so nothing bothers you, it expands your intuitive sense, and it makes the mind clear and decisive. It helps you have the strength to act on your ideals, and to consciously direct yourself.

Wahe Guru Kriya for Nervous Balance

This meditation can be found in Sadhana Guidelines.

Amrit Singh Khalsa took his first Kundalini Yoga class in college for gym credit, and has been hooked ever since. After graduating with a PhD in Aeronautical Engineering, I spent more than 11 years working as a business executive and was very lucky to have had the opportunity to meet several times a week for almost 4 years with Yogi Bhajan reviewing business items. I love applying consciousness to doing business.



[1] Maya is the illusion we mistake for reality.