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Your Great Spirit

So, life is amazing. You ever noticed how the right books and messages seem to fall into place?… 

I got my hands on Ray Dalio’s latest book called “Principles.” If you haven’t heard of Ray, he’s become an icon in the investment and trading communities. In terms of net worth, he’s up there with the Warren Buffets, Richard Branson’s, and other ultra billionaires. He’s in rare air. Thanks in part to Tony Robbin’s coaxing, and his own readiness, he’s stepped forward into a teaching phase of his life. 

Ray’s book got me thinking about the role of business in both our personal and collective evolution.

Like many before him, especially the great stoics like Seneca and Marcus Aurelius, Ray praises common wisdom. Yeah, he’s a big proponent of AI, and automating systems, but he reminds readers it all needs to be rooted in common wisdom.  He revisits the importance of the old stand-bys too, like a good work ethic, and discipline, staying open to struggle. He talks of creating systems and reliable circles of guidance to track and guide progress.  And he’s also a believer in playing a part in a evolving whole.  He’s really used his career and business success as a way to better understand the relationship between common wisdom and big system thinking.

But beyond all that Ray’s book reminded me of the importance of acknowledging SPIRIT in culture. Ray’s book does a great job at helping people understand the kind of wisdom that needs to be applied to guide growth of any kind, from small to large. But I think it also does something else, perhaps something that wasn’t intended. His book indirectly supports the necessity of spirit in healthy business cultures.

It seems one of the things that’s made Ray such an enigma in corporate culture, was his ability to create cultures that work. Despite the radical profitability of his company Bridgewater Associates over the long term, there also seemed to be freedom built into his systems. This stood out. People wondered, how do you create such profitability, and still nurture the growth and freedom of your employees?  As some of you know, I’ve spent time working in big company cultures. While many are great at creating the appearance of spirit, and establishing sound principles, ethics, and even compassion and care for the whole, cracking the nut called genuine spirit ain’t easy. Happiness doesn’t come cheap. The beating heart of true innovation often goes missing. 

This got me thinking about the notion of spirit in our business culture. Spirit doesn’t really carry much weight anymore. It’s lost ground to new world ideas like Soul, Spirituality, and cognition. Native cultures are still connected and carrying on traditions rooted in spirit, but collectively we’ve relegated spirit to high school pep rallies and mandatory team building at challenge courses. What’s spirit? In native traditions, Spirit is an actual living thing, something that’s both part of nature and entirely free on its own. It’s conscious.

What seems to get lost in big organizations is that spirit isn’t actually something that gets reproduced. Or can be created by replicating natural systems, it’s actually tapped into. It’s there already, but needs the room to spread it’s wings. It’s not some extra energy source that gets created when we you put the right mechanisms in place. It’s freed. Well, this can be argued of course, but I’d ask you to be open to hearing me out.  Imagine spirit as something we own, and have our share of, and nature owns the master share. Spirit, generally, comes alive in spaces where genuine connection can be made. That happens most when we feel free to express ourselves through choices -that make sense for ourselves. Nature is a great illustration of a GREAT SPIRIT unleashed, as it’s this grand system of tiny things all perfectly connected and free to do whatever the hell it wants. There’s rules, and systems, but these rules serve this greater freedom. And all things within it get the same opportunity to play. So Ray’s book helped spark this larger question; how can we get better as a society at creating systems that best reflect freedom? Nature, in this sense, is both the perfect guide and master. If we learn to do a better job of listening to nature, both within ourselves and outside in nature, we better our chance at connecting to the genuine spirit of nature called freedom. Like Ray’s book suggests, we are granted the blueprint. We’re freed up to co-create, as that’s what freedom really is. It’s a dance where new expressions meet old processes and new expressions of freedoms are made. So maybe our job as leaders in our communities is to help collaborate on creating systems that are better suited to help others reconnect to the freedom they carry. Practically this means giving people choices, and the space to be heard and express themselves. Some of you may be wondering if you can have all that and still maintain the integrity that’s needed to achieve a common goal.  

A great example exists outside your door. This type of freedom is alive and well. Just take a walk outside in nature! Have a good look around. That freedom you see, remember it’s within you too. 

 

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