Writer: Andy Kirchner, Mindful Mindset Coach at The Recycled Pirate, Ecosystem Developer & Entrepreneurial Facilitator at Innovation ç
Let’s start with a truth bomb. Ever notice that when you really want to land that one client, that one assignment, you can’t seem to make the connection and seal the deal. There is nothing wrong with you, or with your intentions for that matter, but maybe your approach in business could use a touch of mindfulness.
Mindfulness in business still seems out of place to many. We are in business to provide a service with an end result to make money. We want to grow our business, period. ‘Go big or go home’ the slogan says, as standing still is a slow death to any business. If you ever listened to John Maxwell or Simon Sinek, two vastly different generation motivational speakers, it’s their profession to guide others how to become great leaders who inspire. And what they have in common is that they are mindful about their business. They are thought provokers and leadership experts who teach focused awareness and effective skills for success. How many of those do you know in business? Or better yet, how many do you know in Curaçao?
So, what do I know about business? Basically, as much as anyone. I didn’t set out to become a businessman, as an MBA wasn’t my goal early in life. However, I grew up above an apothecary shop with a stepfather who really loved his business and disliked the competition. Plus, I had another father figure role model that knew how to sell anything anywhere to anyone. We would stand on street corners in Amsterdam selling AJAX t-shirts for Champions League football matches. Other days, we would offer catering at weddings or birthday events. Ok, maybe it was not exactly a business, more hustling but no matter what you call it, it provided me with different real-life experiences.
As unpredictable life can be, I started into business when I had no other choice. Freshly out of a wheelchair after a spinal cord injury that should’ve left me paralyzed, I was living off welfare with not much of a future perspective other than that I didn’t want to have the perspective I was having at that moment. I started looking for ways to earn a living and become independent again but just any job wasn’t going to be it. I had hustled all my life. As I left school earlier than I should’ve, there was no other option than to look at all the life lessons learned at age 35.
I discovered that I am creative, understand people, empathize with their emotions, and as a result my business story began to take shape. During my rehabilitation to learn to walk again, I was determined to become a valuable member of society and workforce. I realized that the limitations imposed on me by my upbringing were barriers holding me down. I sensed how we are all programmed by society to become something whether a professional, idea or gimmick, and there is not enough emphasis on developing as a human that has a profession following one’s own ideology. Mental health problems and struggles in life have risen enormously in recent times and developing strategic tools for mental health issue awareness benefits everyone. Unrecognized and unaddressed mental health issues in the workplace can have negative effects not only on employees’ overall health but on the overall business performance as well. As I recycled myself, I saw the need to help ‘reprogram’ other humans and uplift their emotional well-being to become a better version of themselves.
It became my mission explaining that we all deserve an equal opportunity to succeed. Equal meaning that your drive and determination will settle the score. I’m sure that if you let any CEO look at my business, there will be much to improve on. When I meet with CEOs to listen to their challenges and questions on why their message doesn’t come across on the work floor, I help bring to light their missing link. Questions such as how can you improve team performance and motivate employees to get better results? Or why doesn’t the sales team perform as they should? And to help them clarify the answers, it is important to understand that life has changed and the values with it. The numbers will always remain significant as they detail the results, but numbers only do not motivate people. The workforce requires more fulfillment and satisfaction in their jobs. There needs to be a personal gain to keep people inspired and engaged.
Choosing a mindful approach into business has taken me in an unexpected direction. Looking at sales numbers and giving training in mindfulness to increase productivity previously seemed out of place in the office. Yet the teams that have partaken in mindfulness training sessions have grown closer to each other. Their client approval ratings have gone up, and after a few months sales improved as well. Why the change, you ask? Because the team members learned to engage with each other and their clients in a more meaningful way. The solidarity of the team as a group boosted the confidence of team members individually, thus benefiting the whole team and overall performance. Team meetings weren’t just about hitting targets anymore, but the collective team accomplishments.
A company where employees love to come to work and clients feel appreciated is the best marketing and public relations for a business. The world and its demands are changing. People are more conscious of their choices. Business leaders must look beyond the numbers on the statements and intentionally find sustainability within society. And this relates to all sectors or industries of business. Being mindful could be an important factor that could make businesses successful.
It became clear to me that my calling to help guide others bring mindfulness to their business can create a more mindful business ecology, especially in Curaçao where the business industry can be limited. The advantages of a diverse community that is perfectly located as an international hub provides the foundation for growth opportunities. As I coach people from different continents in different languages with very different professional backgrounds, it becomes more apparent how similar and unified people are once they have purpose and meaning in life and business. As I build a new brand with ethically chosen merchandise used to carry a mindful message, I see a new future blooming for Curaçao. The world needs a small rock full of hope that is mindful about its business.