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22 Jul 2016

Spiritual Take on a Businessman’s Pointers for Building a Biz

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Life Wisdom from David Shapiro’s Address to Young Drivers Association

Computer BusinessLast night, I spoke on “Life Lessons for Creating Success” at Miracle Drive’s Young Drivers gathering. After I shared some thoughts, David Shapiro, Deputy Chairman of Sasfin Securities, gave over ten principles on “The Art of Building Customer Relations.” Actually there were more than ten ‘cos his introduction was full of rich ideas too.

I took notes and decided to share his guidance with a bit of a spiritual twist. In Part 1 I’ll present my take on David’s intro. In Part 2 (to follow), we’ll go through his 10-point list. Here then are David’s ideas (in black and in shorthand) with their mystical underpinnings as I see them (in KC purple plum and a couple of ramblings):

If I don’t take control of myself, no-one will.

There no shining night on a white horse that will take care of you. At one point when I went through a career change, I visited some top businessmen in South Africa. They all cared and wished me the best. But they weren’t going to be the one to fix my situation. I had to do that for myself.

Spot on. “Ethics of the Fathers” quotes Hillel the Sage as saying, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?” Ultimately, no matter how much someone loves or respects you, you are the only one who can move your life forward. Others’ inability to make things happen for you isn’t a result of a lack on their part or yours. It’s just a product of the nature of Reality: At the very end of the day, there’s you and your Creator. For some that may seem scary. In truth, self-ownership facilitates freedom and power – the very opposite of the helplessness which entitlement generates.

Young.Drivers.LectureIn addition, when you take responsibility for your life, remarkable things happen. Our relationships are collapsing under the weight of expectation. Counter-intuitively once you decide to take control of yourself and your life, others become much more willing to become involved in your dreams and help manifest them.

Which brings me to social responsibility. There’s a corollary to the statement of Hillel the Sage. He goes on to say, “If I am only for myself, what am I?” Albeit the buck stops at you, you’re not absolved from reaching out to and helping others. The assistance you offer may be financial, giving advice, making a referral, offering encouragement, praying on behalf of someone or rolling up your sleeves and helping out with your physical presence. You’re not going to “make it happen” for that person but the gift of someone else’s caring can help us go a long way.

I remember at one point in my life feeling, to quote Anne of Green Gables, “In the depths of despair.” I couldn’t even reach out to those who love me. One friend kept calling. She didn’t care that I wasn’t picking up. Daily messages, texts, emojis kept coming in. Eventually I just had to pick up her call. We spoke. She was gentle. She told me I had to at least drink something.

“Go have some milk and honey. I’ll stay on the phone with you while you go downstairs,” she said.

I no longer drink it but I have the fondest memories of my maternal grandfather stirring honey into milk on the stove and watching over my sisters and me as we drank his offering. And so I listened to my friend. She virtually walked me to the kitchen and chatted with me as I prepared and drank the milk. To this day, I think of that cup as The Milk of Loving Kindness. More than the physical nourishment, the gift of her care got me on my feet.

At another point, after I’d created a richly functional website through the skilled professionalism of Miriam Schwab’s Illuminea, Naomi Elbinger and Arielle Kwestel, I realized that as my business grew, I needed some important adjustments. I’d invested so much, was making a difference to others yet stood to lose what I’d built if I didn’t get it fixed. But I was maxed out. At a meeting, a friend noticed my dejection and began prodding for the problem.

“So how much do you think it’ll cost to fix?” she asked.

“Five grand,” I mouthed.

“Done!” she said. “You give so much to the world. We need your teachings.”

I’d never asked for a loan or a gift. Yet my friend made me feel she was doing me the favor. We turned to her web development contact Yossi Melamed of RestartIt and he and his team not only made the changes I was hoping for but gave me suggestions that took my site beyond my expectations.

If I hadn’t taken control of my own life (“If I’m not for myself, who will be for me?”), I wouldn’t have built up the knowledge, resources, following or website I had at the time she gave me the gift that kept me going. And if not for my friend’s gift (Her headspace of “If I am only for myself, what am I?”) I would not have been able to offer the level of engagement and depth I am now able to.

Messi doesn’t play the same game as Renaldo.

Get there in your own way. You are you. Don’t try to be anyone else.

In The Method, we have about thirty Isms. They’re short snappy sayings that pack a punch of insight about life. One of them is, “Don’t be new. Be you!” By this I mean that you don’t have to magically manifest a meaningful self and life from the hyle of the universe. You are intrinsically valuable, mysteriously unique and have a unique purpose that comes along with that.

I also mean that you can’t be anything other than yourself. At the end of the book of Genesis, Jacob blesses the Twelve Tribes. At the end of the book of Deuteronomy, Moses blesses them again. Interestingly, on both occasions, the blessings are given individually rather than to the nation as a whole. The reason for this is that if Reuven would try to be Shimon and Shimona to be Levi, or Levi attempt to live Yehuda’s path, they’d all fail. You can’t do someone else’s life. Just not possible. So take some time to discover yourself and commit to putting your unique soulprint into the world.

There’s always a path out.

Whatever problems you find yourself facing, know that there’s a way out.

The nature of a challenge is that we don’t see the solution while we’re in it. Sometimes, we feel so troubled we imagine there is no solution to be found. That’s simply not true.

At an existential and philosophical level, the Talmud teaches, “G-d does not present his creatures with unreasonable demands.” We are not asked more than we are capable of handling – however untrue that may feel to us experientially.

At a more personal level, it also teaches, “The righteous one falls seven times and stands up.” Before I address this teaching directly, I’d like to suggest that most of what’s wrong with our lives is that we won’t accept what’s wrong with them. By which I mean to say that of course there are problems, challenges and growth opportunities. But by far the biggest problem is that we refuse to accept the shadows with the light. Accepting life on its own terms gives us access to more inner peace.

Then, once we acknowledge the inevitability of challenge, we become less averse to failure. And thereby we become more potent agents to effect change! Surrendering to the terms of life doesn’t mean we won’t change them. Quite the opposite. It is our insistence on perfection that keeps us stuck and sick. Leave your ego at the door and focus on what you are needed for. With that headspace, the solution will find its way into your mind and heart.

Let me know your thoughts on these ideas. Join the discussion. And look out for Part 2: The Kabbalah of Building Customer Relations.

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