Are you in business simply to make a profit? Or would you like your life work to have more far-reaching effects that that?
Hearing someone referred to as a ‘guru’, might bring to mind someone with a shaved head wearing orange robes. Or it may bring to mind someone in the business world who is a thought leader and life-changing visionary, such as the late, great Steve Jobs.
And at first glance it may seem these two definitions of ‘guru’ are worlds apart – I mean one’s a billionaire techno-geek and the other’s a wandering monk – but when you look more closely, the similarities are definitely there.
When Steve first started out, many thought he was crazy; his pedantry, single-mindedness and attention to detail lost him many friends. In the end however, with 100% devotion to his vision, he ultimately achieved great things and inspired millions of followers.
The same could be said of spiritual gurus such as Jesus or Buddha. At first, 100% dedication to their cause would result in the loss of friends and the gaining of enemies, but ultimately, they both inspired millions.
(Note: I’m not suggesting you start your own religion, but imagine having a business or idea that would thrive for more than a dozen generations after you have gone. Hmmmmm.)
Despite creating billion-dollar empires in software, hardware and animated movies, Steve was a humble man who lived simply, with very little furniture and few gadgets. He did not spend money like a bling-coated rapper, nor party like a rock star. He simply dedicated himself to his cause in business, and ascribed a very Buddhist philosophy to his work and his life.
Steve did not invent the computer, nor movies or software; he simply found an existing field and strived to make it better. Buddha and Jesus did not invent religion; they simply saw the old traditions as onerous and out of touch, and decided to make their own new practices and new spiritual habits, (habit which became “traditional” over time after much repetition).
In current times, Westerners generally accept the ‘one god: one love’ philosophy (whether they personally subscribe to it or not). But consider Jesus in the context of a land where Roman oppressors had many gods, as did the nearby polytheistic Greeks and Egyptians.
Jesus’s singular loving god was a new idea that was considered to be more simple, elegant or efficient than the old multiple deity model; this concept was then was copied by millions of other religious denominations around the world. One could look back on business and technology and see the invention of the iPhone as a similarly defining moment.
Apple entered a market which was 80% dominated by its competitors, then gave the masses ‘buttonless’ phones and ‘keyboardless’ portable touchscreen communication devices; simple ideas which have now been copied by thousands of other brands and manufacturers.
Future generations may look back upon the plug-in computer keyboard or the separated plastic Nokia phone buttons and think it was just as weird as having a plethora of gods to worship!
So how do you become a guru in your field? Well the first thing you need to be at peace with is the fact that you will make enemies and lose friends. But if you stay your course and overcome all obstacles you can change the world in which we live, for many generations.
The second thing you will need to do is apply what I call the ‘3-D’ traits of Dedication, Determination and Discipline to your cause.
More on them in future columns. But right now, if the life of a guru sounds appealing but you’re only in business to make a profit, it might be time to sell up and start a new one which fuels your fire.
I firmly believe the best reason to be in business is to live a life of personal passion, and to create a contagious idea which can change the world for your children’s grandchildren.
Does being a thought leader sound appealing to you?