June 14, 2012

elephant does LOHAS: Spirituality in Business.

Background from www.lohas.com/forum (if you’re familiar with LOHAS, skip ahead):

LOHAS, an acronym for “Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability,” describes a marketplace focused on health, the environment, social justice, personal development and sustainable living. One in four Americans is part of this group—nearly 41 million people and growing.

Since its inception in 1996, LOHAS has been the catalyst for the adoption of sustainable living and environment-friendly practices for the globally conscious business community. The LOHAS Forum is the leading annual gathering of thought and opinion leaders in the LOHAS marketplace. The LOHAS Forum features highly influential speakers and panelists who address and explore some of today’s most prominent issues and business challenges, in the world of health and wellness. Other events include musical performances, workshops and networking receptions.

Leading from a Deeper Place

Jonathan Ellerby of Tao Inspired Living kicks us off today at the LOHAS Forum in Boulder, Colorado with a discussion on spirituality in business.

According to Ellerby, business models of the past often prevent spirituality from growing in a company.

If spirituality is about what is most important to us, and our well-being is based on living our lives in a way that follows these values, then we have to try to incorporate spirituality into our identities as leaders.

How do we do this?

The answer is all about the leader’s own self-awareness (and if you think this isn’t about you because you’re not a leader, think again. Everyone is a leader in some form or another, even if it’s just being the leader of your own life). As would seem traditional in many current Buddhist teachings, we have to start with ourselves before we can move on to others. The same is true for mindful leadership.

According to Ellerby, it starts with knowing what style of leadership you are in, what internal place you are operating from, and lastly, having an understanding of what you and others have to offer.

So, what’s your leadership style?

The Four Phases:

1. Conventional

>>Following old models because they’ve been successful in the past.

2. Authoritative.

>>Decision making takes on an emotional quality.

>>Decisions become fact based on “leader” status, i.e., “My way or the highway.”

3. Cooperative.

>>There’s acknowledgment that there might be other way.

>>Holds a more humanistic and inclusive quality.

4. Altruistic.

>>Exists above and beyond the other phases.

>>Decisions are made because we know they are good for the world.

>>We operate based on vision and intuition.

While the above represents leadership styles, from within those styles, we operate from internal states.

In other words, what is our unique history that makes us lead the way we do?

States of Leadership

A. Source

>>Where do we come from originally?

B. Essence

>> Characteristics we were born with.

>> Our natural talents. (According to Ellerby, when people embrace these things, their true gifts come forth.)

C. Wounding

>> Conditioning takes place. This is a natural part of our development but can lead to Point D.

D. Social self

>>The problem comes when we internalize Point C and make it into our identity. Then, we lose track of our strengths.

These states and levels aren’t places to judge ourselves, but to recognize where we are. Because we circulate through all of these, staying aware of where we are allows us to be healthier leaders.

Every individual has a set of gifts.

As Ellerby tells us: We may be mice, tall grass, eagles or ancient stars.

Each one of these has its benefits and drawbacks. For example:

>>The mouse can see everything up close, but can get too caught up in details.

>>The tall grass is adaptable; it blows in the wind, but it is also at the mercy of its environment.

>>The eagle flies high above the ground and therefore, can see everything. However, sometimes it gets stuck making decisions because it sees so much.

>>The ancient star maintains a perspective over time and through space, always asking and looking for the deeper meaning. However, the drawback that it’s so far away from the ground that it loses track of reality.

Spiritual leadership is about knowing what your own gifts are. Maybe it’s about going outside your comfort zone and learning to incorporate all these viewpoints. It’s also about knowing what other people’s gifts are so that you can assign the appropriate tasks to each person.

Lastly, Ellerby tells us that the more time we can spend in Phase 4, altruism, the healthier we will be. We will make the greatest impact on the world when we operate from a place of vision and intuition, of what is important to our essence (Phase 2), basing our decisions on what is good for the world as a whole.


Joining us at LOHAS this week in Boulder? Don’t miss The Late Night Lounge, a seven year custom, this Wednesday night. Come relax after dinner. Enjoy some music, bring your instrument of choice and join us. Network in a relaxed comfortable place with a couple hundred of your soon to be close friends.


For more information on LOHAS, visit here.


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