By Helene Szabados and Heidi Majano
“Invent a business that smiles on the world. …Earn enough for your need but not for your greed, leaving a heritage so that when you die, you will be missed.”
-Sami Sunchild How to be an Entrepreneur, 2003
Last Thursday we hosted an engaging conversation, with the topic, “What does it mean to be a young entrepreneur and a peace builder in the new millennium?” Our table was filled with active peace builders and young entrepreneurs with special guests from Commonweal and Holistic Underground.
We started this conversation with a prose from Sami’s collection called, How to be an Entrepreneur. Influenced by Sami’s words, Oren, Chief Strategies Officer at Commonweal, started the conversation by sharing “What keeps you solid and grounded? What anchors you and holds you down through the winds of life?” Oren spoke of core values and keeping them in the forefront when exploring entrepreneurship.
Mazin, a member of Holistic Underground, responded “This topic brings up a big question for me, ‘how can I ensure that what I am working on is game changing and not game playing?’ What I find most important is being grounded in a community. Many people today are craving to be part of a community and my role is to hold this space for others to have their own peaceful experiences.”
I shared my perspective on the topic. “With this topic one cannot help but question the definition of entrepreneur. I was raised to understand that an entrepreneur is someone who uses multiple mediums of employment to feed a greater goal and career. The best example I have is working at a café and observing all the waste one café can produce. On one hand the peace builder in me wants to solve this problem, but my role in the café does not require this from me. So I surrender to the reality that this is not my café, I am solely a server. In turn, however, I collect the food waste, put them into to-go boxes and hand it to those on the street that are less fortunate. This is where my entrepreneurship lies I am using two mediums of employment to build peace in my community.”
Kate, another member of Holistic Underground, responded with a fresh perspective. “A question that comes up from Sami’s legacy is, ‘What does this world need and how can I serve that?’ I am constantly figuring out the balance of what serves me and what does this planet need that I am able to provide. I lead Moon Ceremonies with Danielle and we are the leaders because we gather people together, but mostly we are the facilitators because we are holding this space for a shift in earthly embodiment.”
Dave, a Board Member of Peaceful World Foundation, brought up a new aspect with his question, “how do we get for-profit entrepreneurs to consider peace building?” He explained that his experience as a lawyer brought him to question how he was serving his community. He would soon come to find himself trying to implement peace building into his work. Dave described a moment he had with clients who were looking for a divorce and how he talked them out of going through with it.
Heidi, Program Director of Peaceful World Foundation, responded “We need to consider how we influence others not only in terms of my actions in this case as an entrepreneur, but how am I influencing others in my being. Influence in my experience is like the pebble that is thrown into the water and harmoniously creates ripples. The influence is small ‘a pebble’ but in the wider community it makes an impact and often not seen by us.”
Danielle, a longtime friend of Peaceful World Foundation, joined in with her response, “What this topic brings up for me is self-study. Knowing what I value keeps me grounded which thus builds my fire. I think all people deep down want a thriving planet, with peace, joy and safety but we must know ourselves to know what our power is and to know what we have to offer to this planet.” Heidi added that the road to self-knowledge is through self-observation.
Mazin described his first experience with the word entrepreneur, explaining that in middle school they taught him that an entrepreneur is someone who takes a risk to make a profit. “As peaceful entrepreneurs, what are we investing in?” he asked. “When we do this self-analysis, who holds us accountable? Our communities do. So we must invest in our ability to be in community.”
Kate questioned peace entrepreneurs from a more disadvantaged view point, “It’s easy to work on inner peace when we lead such privileged lives. We have roofs over our heads, work that pays our bills, beds to sleep in and food to eat, but how can we include those that struggle? How do we take our lessons from our inner reflections and spread them to others; to those who can’t even imagine having inner peace?”
Mazin took this question and explained. “Peace is being in harmony with my values. I may not be able to directly give someone my experience with my own inner peace, but I can facilitate a space for others to experience their own inner peace. To experience inner peace, there is a certain wisdom that comes with it. Wisdom is a combination of knowledge and experience. You cannot give someone wisdom. We can impart knowledge and we can hold the space for someone to gain their own experience. That combination creates wisdom, which is a step toward peace.”
Our journey to find inner peace is an endless one, there is always work to be done. When looking at entrepreneurship we also need to clarify in ourselves our core values. By sharing our shared feelings and experiences this morning we verified in ourselves that incorporating peace is a daily practice of service and reflection.