We can learn a lot from the success of spiritual business leaders like the late Steve Jobs.
There is no doubt that the iPhone has changed the way we function as human beings. Whether or not those changes are positive or negative is a matter of opinion. But I think we can all agree that the impact of the pocket-sized piece of technology on our lives has been significant.
Apple, the maker of the iPhone, has become a household name and the brand is still synonymous with its late co-founder Steve Jobs. Much has been written about his life, which has also been made into a number of major motions pictures since his death in 2011. What is perhaps most impressive about the man is how he managed to channel his spirituality into his work.
Spirituality is defined as “the quality of being concerned with the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.”
When you think of an Apple product, like a laptop or smart phone, it can be difficult to see what, if any, spiritual qualities it has. These are literally physical things. But the long journey these items went through, from the kernel of an idea through the research and development stages and finally to a product that you purchase in a store is one steeped in spiritual concepts. These devices were indeed designed by humans for humans.
“Technology is nothing,” Steve Jobs famously said. “What’s important is that you have a faith in people, that they’re basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them.”
If spirituality is the quality of being concerned with the human spirit, you can easily see why this characteristic is essential in any business leader worth their salt. But human concerns, like staff wellbeing and client relationships, are so often neglected in the pursuit of profit. Spiritual leaders know too well that human concerns will always be more powerful and rewarding to nurture than material ones.
One of the greatest privileges of my role as Managing Director of Acuity Funding is the ability to travel to different countries and meet people from different cultures. I try and always keep an open mind; to reserve judgement, and accept that however much I prepare, the unexpected will always unfurl in strange and, at times, stressful ways.
Shutting myself off from spiritual growth has a profound negative impact on my personal relationships. And in an industry like finance where relationships are critical, this attitude can become a business risk. Particularly in Asian countries, where I spend much of my time and where people often have a greater appreciation for spiritual concepts.
There is a strong relationship between spirituality and leadership that is rarely discussed. In the cut and thrust of big city life and big business deals we can so easily forget that we are all human beings with our own unique spirit. Knowing yourself is an important first step to knowing others. As a veteran of commercial finance broking, people often mistake me for being some sort of numbers genius. In fact, I have spent most of my life studying people – primarily their behaviours and decisions – in a business context. I’m always searching for what I can learn from others.
It’s an education that will never end. Knowing myself and knowing others has been instrumental in my success as a business owner. For me, the keys to a long and successful business career are the relationships you build on a foundation of spiritual principles.