Five Spiritual Practices Every Entrepreneur Can Use, With Gabrielle Bernstein


Running a business doesn’t need to be a headache and entrepreneurs need not board the strugglebus every week. There is another way. Rather than take difficult conversations at face value, kick off at abrupt emails or have hostile relationships with colleagues and suppliers, inviting spiritual practices into a business owner’s life could help it thrive whilst creating a happier team and reducing stress for all.

Gabrielle Bernstein is a New York Times bestselling author who has penned nine books, including The Universe Has Your Back, Super Attractor, and her latest, Happy Days, The Guided Path from Trauma to Profound Freedom and Inner Peace, published today. For over sixteen years Bernstein has been transforming lives, including her own. Bernstein featured on Oprah’s SuperSoul Sunday as a “next-generation thought leader” and her new book promises to “answer your questions about why you feel blocked, scared, anxious, depressed, or alone,” as well as “liberate you from the belief system that has kept you small for so long.” The book is for entrepreneurs seeking answers and frameworks to unlock their potential.

Freedom from belief systems that don’t serve you is a powerful move, but the solutions lie in a place you may have thus far been oblivious to or disregarded. I interviewed Bernstein to find out the five spiritual practices that every entrepreneur can use to become the new and best version of themselves.

Practising gratitude

“Every Monday my leadership team and I do a call where we go around and say our gratitudes for between forty minutes to an hour.” This is how Bernstein likes to start the week, “and we never skip it.” Each week concludes with a high-level report from each member about what they are working on, and their week’s successes, but it begins with gratitude. Bernstein said this practice is “a healthy way of staying on track and not feeling all over the place.” Not only that, but it strengthens the team’s bond and means everyone feels listened to and recognised for their contribution.

Many teams give praise to each other but those at the level above give thanks for each other. Within a weekly gratitude call each team member might specify some invaluable support they received from a colleague, great feedback from a client, something new they learned or a particular enjoyable moment in their role. Focusing on gratitude helps leaders and team members stay present and slow down whilst subconsciously training their brain to notice more good things. More being grateful equals more to be grateful for entering your life and business, as well as for your team.

Surrendering the need for control

Many business owners want to control everything. It can feel like part of the role. Over time, they internalise philosophies of “I’m the only one who can get anything done around here,” “I need to keep pushing for success,” or worse, “I can’t trust anyone else to do it right.” These are some of the beliefs Bernstein thinks might be keeping you small. Owning a 30-person business herself, she’s had these thoughts too. “I used to need control. If everything wasn’t working out the way I expected, like if the internet went down during a webinar, or if my team wasn’t doing things the way I wanted them to, my old self would have gotten really angry.” Bernstein explained she would find herself overcompensating for feeling out of her depth by “being very controlling, managing every aspect of a process and just getting it all done [her]self.” This is a common thread in entrepreneurs who respond by “not getting enough help, not having the right support team in place and trying to do everything solo.”

Whilst it’s clear that struggling solo is not the solution, awareness is required to recognise these unhelpful beliefs. Bernstein advises you first “notice your trigger.” When you feel anger or anxiety mounting from a perceived lack of control, notice “how you feel and the way that you react.” She said the more you notice your patterns, the more you can “self-regulate in the moment. Then in that moment you can take a beat. You can take a breath. Place your right hand on your heart and your left hand on your stomach and just breathe deeply for a minute.” Bernstein said this will “interrupt that trigger with a mindful pattern, so that you don’t get into a react loop that repeats indefinitely.”

Reciting affirmations

The human mind is powerful and it believes whatever is said or thought. In that case, filling it with empowering, helpful messages can change the way you think and operate. When Bernstein was getting hung up on feeling like she had to do everything herself, she made a plan to turn her life and business around. “I would create affirmations such as ‘Everything is happening around me and I am truly taken care of’ and I would repeat it regularly until I believed it.” She went further to incorporating these messages by putting them on her office wall. “Affirming how you want to feel rather than focusing on what’s not working is how you change your unhelpful beliefs to useful ones.” Bernstein suggests that “if you’re in a lack mentality (the opposite of an abundance mentality), affirm that you are open. Say ‘I’m open to creative possibilities for money’, or ‘I’m open to creative possibilities for success.’ Reframe things.”

Affirmations are powerful. They channel your thoughts, words and actions in a productive direction and can transform how you feel about your business and therefore the success you make of it. After noticing when you feel stressed, anxious or angry in a work context, see if you can find an affirmation that reframes the notion. “You can’t say something you don’t believe right now, but you can say you are open to believing something in the future.” This is where “I have nothing to worry about,” which you might not believe, becomes “I am open to the possibility of solutions,” which you can.

Acting from intention

Bernstein said that one of the keys to success as an entrepreneur working with a team is to “make sure that you do everything from a place of intention.” She practices this with her team. “Whenever we write an email, create a sales page or launch a book we always get very clear on the intention.” Rather than think in terms of pure metrics or numbers on a spreadsheet, Bernstein invites her team to ask, “What is the service-related intention? How many people do we want to serve or how do we want to serve people? After that, what is the business intention? How many books do we want to sell?” She said that having clear service-related intentions coupled with clear financial intentions can help her team “stay on track and stay steady with what they are trying to do.”

As a leader, Bernstein said that being intentional about your boundaries is paramount, admitting she “used to get too involved.” She said that creating healthy, intentional boundaries is about “being a safe place for your team members to go if they’re struggling, supporting them with time off or maybe giving them some guidance and support systems.” She said you shouldn’t, however, “be their support system, because if you start to create that co-dependent relationship with your employees, it doesn’t work.” Intentional plans, intentional boundaries. Taking inspired action in everything you do.

Compassionate questioning

How spiritually aligned can an ambitious entrepreneur be when things aren’t going right? What about when they suspect a team member isn’t playing their part? Bernstein has an answer for approaching the stickiest of situations, with clients and team members alike. She advised to “always come to them with curiosity and compassion.” She added that when “you come from that energy of curiosity, passion and calmness, you can kind of say anything. They’re picking up on the energy more than the words.” So rather than accusatory quizzing and passive aggressive comments, Bernstein recommended, “calmly approach and ask, ‘Hey, I’m just wondering how you’re doing,’ adding elements of compassion, ‘I know it’s really busy right now,’ before stating how you’re feeling and why and inviting comment.” Use phrases such as “I’m noticing that…” and “This is how I feel” so as not to trigger defensiveness with blame or shame.

Delivering information and inviting responses in a compassionate and curious way means, according to Bernstein, “they’re going to be able to hear it, they’re going to be able to receive it.” Bernstein believes saying nicer words with bad energy is far worse and less conducive to success than her method. In Bernstein’s new book, Happy Days, she covers the five responses to feeling shame, which are to, “attack the other, attack yourself, deny, fawn and cling or withdraw.” None of these are reactions you want to trigger in team members and compassionate questioning could be the answer.

Surrendering control helps build a team that supports your vision and helps you avoid having too much on your plate. Practising gratitude means you can flourish together. Reciting affirmations reprograms your mind for success and acting with intention means your energy is channelled into productivity of the best kind. Finally, compassionately and curiously approaching challenges means an aligned and connected team that need never feel shame. Happy business moments lead to happy teams and happy days with success in abundance.

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