Our inner game directs our outer game. How developed is your inner game? When you listen to what you most care about and align those values in how you lead yourself and in business, you will triple the bottom line for people, planet, and profit. When you lead from your heart, all actions align with that clear vision, purpose, and mission. It probably comes as no surprise to you that leaders aligned with purpose have been found to financially outperform the market average by 42 percent. Additionally, these purpose-driven leaders and organizations cultivate a strong culture of trust, loyalty, and commitment because their effort and mission is to contribute to the greater good. The inner game rules the outer game—at work and the world. In my experience, conscious leaders have a supreme inner game going on.
As a leadership and organizational development consultant, I have created many training and development programs for businesses and academia that support increasing a conscious inner game and thus a resilient and courageous outer game. I want to share a story of a conscious leader who I have gotten to know in the last year and highlight in my upcoming book, SHINE. Rhea is leading from her heart on the inside and on the outside, and she has created a successful and purposeful business.
Rhea and I met for the first time at Dreamforce 2018, Salesforce’s annual technology conference in San Francisco. I was invited to attend and Rhea spoke on a panel about climate action at work and the world. In 2018, Dreamforce held its first Climate Summit Day, focused on climate awareness and action and how businesses can partner together to create a sustainable world, kicking off the morning with the infamous keynote by Al Gore. The event felt like the perfect place for two climate activists and leaders to meet. Dreamforce is not your typical technology conference, because Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff is not your typical leader. He, in my opinion, has a conscious inner game. Benioff is guided by his own heartfelt commitment to lead responsibly, compassionately, and sustainably.
Rhea Singhal is the CEO and founder of Ecoware, India’s largest sustainable food packaging company. Ecoware is a biodegradable alternative to the single-use plastic that contributes to lasting societal and environmental impact.Rhea’s background as a pharmacist and understanding of disease gave her a bigger perspective and motivation to be part of the change India needed toward responsible consumption and production.
The Problem: Rhea moved from England to Mumbai when she was 28 years old and felt aghast upon seeing all the trash, the alarming amount of single-use plastic consumption, and the absence of waste segregation. The world produces more than 300 million tons of plastic each year. Plastic packaging waste accounts for around 40 percent of the plastic waste generated globally, with half of that coming from Asia. India is home to 1.339 billion people, so imagine the amount of trash that is not being recycled or composted and the health hazard and worldwide catastrophe this can cause. It is not a pretty image.
The Solution: Rhea’s heartfelt commitment of taking care of people and the planet inspired her to create a product that was easy to eat from and safe to throw away. India is a biomass-rich nation with lots of agricultural waste of wheat, rice, and sugar cane. Ecoware has created a positive three-fold impact. The company gives agri-waste to farmers. It has hired 80 low-income workers (the majority of whom are women), who receive skills education, along with pension and health benefits. Rhea and Ecoware have created a brand new industry for employment and a sustainable business model. Ecoware’s products are 100 percent recyclable and will decompose within 90 days with no harmful trace left to the soil, air, or water.
Ecoware has been going strong for nine years, and one of its largest customers is India Railways, which supports the country of India with transportation. Indian Railways serves millions of people a day on its commuter trains, equaling 1 million meals a day. The railway company has partnered with Ecoware to provide compostable meal containers and tableware, saving 1,200 tons of plastic from entering India’s landfills annually. Wow! Additionally, since the partnership with Ecoware began, Indian Railways has offset 16,800 tons of carbon dioxide emissions through displacement of non-eco-friendly alternatives. I asked Rhea what she might say to young or existing leaders about starting their own business and her response was: “ You don’t have to wait for anyone to do something to make an impact. You just decide what matters to you, and get up and do it.” Anyone can be a leader; it is not about titles.
This an exercise I developed and practice weekly to keep me committed to the why and what of my business and purpose.
Identify your heartfelt commitment to inspire the leader within
Okay, now your turn. Maybe you already know what your heartfelt commitment is. If not, here’s an exercise to help you discover it. For this exercise, set aside five minutes in a quiet and comfortable space. Leave your phone to the side. Bring a pen and notebook or paper. Yep, we are going old fashioned, I dare you 🙂
Begin to breathe in and out of your heart. If it feels comfortable for you, you can place a hand on your heart as you breathe in and breathe out.
Now, begin to name silently to yourself things you love.
Let whatever you love arise, and then observe it passing.
Focus on what you love for one minute. Try saying what you love out loud, and allow what you love to take up space.
What do you love so deeply that you would fight to protect it? Choose one thing for right now and, if two show up, focus on those. Feel the love and your commitment to protect what you love in your heart and body. Let this feeling extend outward from your body as it radiates out.
What is the first step you could take today that would support you to protect what you love?
Open your eyes, slowly come back to the present moment and, when you are ready, begin writing.
Write down the one or two things that came up most strongly that you love. Write down your action step—or steps—that you can take today to protect what you most love.
Now, go a little deeper.
What does it look like to engage in this wise action on a weekly basis?
What can you commit to today as your first step?
How might the things you love support the greater good? How does this benefit others?
When you begin to explore what you love and hence what really matters, you also begin to tap into our deeper purpose for being here. You see that your higher purpose is greater than making money, and you can elevate humanity and the world through how you lead and do business.
My heartfelt commitment is to support people and planet to flourish. I achieve this intention by serving leaders and businesses with the inspiration and tools necessary to be a force for good in the world. I believe that when you cultivate a conscious your inner game, you can transform the world. Want to ignite your inner game as a leader? Join me to Flourish.