Contributed by Kate Holden, an entrepreneur, philanthropist and business leader who is currently president of EO Winnipeg and serves on the EO Canada Board as Canada’s Member Products Director. Kate is the founder of The Pourium, a fast-growing retail/e-commerce wine business.
In EO, we often talk about the Four Quadrants—business, family, community and self. We also talk about the Four Capacities—physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual.
After years of Forum, leadership training and learning events, I realized: Entrepreneurs tend to be the least comfortable in the “self” and “soul” areas (myself included).
You may relate to how I once felt about those areas.
I spent the majority of my life aligned with the classic entrepreneurial archetype. You know: The entrepreneur who believes “fast” is too slow and “tomorrow” might as well be next century. I’ve always prioritized growth and acceleration. So, thinking about “the soul” felt slow, intangible and far-removed from my business goals. It felt difficult to wrap my brain (and time) around.
I’m a dreamer, but I’m also pragmatic. I’m a do-er, a happen-maker. Working on my “soul” didn’t seem to fit.
When a fellow entrepreneur introduced me to a Spiritual Coach, I was hesitant—to say the least! But, after nine months of working with my Spiritual Coach, my perspective shifted—and I began to find value in spiritual growth in a way that didn’t feel too “out there.”
When it came time to design a theme for EO’s 2022 Canadian Regional Leadership Summit, I knew I wanted it to focus on the soul.
We spent four days split between Halifax and Toronto listening to presentations, engaging in workshops, and being guided by four women experts. Topics included tarot readings, manifestation and visualization, energy and chakra alignment.
Here are the three biggest learnings my brain (and my soul) took away from the Summit.
1. Spiritual Work = Showing Up As our Best Self
One of the biggest misconceptions about spiritual work is one I shared until recently: That it brings no tangible value or ROI to our companies.
What I learned is that the biggest ROI of spiritual work comes down to the way we show up as leaders.
I hadn’t thought of it as a practice of the soul. Yet, much of what the world’s top leadership thinkers talk about comes down to perspectives, soft skills, mindsets, emotional intelligence (EQ), values, intentionality—all things that are less connected to the brain and more connected to the heart (or soul).
We can learn habits and hacks to help us become better leaders, but we can’t “right-brain” our way into being empathetic, visionary, strategic and connected. The soul helps us fill the large gaps the brain can’t fill on its own.
2. Energy is Everything
I’ve known that energy management is important: Studies confirm that up to 63 percent of entrepreneurs are dealing with or have experienced burnout. It’s a real phenomenon. Leaders struggle to manage wellness in the face of long hours and escalating pressures.
During the Leadership Summit, I learned that energy is not just causally connected to our circumstances; the energy within us is often carried forward. The past is entrenched within today’s energy and affects us, whether we realize it or not.
I hadn’t thought of energy as something that gathers experiences and lives within us. But energy is dynamic—literally!—and our energy fields, or quantum fields, need to be “unblocked” on occasion to clear out that previous build-up of past energy.
Other people can also have a significant effect on our energy. It’s rarely malicious or toxic, but from employees to family members to friends, people tap into our energy because they need it. After interacting with them, you may feel exhausted. Those relationships feel depleting.
“Unblocking” or “resetting”— whatever you want to call it— is a practice which helps recalibrate our energy and ensure we’re accessing the best versions of ourselves.
3. Explore Your Belief Systems
Perhaps the most powerful outcome of spiritual work is the opening, dismantling and resetting of belief systems that underpin everything we do.
The four brilliant women at the Leadership Summit all spoke about belief systems (or “vortexes”) as thoughts and behaviors which keep us locked into certain patterns. Sometimes these are harmless, smaller belief systems we established as kids; sometimes these are fundamental, big-picture belief systems that affect who we are, how we run our companies, and how we engage with our communities.
This process can be an emotional one. I’ve learned, for example, that I have a tendency to source validation in my work output. As a result, I say “yes” way more than “no” when it comes to a new project, leadership role, or professional responsibility.
As a result, I end up taking on more than I can handle. I tie my identity to the things I accomplish, and I deplete my energy on projects that do not always bring me joy.
We rarely realize it consciously, but our belief systems govern everything from decision-making to our ability to dream to our leadership styles. We all have ingrained belief systems. They frame our lives—and sometimes they have lenses or tints to them. Shouldn’t we check in on them every so often?
Spending four days at the 2022 Canadian Regional Leadership Summit talking about the soul was enriching for me (yes, the person who wouldn’t have ever seen herself as a “soul person”).
It doesn’t matter whether you believe in past lives, energy shifts, souls, chakras and auras. I’ve learned that spiritual work is a little like reading a book from an entirely different part of the bookshelf. You may not align fully with the author’s perspective, but you unquestionably learn something new—and it can change you on a deep level.
Looking back, it amazes me: Our remarkable group of seasoned entrepreneurs showed up to such a foreign and, at times, uncomfortable topic with open hearts and open minds. It wasn’t about the specifics of the material; it was about exploring another angle to elevate their leadership capabilities, connect with others and understand themselves.
I left the Leadership Summit with my quantum energy fields bouncing with positive energy. Thank you to everyone who attended!