A few years ago, someone sent me a message on LinkedIn. I didn’t know him, but he had searched “spiritual investor” and, for some reason, I showed up in the results.
This was intriguing to me because I had never described myself as a spiritual investor before, but I realized that was an appropriate, aspiring term to describe my pursuits in life. Here at One Planet, we believe in measuring our success partly by how we spend our resources to serve others and impact the world in a positive way. As a member of the Baha’i Faith, I was taught that “work done in the spirit of service is the highest form of worship.” So, I was raised to not see spirituality and entrepreneurship as dichotomous entities, but rather to see them as two complementary areas that will only lead to a more enriching career.
Too often, we focus exclusively on making money and accumulating wealth for the majority of our lives. We tell ourselves that we will become a philanthropist and do amazing work only after we have accumulated wealth. However, we can’t keep delaying acts of service until it is convenient for us. Service is what adds meaning and purpose to our lives. When we focus on the happiness of others more than we focus on our own happiness, something special happens—we become the happiest version of ourselves also. We need to understand that our life’s journey has to be uplifting and a life of service is what makes our journey worth living.
To me, being a spiritual investor, or spiritual entrepreneur, means caring about the footprint we leave behind. Everything we do and every financial decision we make leaves a lasting trace. It’s up to us to decide what we want that trace to be.
This requires us to go beyond the archaic way of building a business solely focused on maximizing personal wealth and shareholder value. Of course, profits will always be an important part of the equation—they just can’t be the most important part and certainly not the only metric—as we make maximizing our impact our primary responsibility.
That’s why, as an aspiring spiritual investor, I try to do what I can to influence the companies and founders we invest in to think about their impact and make that part of the fabric of their culture. For example, all of our founders, as part of the investment they receive from us, sign a document that is called, “For the Betterment of the World.” It’s not a contractual obligation but a commitment they make because of their love for humanity to devote a portion of their time, talent, their company’s resources and expertise to making the world a better place.
We are spiritual beings who are having a physical experience for a short period of time. As entrepreneurs and business owners, we should consider that in all of our decisions. This can be a profound lens to look through that will ultimately guide us to have more noble and purposeful actions. Oddly enough, this will result in a more profitable and sustainable business also, and it will take us on a journey that will make our lives more impactful, joyful and worthwhile.