November 20, 2019

The Off-site Perspective

We recognize the importance of self-reflection, but there is also tremendous value in stepping back as a business or a family to contemplate the bigger picture, the higher purpose, the deeper “why” behind it all. As we embark on our first company off-site, here are some thoughts on the value of briefly disengaging from the “world of the 10,000 things.”


Jeff Krasno: Hi, I'm Jeff Krasno and welcome to Commune, a global wellness community and online course platform featuring some of the world's greatest teachers. We are on a mission to inspire, heal, pass down wisdom, and bring the world closer together. This is the Commune Podcast, where each week we explore the ideas and practices that help us live this healthy, connected, and purpose filled life.

Now I hope that you as a listener to the Commune Podcast, that you've learned something from these amazing guests that we've had on the show, gems of wisdom that you've been able to apply to your own life. Well, guess what? I am right there with you. I often refer to myself as a sponge, a somewhat plagiaristic one absorbing the thoughts and insights of all these brilliant authors and thought leaders through interviewing all these folks, listening to other podcasts like Stephen West's Philosophize This. Reading endless books, most recently, Michael Singer's The Untethered Soul. Yuval Harari, Sapiens, Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet, you begin to slowly develop your own intellectual ecosystem of how you see the world.

Now This autodidactic process mixed with enough espresso and a fair amount of puttering around in my Prius often triggers car rants where I wax poetic and sometimes pathetic on a variety of topics from, why my kid should play sports, to what is my life's purpose. Now, I often do this with a British accent. Yes, inspired by Russell Brand, and while my kids and their friends roll their eyes from the backseat.

Now this week we're having our first company offsite and as I was pondering the importance of it, I recorded this Stream of Consciousness episode on why offsites are important for teams, families, and for yourself. Here we go. I'm Jeff Krasno and welcome to Commune.

So a few weeks ago a number of people in my office came to me with the proposition of doing a company offsite focused on mission and values. Now, for those of you not acquainted with the vernacular of offsite, it's generally a day or two when the whole company, or a section of the company gathers at a place, not the office, tends to get off of their phones and engage in a variety of activities sometimes trust and team building, sometimes vulnerability focused, et cetera. Now, my first reaction to the suggestion was of course spoke to my sort of lazy reactive mind, which gave me sort of the immediate response of like, Oh my God, we already know who we are. You know, we're girded in meeting and just the disruption to the team, and we've got so much to do, and we're going to get behind, and the anxiety and the stress that's going to cost.

But of course upon further reflection, that's sort of like saying like, I'm not going to meditate. I'm not going to take any inventory of myself. I'm not going to contemplate who I am beyond the world of the 10,000 things. I'm not going to think about who the I is, who the witnesses, who the subject is beyond the thoughts and emotions and objects that I perceived through my limited five senses. Nope. I'm just going to sit here in this material world flagellating to a fro without any moral compass, with sort of completely rudderless. You know, just where my actions and my works are essentially just dictated by external circumstances and they're not coming from a place of eternal truth, universal principles, perennial precept. No, they just kind of are a response or reaction to what is happening around me. And of course I would never want to live that way.

And I do constantly take inventory of myself and examine whether or not I am living an authentic life, and by authentic life I've described that as, my works and my actions are in complete alignment with my highest ideals, despite the existence of any external circumstances. And this is why off-sites are important, not just for teams, but for yourself. And it also can be any kind of team. It can be your family, it can be your business, it can be an athletic team, it can be a church group. Essentially it can be any team to then take time to take the inventory to see if indeed your are engaging in right work and right action and essentially how you are expressing yourself in the material world is aligning with your highest ideals from your spiritual world. I think that there is a good distinction to me made between essentially the two realities in which we coexist.

Like I said, there is this sort of material world what allowed to cause the world of 10,000 things and it's often governed by your ego. That is a reflection of everything that we do in life every day, the cultural artifacts that we create, the sort of biochemical processes in our body that we maintain and obviously going to work, producing goods, writing books, making online courses if you will. Now that world, the world that is based very solidly in time and space and in location and form is generally governed by reason. We have a rational approach to our behavior in that world. We sort of apply some form of the scientific method to how we navigate life's daily chores, how we're going to get cross town, how we're going to pick up our kids, what we're going to do at work on a particular day and that is a reason is important.

The scientific method is important. Experimenting, coming up with hypotheses, analyzing data and coming to rational reasonable decisions is an important thing. The problem with the scientific method and reason and rationality as sort of to have complete faith in that veracity of those things is somewhat of an issue because essentially by definition the scientific method involves, has value neutrality and by that I mean there are no universal truths. There are no perennial virtues and values, there are no final causes.

There is essentially and just sort of experimentation and data analysis and then decision making. The problem with that if you are living a life in the material world that is only governed by reason, that it becomes devoid of values and virtues. Essentially your maintenance of your body, sleep, food, going to the bathroom, drinking water, and your work, your sort of economic relationship with the world around you become the sole identifiers of your life and you are not essentially laddering those things where you're not making decisions around your works and actions through any particular value lens. And this is why, again, it is important to essentially have these times of contemplation to sort of connect with your highest spiritual principles, these things that are essentially outside of time and space that are outside of location and form that are infinite, that can essentially inform, create the lens through which you make the decisions that govern your actions and works in a material world.

If you don't do that, it is very, very easy to fall into relativism. That is essentially where modernity has largely taken us where there aren't really any universal truth or ideals. There aren't any final causes. Essentially we are just kind of like moving back and forth by the biases of everyday life, by our culture, by our economic system, et cetera, and we are not thriving or striving to live towards the ideal. This was very prominent in Greek culture, this ideal that essentially your work and your family life and your biochemistry and all that kind of stuff, it was essentially you maintained those things to actually live a life of virtue and value in the political world, and I don't mean political by labor and conservative, or Democrat, Republican, I mean the exchange of the public exchange of ideas that help to instill meaning in things.

I think what we've found largely in our modern world is that we, though there have been incredible advancements through reason, rationality the scientific method in let's say medicine or agricultural technology that has allowed more people to eat, but one could also say there's a massive famine when it comes to morality and values because we rarely take spiritual inventory of our lives and our structures and systems, our governing bodies have become largely agents for reason and rationality and capitalism. This is sort of the kind of definition of neo-liberalism that has essentially like privatized all elements of our life and no longer exists to serve the people, but really exists to serve a system which is capitalism, corporations, et cetera, that maintains stability through propagating a system that establishes sort of a supposedly mutually beneficial economic relationship between men and women.

So if we essentially offsite, if we contemplate, if essentially we go through these processes of yes, there is a tree and yes, there is a car and I see those things but I am the one that sees those things, that there is an I behind it, that I am the subject, that I am the witness. And you can apply that same exercise to all of your five senses. You can also understand that you are not your thoughts, that thoughts pass in and out of view like visitors to a house, emotions, the same thing, but there is an eye, there is a soul, there is a seat of the soul. There is a consciousness that exists beyond what we can see, hear, touch, smell, feel, et cetera, and that that consciousness doesn't necessarily even live in our bodies, which are also a [inaudible 00:13:17] that will come and go and and disintegrate and decay.

That it actually, this consciousness, this I beyond objects, feelings and emotions exist as a universal consciousness that many say is sort of an invisible thread that connects all of us and and when you begin to mine that, when you begin to mind consciousness, even the awareness of consciousness, what you come to is that beyond the reality that we exist in every day, this world of the 10,000 things. There is a part of us that is infinite, that is outside of time and space that is outside of form and location and that is essentially universal. This is where universal truths, the true forms if you will, in Plato's language exist. When you meditate on those things, as many profits and sages, religious leaders, poets and mystics have over millennia, there are a number of themes that essentially come through. Virtues like compassion, forgiveness, charity, persistent, many of these things, humility, that roll up maybe into the larger rubric of love if you will.

And when you essentially come back and establish those universal values for you, for your company, for your family, it becomes so much easier to make decisions that aren't relativistic, that are essentially authentic, that essentially it is these perennial precepts and ideas that can essentially create the authentic life, the life where your works and actions are in alignment with your highest ideal despite any external circumstances that may exist. This is what Siddhartha the Buddha might refer to as right work or right action, and this is again why it is important to engage in these kinds of offsites.

Now for companies this can be extremely helpful because if you have a centralized mission, a centralized set of universal precepts and ideals and through which you can make the decisions of daily life, then you can essentially decentralize decision making and that is key for the growth of a company or of honestly any entity or just yourself, that essentially you are living in alignment with your highest principles. And for teams it's great because they essentially just can apply that lens to a variety of different decision making, like for example, I believe that we are all connected by a power that is greater than us and sort of recognizing that is spirituality. That's it.

So if I were to essentially apply that universal principle to Commune, and of course I did when I named the company because Commune is a reflection of the interconnectivity that exists between humans at a consciousness level. If I apply that ideal, then it becomes very clear in terms of how we conduct our business. If we believe that we are interconnected beings, then creating partnerships are a natural thing for us to do. Creating relationships with teachers and community, fostering those things is something that we would essentially just naturally do as it would be an alignment with our highest principles.

I would also probably underscore that with the notion of us all being interconnected seems to suggest that we would believe in the innate goodness, the innate nature, that the innate nature of humans is good and that we will trust and people are fallible and will make decisions that come from the ego in the material world. But at their essence, people are good and that we are essentially going to conduct our business, our company as if we are all connected, and that the innate nature of human beings is one of goodness. And so we're moving through. So one of the defining values might be in this case trust, that we are willing to trust in our fellow employees and in our potential fellow partners, that we are going to give people essentially the benefit of the doubt. Because one of our precepts is that we believe that we are all interconnected, that that interconnection is based on love. And that essentially the innate nature of human beings is goodness, and it is the ego in the material world that makes them fallible from time to time.

And this can be quite powerful because essentially if you're living in alignment with your highest principles, either as a company or as a human, you will begin to attract others that are also living in alignment with their highest ideas and principles. There is a quote that I often go back to, which is from Wayne Dyer, "The angels you wish to attract into your life will appear when they recognize themselves in you." A company or a human that is living in alignment with their greatest principles will begin to attract the angels they wish to appear into their life will begin to attract great partnerships, whether in our case those partnerships may be with teachers, they may be with other companies, they may be with nonprofit groups, theorists, poets, et cetera.

I believe that's not just essentially the law of attraction, that although there is an argument to be made for that, that is essentially that the light, that people that are living in alignment with their highest principles innately recognize others that are doing the same. So this is I think why you find that companies, individuals, groups that tend to spend time constantly aligning their work with their values, honestly tend to be quite successful. Now, this is all to say that I highly encourage every individual, every group, every company, every family, to have an offsite. To essentially go through processes of identifying your highest principles and then thinking about how those principles actually play out in your works and actions. These principles are infinite. They are universal. The expression of them might be particularly finite and unique and distinct, but they are always laddering up to something that is outside of time and space that is outside of form and location that essentially forms the essence of who we are.

That's it for today on The Commune. I hope you enjoyed this episode and please leave us a review or send me an email about your off-sites, both personal and team at [email protected] I can't respond to every email, but my mom will read every one. I'm Jeff Krasno and thanks for listening.

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