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The Zen Entrepreneur: how to attain spiritual and work-life bliss



Rizwan Virk, based in Silicon Valley, is an angel investor, independent film-maker, and high-tech entrepreneur, having co-founded a successful line of companies including Gameview Studios, CambridgeDocs, Brainstorm Technologies and iddiction. He's also a spiritual seeker and author – most recently releasing the second edition of his book Zen Entrepreneurship: Walking the Path of the Career Warrior on Amazon.

Here, Virk imparts some of his hard-won insights on how to attain spiritual bliss in the business world...

Rizwan Virk

Finding your true path

I usually tell people that if you want to be happy and financially successful, it's not always as simple as "do what you love and the money will follow". In fact, I think it's a little more complicated than that - I've discovered that to be both, you have to find an intersection of the following three spheres at any given time:

1. What do you like to do or what do you want to do? What makes you happy? We usually have some idea of what we want to do.

2. What are you good at? This takes a bit of honesty, which can be difficult to do with ourselves. Sometimes it even requires asking others who may see us more objectively than we see ourselves.

3. What does the market need? It's all well and good to do what you like and are good at, but if there's no one in the market willing to pay for that right now, then you need to rethink the first two spheres.

I believe it's possible for a person and/or a company to find an intersection of all three spheres. It might mean modifying what you're working on and what your project is in order to be a little more within the intersection of these things.

Living your dream career is about more than the right intent

Too often, we are told that if we want to accomplish something in life, we just have to visualise it and believe it.  However, I found that the secret to manifestation is much more complex than this – this led me to what I believe are the "four keys" to manifestation:

1. Right Intent: Visualising and setting your mind on what you want and mobilising unconscious and spiritual forces in your favour.

2. Right Patterns: We have to find techniques that are appropriate to our unique patterns: If we're someone that jumps gung-ho into something for a few weeks, gets distracted and the same thing happens five times in a row... There's a pattern there we have to account for.

3. Right Technique: This is about finding techniques in the external world that can get you to where you want to go. But even more than that, it's about discerning which techniques work with your patterns as opposed to techniques that work with other people's patterns.

4. Right Timing: This last key is the most abstract in a way but the most important. It's about appropriateness at a given point in your life. There are several elements to this which include your “inner timing” – you may really want to manifest something but your inner timing may be off. Maybe you want to start a company but you can't because you've got family obligations and financial obligations.

Then, there's the timing of the market. I may have wanted to invent a smartphone and really have it take off in the 90s but the market wasn't ready and I know a lot of guys who tried and failed.

Use work as meditation

Sigmund Freud once said that life consists mainly of love and work. But really if you add up the hours in life for people with regular jobs – it consists mostly of work and sleep... You can actually utilise both of those things – your time at work and your time asleep – as part of your spiritual development. You can use your work as a form of meditation. And this begins with being mindful at work and finding ways to really focus on a task and cutting other distractions during a period of time – and that's really hard these days.

office yoga

Life is a treasure hunt: Be an Indiana Jones and search for clues

Like a good mystery or treasure hunt, you're being shown clues along the way in life. The treasure we're leading up to is really the person we are really meant to be and our purpose in this life. It leads to what I call “the warrior's path” and that's the combination of lessons we're here to learn and the contributions we're here to make to society or other people... You can learn to do this by paying attention to these clues:

Synchronicity: When something happens in the external world that correlates with what you've been thinking about internally.
Hunches: A little voice whispering – that hunch of intuition. Follow up on it.
Errant phrase: When you overhear a phrase and it calls out to you.

Clues are very personalised. As an example of following up on some of these clues, I'll tell you a story:

In one of my companies, I was struggling with what to name our company. I happened to be on vacation visiting my parents in Michigan when I noticed a company's name on the side of a building called ArborText (as in Ann Arbor in Michegan) and I had a funny feeling about it... It wasn't so much the name itself, but it evoked an interesting reaction where I felt it was kind of important.

When I got back to Cambridge I looked them up and found that they named the company after their college town of Ann Arbor. So I thought we should name our company after our college town which was Cambridge, Massachusetts, and so we named our company CambridgeDocs...

I found out that ArborText was in a very similar market space to us so I contacted the founders. On my next vacation home, I went to show them our product and they really liked it. They ended up as our biggest customer and getting us into a lot of big companies like Toyota and Boeing – companies we would never have gotten into on our own.

clean me

See things clearly – clean the "dirty windshield"

You hear stories all the time where, for example, a person was able to publish their book at the right time and the company started and sold without making a lot of effort. That's because they were in harmony with the timing of the market, their own internal timing and appropriateness from their own karmic influences. That's an important factor which requires you to “see clearly” and learn your patterns.

If you look at yoga traditions that talk about the mind and the body being a series of clear sheaths (called khosas)– one inside the other which let through clear light. What happens is – as you go through life – you start to muddy these and develop scars and imperfections within them (called samskaras) which don't let light through...

The process of doing things for yourself like yoga and meditation can help to clear these sheaths... As they start to open up, it's like cleaning a dirty windshield so we can see things more clearly and listen to our intuition better. Eventually, that leads to a larger pattern emerging in our lives forming the tapestry of different things that we – as individuals – are interested in that are unique to us.

Image credits: 
yoga: Flickr user Jean Henrique Wichinoski
office yoga: Flickr user Aviva West 
dirty car: Flickr user Terry Madeley

For related posts, check out:

10 tips for entrepreneurs to put the “life” back into their work-life balance
The “Feelgood Manager”: is ensuring workplace happiness a full-time job?
Couple co-founders: Does mixing love and business work?

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