General WorkPlace Spirituality

The Search for Spirituality When Starting a New Business

I haven’t written in a while, despite the fact that there has been a plethora of good subject matter. After all, on the Jewish side, the High Holidays have come and gone, as well as the pilgrimage festival of Sukkot and the celebration of Torah called Simchat Torah. On the workplace spirituality side of things, I’ve been busily starting up a business, which ought to provide plenty of opportunity for finding moments of spiritual wonder. And yet, despite all this, I haven’t been writing. More accurately, I suppose, because of all this, I haven’t been writing.

I spent the High Holidays in New Jersey, at Fort Dix, leading services at the Main Chapel on base.  Most of the congregants were not active duty military, but rather folks retired from the military who live in the area. It was a wonderful community, and a real pleasure to spend the Holidays there. However, the holidays did fall just a couple of weeks before CubeSpace opened for business. So I flew out to NJ for Rosh Hashanah, flew back to Portland for a week of frantic preparation, flew back to NJ before Yom Kippur, and then back to Portland the day after Yom Kippur, arriving back just in time for Eva (my spouse and business partner) to pick me up at the airport, drive us straight to CubeSpace where orientation began for our employees about 30 minutes later. That was October 3rd, and some days it feels like the last time I stopped moving was when I was on the plane on the way to Portland.

So, what are the spiritual lessons of this period of time? What spiritual insights can I glean from phone systems that work perfectly until the first customer walks in, and then takes 30 minutes to fix. Or from a point of sales database that tested perfectly every time, and then refused to run the first two credit card transactions customers wanted to run? Or from printers that theoretically should work for every computer system, but somehow won’t let either Eva or myself print?

As I take a moment and think about it, I am struck by the patience and support that has been shown us by everyone, whether vendors, clients, staff or friends. Everyone has been wishing us well, and very understanding about the little hiccups along the way. People have been incredibly generous with suggestions, time and referrals.

It has also been a lesson for me in patience and action. I recognize the need for patience in waiting for business to develop, and, at the same time, that there are things to be done in developing that business. There is networking that can be done, which may or may not bring in business, but failure to do the networking ensures that it will not bring in the business. The knowledge remains, however, that however much  networking we may do, we still need to be patient, and let the business grow.

In some ways, this is very much parallel to the quest for spiritual fulfillment. There are things that you can do to encourage a sense of spiritual fulfillment, but many of them do not have quick payoffs. Instead, they require time and patience, without really knowing whether they will be effective in the end. Nonetheless, we know we have to try, even when it feels hard, if we want the possibility of fulfillment.

Overall, at the moment, I am tired, but also feeling fulfilled by my work, both rabbinic and entrepreneurial. And at the same time, I recognize the need to make more time for spiritual practice and reflection…and writing about that reflection.