From Profitability to Prosperability

Shifting the focus in business from wealth to true prosperity

Whereas wealth stagnates, prosperity is a flow. We receive and then we give, creating a vacuum into which life once again flows. ~ Richard Rudd, founder of Gene Keys

I used to be a great fan of capitalism and the American Dream. I was compelled by the seductive principles of self-determination, limitlessness and the ability for anyone to pull themselves up by the bootstraps through sheer determination and hard work.

Through decades and multiple careers, I learned to play the game very well. I made lots of money, earned fancy executive titles, launched several new businesses, and was seen as a leader in various fields.

So why, after “doing all the right things” and climbing the ladder to great heights of success, was I feeling more stressed, burned out, and unfulfilled than ever?

Over time, like shaking off the grogginess of a drug-induced sleep, I began to see that capitalism is a never-ending hamster wheel that continually requires us to run faster, do more, try harder ~ pursuing a destination that is always just slightly out of our reach, seeking to fill a hole that only grows larger the more we run.

Capitalism, though alluring, is deeply flawed.

The primary focus in capitalism is on creating short-term profit and amassing wealth. Individuals and companies deemed the most successful are those who have the most Profitability, or the ability to generate the highest income remaining after expenses.

In other words, you “win” by keeping the most and giving away the least.

In this model, with its tunnel-vision focus on profitability:

  • Organizations seeking ever more efficiency ask: How can I get the most out of these resources {machines, people, and the land} by expending the least {time, energy, attention, money} on those resources?
  • Investors seeking higher returns on their investment {the glorified ROI} ask: How can I get the most from this company by investing the least in this company?
  • Employees and contractors {even those earnest and well-meaning} seeking to survive in this system find themselves asking: How can I be paid the most amount of money by this company while expending the least amount of my time, energy and attention for this company?

Pause to feel into that for just a moment …. Does this seem like a healthy model to you? Does it feel regenerative, empowering, uplifting?

Yeah, me neither.

Our entire economic system is rooted in lack and scarcity, and inevitably begets more of the same. Placing the focus on Profitability incentivizes hoarding, stockpiling and withholding to generate Wealth.

This leads to a massive imbalance and goes directly against the principles of Nature.

The Great Secret of Prosperity

Sequoia National Park | Photo by Josh Carter

Once the fruit has flowered, the tree drops it to the ground. Nature doesn’t hoard. Nature is constantly flowering and releasing in tune with the seasons. This is the great secret of prosperity — the secret of flow. ~ Richard Rudd

Trees have been found to share nutrients and other resources, both within their own species and across species, often working symbiotically with nearby fungi. And they don’t just move resources from those with too much to those with not enough ~ there is instead a free flowing exchange back and forth.

What if we aligned ourselves more with nature?

What if we turned capitalism inside out and upside down?

What if we measured the success of businesses not by how much they kept for themselves but by how much they gave away ~ how much they positively impacted the lives of the people within their organization, their community, and the planet at large?
I love to make up new words, so let’s call this new focus Prosperability ~ the ability to generate the greatest prosperity for oneself and others.

True prosperity is about living in your Zone of Genius, expressing your unique gifts in service of a greater whole, and operating in the regenerative flow of giving and receiving.

Profitability asks, “How can I get the most by giving the least?”

Prosperability asks “How can I give the most while accumulating the least?”

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not advocating sacrifice, martyrdom, or socialism. I am in favor of all of us receiving a very healthy income, enjoying amazing experiences, and having nice things that we use and enjoy.

We are not here to live like paupers. We are here to experience the incredible richness and abundance this life has to offer.

For this to really work, we must have our essentials for thriving met. But how do we generate the income and what do we do with the surplus?

Do we believe the story that resources are scarce, competing with others to get a bigger piece of the pie before it’s gone? Or do we focus on collaboration, synergy and co-creation, and align ourselves with the regenerative laws of nature?

Do we hoard the income, squirrel it away, living in fear of the day when we stop receiving? Or do we share our riches, share our unique gifts and genius, in service of the well-being of others and a higher-functioning whole?

In giving, we create more space for receiving. In sharing, we trust in the abundance of life and allow for the continued flow that is naturally present to move through us.

Photo by Daniil Silantev

The times in which we live call for a wholesale shift in our economic model and the very foundations of business.

We have been conditioned to buy into a deeply distorted model ~ one where Profitability is confused with Purpose and where impact is viewed as a luxury, an after-thought or a marketing tactic.

In the new-paradigm business world that is emerging, Profitability is seen not as an end but as a means to support the essential purpose of a regenerative organization created and relentlessly driven to make a positive impact.

It’s time for those of us who resonate with pioneering the new frontiers of business to move beyond Conscious Capitalism and triple-bottom-line models. Rather than asking “How do we do capitalism better?”, we can begin asking the deeper questions:

  • Why does our business or initiative exist in the first place? {hint: it’s not to return profits to shareholders}
  • What is the vision that guides us?
  • What is the impact we are uniquely designed to make?
  • Is our current model fulfilling our core mission?
  • What is in the way of the natural flow of abundance, the energy of giving and receiving, that wants to run through our organization?

The best way I know to gain clarity, get to the heart of our purpose, and to access our genius {personally and organizationally} is to ask this:

What is the highest service I can bring for my fellow human beings and the Earth?

By asking this Grail question, we open the floodgates of abundance and true prosperity ~ in our organizations, in the personal lives of all who are touched by our initiatives, and in the world at large.

By placing the essential purpose of the organization or initiative at the center of our focus ~ seeing the purpose not as an after-thought but as the orienting flag that informs and guides all decisions and actions ~ we can bring our energies into right alignment with the intelligence of the universe.

When we are expressing our unique genius, and aligned to a mission of service and mutual thriving, profits are a natural by-product of the true prosperity we are generating.

The more we apply this in our personal lives and in our businesses, the more everyone wins.

Rather than competing for seemingly scarce resources in a dog-eat-dog, win-lose game, we can lift each other up. We can celebrate, be inspired by and learn from businesses who are creating positive impact in the world.

We have more than enough natural and human resources in this world for everyone to thrive. We have simply bought into a system that has created a tremendous misallocation of those resources, a system founded in lack and scarcity that has dammed the organic flow of abundance.

And it is in our power ~ right here, right now ~ to turn this around. As we begin operating from a place of abundance, proving to our minds what we know in our hearts is possible, our natural state of sharing and serving will catch on like wildfire.

This is how we shift exponentially from a world focused on Profitability, rooted in lack and scarcity, to a world intent on Prosperability, rooted in abundance and mutual thriving.

To prosper, our lives must be an equal balance of giving and receiving. We must serve ourselves, our relationships, and the world in equal measure. ~ Richard Rudd

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