What is enough? A question worth deepening

Yesterday I met two entrepreneurs who came to set up their business in Vietnam. We had such a lovely chat over our life interests and pursuits. Out of curiosity, I asked them how they envisioned their business to be. “Its going to be the Apple of food industry, an innovative company” was the answer. This got me reflect on my experience in Bhutan last June 2015.

Group circles with GNH Centre Bhutan June 2015

Last year in my study trip with GNH Centre Bhutan (called the Inner Dimension of Business Transformation), we had a circle discussion about the happiness societal model, what is applicable, what is not (yet) applicable or missing in the framework. At first it was meant to be a discussion based on the framework, but it soon accelerated into a rather philosophical debate. The fact that we come from different parts of the world made our reality very different from one another. There were only me and another participant from South Africa, the rest of our group came from the US, UK, Australia and Western Europe. To developing countries, economic growth is so crucial that it will no doubt remain the most important drive for the time being. It is very difficult, if not possible, to turn that around and discuss societal happiness in the first place. Gladly we did not come to a closure kind of conclusion that it can only be the Kingdom of Bhutan for such an ideal gross national happiness model to be applied. We came to a shared viewpoint that if we ourselves can find a way to answer the question, WHAT IS ENOUGH, we can move on with the framework despite where we live.

What is enough to building an innovative company like Apple? Inventing the best user experience and design products, or mass producing and branding them so consumers continue to desire them and pay a premium for them every 6-8 months?

So back to the vision from my friends, should it be Apple the successful business model to follow? Or should it be another company whose growth is more holistic and sustainable?

In my program, we learned about Eileen Fisher, a very successful garment company in the US whose mission is to change the world, one garment at a time. In their website, there are stories about how they are taking innovative solutions in their supply chain, from sourcing the materials to working with labors in developing countries, to changing the way they produce and sell their products. By doing all of these, Eileen Fisher also attract people who want to work for a company with purposes and values they can share.

A screenshot on Eileen Fisher website, information about what the company is building behind the label

Here is to quote its founder, Eileen Fisher, on sharing her idea about making business a movement. She said the following, and you can read more in the link here.

I like the idea that a company can be successful as a business and also as an agent of positive change. That’s “business as a movement”. For me, it’s a daily effort to keep moving in the right direction.

As we set our mind to achieve something inspirational to us and hopefully beneficial to others, we must take this question more seriously, “If we are to achieve what we set ourselves to do in the beginning, what will be enough for us?” It does not mean to limit ourselves. It means to become aware of what are most important to our success and happiness on the whole. That said, I’d love to talk to my friends again about their vision. Perhaps they can reconsider on what model to adopt so that every day is a step towards the right direction 🙂

At One Life Connection, we work with trainers and consultants from Vietnam and other countries to develop skills training and case studies for individuals and organizations who want to adopt Gross National Happiness model. For further information, please contact: tien.luong@onelifeconnection.com.


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