Saturday, July 28, 2012

That Entrepreneur/Mystic Thing

"Search" headquarters

"People love that entrepreneur/mystic thing." - Blaise Pabon, Enterprise Sales Manager, Google


Yesterday I began my morning with a visit to Google headquarters.  What a sprawling, fun set of campuses they have!  I walked through a sculpture and organic vegetable/flower gardens; the swimming pool overlooked the volleyball court and the Google colored bicycles were available to anyone who needed a ride - no keys or locks needed.  I remembered the old days of Mountain View when I used to play golf on a course that smelled bad because it was built on the top of a former garbage dump and when the Shoreline Amphitheater was one of the two best places in the Bay Area to see an outdoor concert.  I hardly recognize the place anymore.

Google was incorporated in a garage in Menlo Park in September 1998 and went public in August 2004.  It's hard to remember when we weren't able to google something on the computer.  It's not as hard to believe that I have socks and underwear, ties and shirts older than Google.  Of course, much to the embarrassment of my wife.

I wanted to visit Google mainly because of this wonderful article that was in the New York Times a few months ago that included one of my favorite quotes of all time by Blaise Pabon.  Perhaps the most succinct definition of a calltrepreneur, or at least one of my main goals as a calltrepreneur, is to have that entrepreneur/mystic thing.  The article tells the story of one of Google's most popular classes, SIY - Search Inside Yourself, which was created by an engineer named Chade Meng-Tan.  The course is designed to provide a way for Google employees to integrate their spiritual lives and the crushing demands of working in Silicon Valley.

I loved this article and two things especially stood out for me.  (What about you?)  The first was the exercise where people are asked to write non-stop for seven minutes about what their life will be like in five years.  What a wonderful way to tap into our inner wisdom and open up new possibilities for how to live our life today and tomorrow.  The second insight was SBNRR - Stop, Breath, Notice, Reflect, Respond.  Called by another name it might be called meditation, prayer or namaste.  

Meng-Tan encourages people to do "mindful emailing".  What would that look like?  I imagine putting my laughing Buddha sculpture next to my computer so I'm reminded every time I send an email to SBNRR.  Especially for those emails that have a critique or opinion that makes my blood pressure rise.

When people ask me what is this Assisi/Silicon Valley thing I am working on I like to tell them about this article and about the spiritual practices and values that are a part of many businesses and religious communities and even more so the people who work in those businesses and worship in those religious communities.  St. Francis and St. Clare had that entrepreneur/mystic thing going on; so did Steve Jobs, so does Chade Meng-Tan and, I guess, so do you.  Perhaps with a little more SBNRR we can each own it a little more. Because people love it and more importantly the world needs it.


The bicycles of Google - no locks to be found!
Whimsy amidst workaholism.



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