The Value of Darkness and Light in Your Business

In the north of Scotland in wintertime, it is dark by 4pm, and not properly light again until after 8am. Many people find this a challenge, but it is of course compensated for by very long summer evenings, when the sun rises about 3am, and doesn’t really set until about 11pm. I reorganise my schedule during the winter so I can easily get out in the daytime. This applies to businesses too, so how much time do you spend in the daylight and nighttime of your business?

Dark and light are functions of a dual universe where there is an opposite for everything, and where if we didn’t have that, we wouldn’t be able to understand positive and negative, light and dark, happy and sad, love and fear, peace and violence and so on. And although you may also subscribe to the idea that we are all One, or that the world of duality is just an illusion, because we inhabit bodies, humans still have to find a way to have a foot in both camps, so to speak.

In business, these opposites show up as clients vs no clients; bank account in credit or debit; inquiries or lack of inquiries. Without one, the other cannot be so easily appreciated, which is why you often find that very successful business people have had so-called failures along the way. This is quite a challenging thing to take on board, as so often the so-called ‘bad’ result is not wanted. In business, no-one wants no clients, little money, and a lack of inquiries. Indeed, without those there is no business!

But sometimes being in the dark times is just what is needed to be able to emerge into the light. In fact, if you are willing to be in the dark (not knowing where you’re going, feeling wobbly, wondering about what on earth is going on; worrying where the next penny is going to come from) then you are well-placed to find the light – simply because you are very heavily motivated to do so. It’s well-known that in a place of pain, the desire to move is strong, but that if you are just a bit uncomfortable, then you are likely to stay in that place – after all, it’s not that bad.

However, imagine you are in a darkened room, and you want to know what is out there in the darkness; you want to find out where you are. Perhaps you’re a bit frightened because you don’t know what might be lurking in the corners; or afraid that if you shine the light in one place, another area will become darker; or there might even be a bit of you that feels relatively comfortable in the dark – so long as you stay still in one place then you will probably be safe. These are the kinds of thought that are easy to say to yourself when you find yourself in a ‘dark’ place in your business.

It’s then that you need to be willing to switch on the light, and find out what is hiding in the nooks and crannies of your business that you haven’t wanted to look at before, or perhaps haven’t even noticed. This takes the form of things like being brave enough to shine the light on your accounting systems, and open those bank statements that have been sitting gathering dust for months. It takes the form of being willing to look at the patterns that have run in your family regarding your attitudes to money, and how they are being played out in your business; and it can take the form of challenging yourself to step up into a different ball game, by admitting that you want to have a bigger business, and take on all the systems, structures, people, and personal challenges that that means.

A client of mine last year was brave enough to face her finances in all these ways, and discovered that as she sorted out her beliefs and attitudes about money, and this translated into organising papers that hadn’t been touched for years, her client load increased without any effort on her part. This set her on the road to a more sustainable business and allowed her dream of starting a family to become realistic.

So if you are in a dark place with your business, take advantage of it. Let yourself sit consciously in the dark for a short while – and by that I don’t mean wallow in it, or sit half-heartedly in it, complaining about things not going very well, and the state of the economy! I mean take some time to deliberately feel what it feels like to be in the dark. Be willing to be with uncomfortable feelings. Discover if they have a message for you. Then, and only then, switch on the light, and take a look into those corners that you have been afraid to look in before. Notice how that makes you feel. Watch the thoughts you have, without judgement, just curiosity. Pay attention to any intuitions that come to you regarding what actions need to be taken.

Then you can emerge from your darkened room, having flooded it with light, and see exactly where your current actions are taking you; what areas of your business need special attention; and who you need to become to deal with these. Let this be your journey for 2011!