Unleash the Power of Empathy in Life and Business

Here’s an excerpt from the book Compassion Inc. by Gaurav Sinha. This reflects how you can be inspired to transform your business to change the world. 

We live in times in which success is defined by our ability to consume. The more you can spend defines your status in society. We raise children to succeed in life, but what does success really mean? Does it mean happiness? We send them to school, teach them to conform to the curriculum, obey rules and then figure out how to blend in, not stand apart.

We should consider success not as being an ability to consume, but an ability to create. Creating meaningful, positive impact for yourself and those around you. I would rather my child admire the young person tinkering in a garage trying to build something as opposed to looking at the luxury sports car parked in another garage. To admire and reward purpose and action, which makes the world a better place – to me those on this noble path are the true pioneers of prosperity. 

Compassion Inc.

Let’s be honest: people generally consume without thought. Conspicuous, gluttonous, hedonistic aspirations and habits are riddled throughout the way we live. There’s a clear link between crony capitalism and mindless consumption. I questioned this as I observed numerous brands make empty promises and promote experiences that simply fed egotistical needs. It is a contract of corrupt values, and this will drive us into the ground. ‘I cite as an example the ordinary breakfast buffet one sees in any five-star hotel, and ask, why should such a concept even exist? Why does breakfast in a hotel need to be such an indulgent, wasteful affair? The amount of food wasted in such frenzied feasts directly contrasts with those experiencing famines elsewhere, while the ‘connoisseur’ is intent on devouring his eggs benedict.

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Pirouettes and pouts over plates of decadence. I don’t have an issue with luxurious experiences, but I think conscientious consumption needs to blend with corporate narratives with a purpose that goes beyond profits. I am done with the buffet of bankrupt beliefs.

Progressive luxury brands will shape experiences that are ethical, empathetic and elegant. In hospitality, the narrative needs to move from mundane design-led promises to experiences that are rare, original and enchanting, but built on principles of integrity, compassion, sustainability and empowerment.

It’s a common mistake in the luxury hospitality segment to invest in promoting the physicality of an experience and neglect the philosophy underpinning it. This applies to luxury goods, too, where craftsmanship is bandied about as a legacy of provenance; dig deep enough, however, and you will find enough reasons to be alarmed by the hypocrisy. To those who are custodians of luxury experiences, don’t tell me how culturally connected you are; tell me how community-embedded you are and how you empower the local economy. Don’t charge me for Wifi and then ask me to place my towel on a hook so that we can save the world. Don’t waste food or pacify frivolous fantasies without being considerate about the environment. Pay equitable wages, build a village, steer a worthy conversation. Corporate social responsibility is a shoddy veneer, like lipstick on potatoes at the best of times.

From fast food to fast fashion, there’s a pace and momentum to consumption that is not sustainable. In the old days, you had two seasons in the fashion industry, Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter. Today we have fifty-two seasons, one for every week. Can you imagine the impact on the environment? People are oblivious or numb to these things, lining up at stores to claw over fellow shoppers on Black Friday or whatever another marketing gimmick is going to drive this gluttonous way of life.

It’s the same with technology, with new phones and gadgets introduced to make previous ones redundant and to make people want to buy the ‘latest’ of everything, but not necessarily the most ‘conscientious’ of anything. 

Spaces and places. Companies and communities. They should create a sense of belonging that allows people to go about the business of life without thinking of it as work. A sense of belonging that is fertile for growth, is rooted in common values, cultures and beliefs. It is a sense of camaraderie that applauds everyone’s effort and role.

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Companies admonish or admire impulsively. Efficient management is meant to be binary, but we live in a world of grey. Human talent is commoditised; we can replace people quickly or people can replace companies equally rapidly. It’s interesting to note that most CEOs of large listed companies now have an average tenure of three years as opposed to longer stints that once lasted around ten years. Pushed, promoted or pummelled – that’s the heartless working of a board, to hold CEOs accountable for either meeting targets or failing to do so. Where’s the joy in that?

Fortunately – or unfortunately – globalisation has positioned consumers as powerful players in the global economy. The choices we make impact the lives of people living in distant places and it’s critical we make choices that are ethical and do no harm to the environment or fellow human beings.

‘We have an obligation to be empathetic, principled and considerate, even in our pursuit of material gratification. A compassionate mind and sustainable lifestyle are nurtured through knowledge and action that works in synchronicity with good human values.’ 

In Buddhism, they say the greatest journey is the one within. It’s not about going to new places but seeing the same place with new eyes. I think it’s very important to dwell on what happiness means to you and then have the courage to get up and do what’s required to be happy. 

Great stories abound of individuals who begin with nothing and achieve a lot. Equally, there are great stories of people who begin with a lot and end up with nothing. There are stories about those with nothing who end up with nothing. Life’s mired in unfairness and only the resilient survive.

We need to find balance within ourselves before we attempt to add value outside; however, the slow pulse of procrastination is what stops us from achieving this. They say the mind is a willing servant but a reluctant master, and we often struggle to find the energy to chase those rainbows. There are a million reasons for becoming complacent. Society does not help, with its sycophantic charade of boastful posts on social media, crippling self-belief and distorting realities. I, too, have been guilty of this over the years and am in perpetual pursuit of balance.

Happiness is about disconnecting from the static and connecting to the essential. Happy people make other people happy. Happy people also make pro table companies.

You can’t outsource happiness, it comes from within.

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Empathy is the essence of great design; even the most profound thoughts are shaped by an innate understanding of humanity. Design your thinking around compassion to create positive impact.

If want to know how successful businesses can be used as a force for good and wish to change the world around you whilst doing what you love, read the book; Compassion Inc. by Gaurav Sinha.

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