What does your sensuality have to do with your business? Surprisingly, everything!
When I say sensuality, I'm not talking about being sexy (though there's nothing wrong with that in our personal lives at the right place and the right time). I'm talking about how essential it is to have our full sensual aliveness available to us if we're going to succeed in business on our own - especially in tough times.
Think about someone you know who is successful, who seems to draw customers or clients to them like a magnet. Chances are you and others feel really comfortable around this person - they feel natural and easy to be with. It's easy to make a connection with them. They seem to have an abundance of energy. What's the magic they've got? What makes them different?
I'm sure the recipe for that magic varies considerably from one person to the next based on their individual personality traits, but I'm betting for most people who have this natural charisma a major ingredient of their magic is a sensual aliveness. People who have their senses awake and attuned to the world around them typically:
- are at home in their bodies and comfortable being who they are
- are present - present with you, with themselves, with the world
- experience more beauty and joy and pleasure than the average person on any given day
- have more enthusiasm for their work and for play
- are less likely to think there's a big difference between work and play
- tend to be more skilled at manifesting the vision they have for their business
That last point is particularly important. Dr. Jean Houston, scholar, philosopher and researcher in human capacities, and one of the principal founders of the Human Potential Movement, has worked intensively in 40 cultures and 100 countries helping community leaders to enhance and deepen their ability to create new responses to local and global challenges. (http://www.jeanhouston.org/index.html) Her research has consistently demonstrated that people are able to be far more effective using approaches that involve all the senses. If you can hear, see, taste, touch, smell what you are trying to create, you will be far more likely to manifest a living breathing reality rather than simply an idea or concept.
Stop for a moment and remember a time you felt very alive, engaged and were fully enjoying yourself. Were you alone? With other people? Were you out in nature? Do you remember how you felt physically? emotionally? Chances are you weren't at the computer (unless you were using it to create something magnificent) and you weren't locked up in your head. How do you think it might change the way you experience your life and your work if you felt that way more of the time?
It's not that difficult to bring more sensual aliveness into your ordinary daily life, and the benefits can be wonderful. Here are three ideas for coming back to our senses:
- Literally stop to smell the roses... and the lilacs, and the tulips, and the iris (surprise! yes many tulips and iris do have wonderful fragrances). Make a habit of stopping to smell, to touch, to look at something beautiful like a sunset or dew drops, to listen to bird calls. And, when you're eating, stop to truly taste and savor - it's a great way to eat less and enjoy it a lot more.
- Be where you are. If you're walking for exercise, walk for aliveness as well. Shut off the cell phone and take in the world. When you're with someone, take a moment to really feel what it's like being with this person. Feel the energy around them - can you feel a palpable connection? This may sound airy fairy, but actually people who take the time to make a "felt connection" with other people are more likely to close the sale because they can much more accurately gauge the other person's feelings and receptivity. Many very successful people give the impression of being totally present, really with you when they're with you. If it's real, it works! And it feels so much more satisfying to be present in your own life while it's happening
- Use your sensual awareness to manifest your business goals. Do you have a result you want to create in your business? It could be more clients, a new office, a higher level of sales, getting a new product off the ground. Begin by first waking up your senses through memory and imagination: see a brilliant sunrise, taste snow, touch the fur of a pet you had as a child, hear someone you love singing, smell a walk through the rose garden.
Now with your senses fully awake, allow yourself to imagine the full sensual experience of realizing your business goal. Use free association and don't be surprised if your vision of a new office tastes and smells like a wonderful home cooked meal. Maybe with your goal of new clients, you hear the phone ringing off the hook and a chorus of voices saying they want to book time with you. You might feel a new solidity, a sense of new ground coming up to meet you, and you may see your calendar filled in with appointments. Your images might be ordinary and/or "far out" - it doesn't matter. What's important is that you're using all your senses to help make your goal real.
Once you've got all the senses involved in perceiving the realization of your goal, put on some music and get up and dance. Celebrate! Once you've made it real in the body, it's also real in the world. I've done this exercise and experienced people immediately calling up to book appointments or sign up for workshops. It seems it makes what I'm offering more real and embodied for them as well. (This exercise is adapted with permission from Dr. Houston's work.)
Sensual awareness is important for everyone, and I'd like to close by saying that this can often be especially significant for women in business. So often women, in an effort to be taken seriously and to be seen as professional (and also to avoid the age old accusation that women take advantage of sex appeal to get ahead), have tended to pull back from their femininity and sensuality. Add to this having to meet the multiple responsibilities of work and family, and many women begin to lose their life force as a result of this hyper focus and overprotection. Tragically women often don't know how to use their sensual energy for themselves. We think our own sensuality is only for a romantic partner and don't realize we can hold our own internal connection to our senses in a way that feeds us, nurtures us, makes us more alive, present, connected, charismatic.
For all of us, if we want to stay vital, energetic, alive, and able to take on the challenges of business and of life in general, we have to keep our senses awake and engaged. Think about why you went into business for yourself. Chances are for many of us it was because we had some talent or skill or creative ability that we enjoyed and wanted to offer to the world. The whole idea was to be fully involved in doing something we loved. How sad to lose that joy in what we're doing when we get bogged down in the other parts of running a business that aren't as much fun. One way to keep the joy is to keep using all your senses in all you do.