The Power of Ritual in Seven Simple Steps

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As I prepared my first cup of tea this morning, the ritual of it all made me pause.

I prefer Japanese Matcha, the preparation of which was developed ages ago as a transformative ritual incorporating the principles of wabi and sabi. Wabi represents the inner, or spiritual, experiences and sabi the outer, or material side. While you always have the choice to throw a solely sabi-esque Lipton tea bag into hot water and call that tea, it takes both wabi and sabi to make an amazing cup of tea.

And Aren’t We Here To Be Amazing?

988632_474434382646251_1858627360_nThe Japanese embrace ritual; they embrace imperfection, cherishing their unpolished selves and others (gracias Wikipedia), repairing life’s cracks with gold—metaphorically and actually. For them, life is not about tossing things aside for something new because they understand new is not better; it’s just new. And new brings with it no useful lesson.

So What Does That have To Do With Tea?

My tea ritual is based on history, trial, error and acceptance. That, in itself, is a lesson. Don’t think that this always turned out perfectly. Many times I ended up with imperfect, unpolished, chunky, undrinkable green drek. It took practice, but I cared enough to keep going. And I never lost sight of my desired end result: an amazing cup of tea that would fill me with warmth, satisfaction, peace, and moments of contemplation.

Here’s what I do:

  1. I declare my intention to have an amazing cup of tea.
  2. I select the components, using the perfect amounts of a gorgeous green matcha powder and filtered water.
  3. I blend these compatible ingredients into its distinctive froth, using a wonderful wooden whisk, a tool mandatory to my achieving my goal.
  4. I taste. Is this what I want? It is mine to determine.
  5. I enhance the sweetness or temperature and make other adjustments to achieve a mixture that is pleasing, relaxing and sustaining.
  6. I savor what I have created.
  7. I repeat it all that afternoon. The next day. And the day after. And so on. As required.

Why This Matters

This ritual is no different than the unconscious rituals we employ to eat, brush our teeth, drive and so on. We also employ ritual to choose and either sustain or reject friendships and other relationships. We have created ways to be successful in all these endeavors

Life is a ritual. Business is part of life, so therefore, business is a ritual. Yet how many businesses run on whim? How many are of the throw-something-against-the-wall-and-hope-it-sticks variety? How many businesses do not start with the end result in mind (goals and a desire to be amazing) and then create a ritual (strategy) to achieve that result?

Yes, Ritual Is Strategy

It takes strategy to achieve anything. Try and drive across town without it. Find a job. Get your kid into college. Secure the best table in a restaurant. Buy a house. Do the laundry. And so it goes. Like life, rituals develop from trial and error. If we are wise, we learn from our mistakes and emerge stronger, with better strategies.

Without a strategy, your result will be akin to a mediocre-to-bad cup of tea.

Create Your Strategy

Designing a business strategy is no more complicated than making an amazing cup of tea. Keep it simple and soulful, using these same 7 steps.

Strategy

  1. Declare your intention: Why are you in this business? For what purpose? To what end?
  2. Select the vessel: What business are you in? Where? With whom? For whom?
  3. Blend components, using a mix of people, tools, tactics, patience, commitment, passion, compassion and heart. Don’t get caught up in the material side; embrace the inner, because whether you know it or not,  business is a spiritual game.
  4. Sample constantly. Is this the business you want? Are you serving? Are you living your dream? Are you grateful? Accountable? Responsible? Do you understand that people are not perfect, business is not perfect and that imperfection will teach the biggest lessons? If yes to all, then adjust as necessary and keep going. If no to any, go back to Step 1 and start again.
  5. Enhance with whatever it takes to maintain a business that is pleasing and sustainable. Balance wabi with sabi and repair cracks with gold. They’ll be stronger for it.
  6. Savor what you have created.
  7. Repeat. Hourly, daily, constantly, as required.

 

Never Lose Sight Of Your End Result

Never stop the ritual. Improve it. If you get lazy and start taking shortcuts, at worst you could lose your business. At best, you’ll get Lipton when what you said you wanted was amazing. And that is just not worth the effort.