Surprising business insights from a monastery
Surprisingly, we can learn quite a lot about how to succeed in business by following the practices of Trappist Monks, according to August Turak in his book Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks: One CEO’s Quest for Meaning and Authenticity. The monastic calling is a calling to pray and work, and for 1,500 years the monks have prospered in the “work” part of their calling by preserving and employing highly successful business methodologies.
The book goes on to describe a range of agricultural work undertaken by the Trappist monks at Mepkin Abbey, and the commercial success which the monks achieve in selling their produce to local retailers. Their success, according to the author, arises not despite the fact that they seek “piety not profit”, but because of it. Key elements of the monastic way of life and business include:
- Mission: Trappist monks have an overarching mission worthy of being piously served. They don’t just have a mission; they live their mission every single day.
- Personal Transformation: The monastic way of life is designed to transform ordinary people into authentic individuals.
- Community: The constant mutual reinforcement and beneficial peer pressure of community keep the mission in focus.
The author makes some interesting observations about what employees and customers are really looking for. He argues that in order to duplicate the monastic business success in our secular organizations, we must offer our employees, stakeholders, and even customers the opportunity for the same transformation of being that every heroic figure must attain. People want opportunities to experience intense engagement so they can become their authentic selves.
It seems to me that plenty of people manage to earn a lot of money without being authentic, or having high ethical standards, or being selfless, or having a noble mission, or seeking excellence. On the other hand if you want to be successful not just financially but also in life, then the authentic path to success seems the best one to choose, and this book is filled with really interesting stories and advice on how to follow it.