Co-creating a Conscious Business taps into a primal desire for freedom
You never really know someone until you go into business with them. There’s something about having money on the line that makes things get real, quick. If there are unspoken, conflicting desires or intentions, they will bubble to the surface quickly. But even beyond that, going into business with a partner (romantic or otherwise) inevitably leads to a clash of values, ideals, and vision at one point or another, testing friendships, relationships, and even the business itself if things get too intense. I should know. I have gone into business with friends only to have both the business and friendship explode in fiery, impassioned theatrics shortly thereafter. Turns out we weren’t as like-minded as we thought. And as you might imagine, this can be especially precarious when doing so with a loved one or someone you are in a relationship with, so why jeopardize it over business?
For me, there was no other choice. When Meghan and I, romantically involved for nearly six years at the time, decided to launch Conscious Lifestyle magazine in early 2013, we came together under a shared vision of something great-something we believed would change the world. And for me, vision is everything. I am fiercely independent (although that’s softening a bit as I grow older and wiser), so to work closely with me, someone must share my vision. And Meghan did-and not in a patronizing, rah-rah cheerleader way as so often can be the case in a relationship, but in a mature, inspired way that could actually work not just in theory but in the muddy trenches of a self-funded startup project of passion. Anybody not totally committed-not fueled by a deep-seated desire to do something great and bigger than themselves-would get chewed up and spit out quickly-myself included-if they didn’t truly believe in the cause. Heart, soul, stamina, unavoidable growth, forays far outside our comfort zones, and a fair amount of risk and investment of personal funds would be required for this venture. Not for the faint-hearted.
To be honest, we jumped in and invested in the spur of the moment, riding a wave of excitement, passion, and desire, not really knowing what we were getting ourselves into.
As always with a new business, it’s at least two to four times more work than anticipated, and everything looks very different now from what we had initially envisioned. There have been fights and emotional outbursts, disagreements, and divergence of vision, along with the feeling of not being heard, inherent in the ever-shifting dynamics of any relationship. But these things, so challenging and frustrating in the moment, can be our greatest teachers (in hindsight mostly, because in the moment things can get a bit, shall we say, visceral…). Although we have our moments, we are wise enough to understand that it is less about the specifics of who is right or wrong, but rather more about what we ultimately learn from the experience-what wisdom and growth ultimately bloom from the seeds of conflict.
Reading the above you might assume that it is indeed a rocky road going into business with a loved one, but in all honesty, the above scenarios make up less than 10 percent of our interactions. The vast majority of what we do is inspired, purpose-driven, and in total alignment…otherwise it could never work. In every sense we share a vision and that’s why it works, or at least that’s how it seems on the surface.
But what is a vision, really? First it is perhaps an image or a thought or an idea. But when developed and nurtured, it eventually becomes a desire to create something that does not yet exist in the world. And for us, Conscious Lifestyle magazine serves as an outlet for one of our highest desires-to have a positive impact in the world and to give people powerful, practical tools for rapidly transforming their lives. And in its most crystallized form, it stems from a desire to give people the tools to heal themselves, to expand and grow, because in order to change the world, we must first embody that change – as within, so without.
And it is that desire, I realize as I sit here writing this, that gives us the wherewithal, inspiration, and drive to transcend whatever challenges and quarrels might come up for us as we navigate the often often-shifting path of co-creating a business and a relationship simultaneously.
Because after all, desire is a primal energy – at least as I experience it.
It is fuel for the actualization of our dreams into physical reality. When fully expressed there is little that can get it in its way and not be transformed or transcended. And, and that includes our relationship.
On the surface, our magazine may seem like a way to have an impact and make a living doing something we love, but a a deeper look reveals that it is much more than that. As I reflect on what is really motivating us, I can’t escape the realization that it all comes back to desire. As entrepreneurs (and humans), we desire freedom. We desire meaning. We desire self-expression. We desire abundance. We desire connection. We desire community. The magazine gives us all of this in spades. And when viewed through that lens, it suddenly doesn’t seem like the naive, risky decision I’d initially made it out to be. It seems more like our intuition recognizing very clearly that this would be a way to more fully meet our desires. And when you dig a little deeper, what are desires but the cries of the soul for what we truly need to thrive? Through that lens, it suddenly seems like the best decision in the world, which is a gentle reminder that perhaps our desires are far wiser than we often realize.
[Editor’s note: As we were launching Best Self, I discovered Conscious Lifestyle. Noting its superb content and design in a similar space as our magazine, I set out to meet Justin, clear across the country, to learn what makes him tick. East meets West in the spirit of comrades, not competitors. ~Bill Miles]