We live in a world today that is fraught with volatility, uncertainty, change and ambiguity. There’s even an acronym for it. VUCA. The pace of change, our 24/7 global economy, rapid tech disruptions and constant restructuring create significant stress in the workplace. According to the Korn Ferry Institute, employee stress has increased nearly 20% in three decades. Human beings are not built for this rapid change. The stress of change puts us in “survival mode” where our ability to adapt and think creatively is compromised.
At the same time as there are major problems to be solved (climate change, the impacts of population growth, income inequality), 70% of workers globally are disengaged based on Gallup data.
Our high stress work environment demands an evolution in human beings. It also calls for new ways to lead. What are the ways in which human beings and leadership need to evolve? I sat down with Jessica Joines, CEO and founder of the Consciousness Economy to discuss these trends.
Henna Inam: What is the “Consciousness Economy”?
Jessica Joines: The Consciousness Economy is a platform, mission and a hope for our future. It started from the belief that we can and must do better when it comes to business. That businesses should do more than simply turn a profit. As an important and active “member” of society, business should serve to raise the consciousness of people and society. Particularly, if humanity is to continue to positively evolve and flourish. What the Consciousness Economy has become is a passion and a commitment to people deepening their path to purpose, which I believe is the key to global prosperity.
For too long, the vast majority of us have woken up each day, working in jobs we don’t like or even hate — living in a state of “survival consciousness.” Each day is about just getting by and our passion and purpose is not aligned to how we make money. I don’t believe this is what’s meant for us. When each person is able to align purpose and passion with how they make money is when I believe we’ll experience true abundance on this planet and heal many of world’s problems. This requires the current business environment and aspects of society to change. So, what the Consciousness Economy has also become is a platform that is dedicated to helping people deepen their personal path to purpose.
Inam: Can you share your own story about how you went from being a Chief Marketing Officer to being an advocate for the “Consciousness Economy”?
Joines: For years and long before I was a CMO of a global brand, I learned to settle for what was offered versus going after what I really wanted. My life was a series of safe, practical choices that were compromises of my true self. I didn’t know how to acknowledge or pursue what I really wanted, because I lacked self-belief and self-love. In my 20’s in my first job, I had daily panic attacks, because I couldn’t believe that the “rat race” I was living in, was what life was. Later, I thought working in toxic environments, with #MeToo moments, not loving what I did for a living, were par for the course.
As my well-being took a series of massive hits, I took time off in 2011 to travel for a year in Southeast Asia. This expanded my spiritual horizons and perspectives about humanity. Ultimately, this trip accelerated my path to purpose. Starting the Consciousness Economy has been a reflection of me honoring myself to step into my life purpose. I threw out a lot of illusions I had come to accept as “truth”, including a mindset anchored in various limiting beliefs. Instead, I found the courage to follow the wild call of my heart. It has even inspired me to begin writing my book to share my journey with purpose in the hopes of inspiring others entitled, Dare to Believe, scheduled for release this year.
Inam: What is the unique role you see women playing in advancing the “Consciousness Economy”?
Joines: With female buying power valued at over $18 trillion, many women are leading the charge when it comes to effecting change within business, encouraging their companies to have a higher sense of purpose. While I believe there is a role for everyone within the Consciousness Economy, I believe women can take the lead in this initiative as part of their own healing process. We are in the midst of trying times where women are facing injustice head on and insisting their voices be heard.
Via much of our collective shared experience, women are innately in touch with the healing that needs to be restored in the workplace (and the world). As more and more women step into their purpose, they step into their authentic power, which I believe is key to bringing the world into balance. As such, women can play a great role in ensuring the companies they represent are aligned with a renewed consciousness.
Inam: We connected via a women’s purpose retreat. Can you share more about the importance of women connecting to purpose?
Joines: As Marianne Williamson said, “The change that will save the world is a personal one.” And, there has never been a more important time for women to heal through focusing on their own their personal growth and purpose. When you are not connected to your unique purpose, it’s hard to impact the kind of change that’s needed. I wanted to harness this in an intimate environment where C-level women could come together to encourage, support and commune based on shared values and a shared vision for the future. It is via small yet powerful communities that we will drive the change the world needs.
Aligning with women such as, Nilima Bhat, author of Shakti Leadership, Jennifer Willey, global gender equality expert and CEO of Wet Cement, and Elaine Dinos, founder of Kindred Lane, who all have a proven record of effecting change within their organizations, empowering women, and encouraging growth and leadership, was critical to the retreat. I wanted participants to be inspired to embrace their unique characteristics, recognize their strengths and passions and translate that new-found energy into both their personal and professional lives.
Inam: What is the role of a leader in the “Consciousness Economy”?
Joines: A leader in the Consciousness Economy has a continuous commitment to their personal transformation and purpose. They have to realize that it’s not just about becoming a better leader or driver of impact, but a commitment to their own spiritual journey. I believe these are all one in the same, not separate endeavors. With that, it’s important to be clear on your values and looking for ways to more tangibly live them and activate them in all aspects of your life. Finally, look for ways to best serve others and in turn the world each day. Honoring and supporting each person’s unique purpose, as much as you do your own — that’s how to show up as a powerful leader in the Consciousness Economy.
Now, back to you, the reader. What one action does this interview inspire in you?
A version of this post first appeared in my Forbes leadership blog.