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Important Business Lessons to Adopt From the Benedictine Order

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Important Business Lessons to Adopt From the Benedictine Order

Important business lessons can be found in the most unlikely places. I’ve recently been to Europe and visited two Benedictine Monasteries. 

The drawcard for both, in the first instance, was the opportunity to visit their libraries, but we found so much more. 

Lesson #1. 

The libraries were the second most important places in the monasteries after the church itself. In the Melk Monastery in Austria, the oldest book is 1200 years old and is on mathematics and astronomy. 

You see the monks didn’t just study the religious texts; they studied a wide range of topics. 

Many researched and wrote books on subjects completely unrelated to their religious beliefs.

From a business perspective, it is important to not only read books and become an expert in your area of expertise but also to read more widely. 

For me, this first of three important business lessons is a no-brainer. I guess the weekly trips to the library with my librarian mother instilled in me a love of books. Over the years, I’ve created my own library of business books, travel books, history books and other areas that interest me.

Lesson #2.

The motto of the Benedictines is peace, pray and work. Work was a fundamental part of their daily life. They studied and they taught. 

From a business perspective, it’s important to keep learning. One of the best ways to learn is to teach someone else. Training new team members and showing them how to do their jobs is as important for the trainer as it is for the new team member. It is in the training that you gain an understanding of what you know and what you don’t know.

Find ways in business to learn and teach and make that a regular part of your daily business routine.

Lesson #3.

What was also interesting was the focus put on listening. Not only listening to others and listening to prayer but also the emphasis of listening to what we would call intuition. 

In business, whilst I’m the first to say, look at the numbers and find the story they are telling you about your business, I’ll also say that it is as important to trust your gut instincts and intuition. It doesn’t matter which you choose first, check in with the other and if they’re both saying the same thing, you’ve got your decision made for you.

When poor decisions are made in business, it is often due to the decision being made purely on intuition without the facts to support it. Or it is based on the numbers whilst ignoring your gut instinct that tells you something different.

Interesting Fact.

In the world renowned-library at Waldsessen in Germany, there are wood carvings of figures. What is fascinating about these is that each one depicts the bad characteristics of people. The carvings depicted rebellion, anger, laziness, stupidity, arrogance, vanity, boastfulness, ignorance, pride, meanness and hypocrisy. One showed a very talented man but he didn’t use his talents in his life.

In business, don’t be the person who is a bad character, and don’t waste your talents in life either.

I found these three important business lessons whilst walking around two monasteries. 

  1. Be a perpetual student, read books about a wide range of topics. 
  2. Teach what you learn to others as a way of cementing that learning in your mind. 
  3. Be of good character and use your talents wisely and to their full. 

Most of all listen. Listen to your customers or clients, listen to your team, listen to your suppliers, listen to your business colleagues and listen to your intuition too.

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