Thematic Integration of Faith, Learning and Business

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 Faith and learning has an inherent and indelible connection to success in business. Most scholars and successful businesspeople would agree that a commitment to lifelong learning is essential to personal and professional success, though the importance of faith isn’t as well documented. This paper will explore the intricate connection that faith has to many successful businesses and entrepreneurs and how it can forge winning practices in business.



Current research demonstrates the pivotal impact it can have to entrepreneurs, who make up a massive part of the economy. “Mitchell J. Neubert and three colleagues at Baylor University investigated the connection between faith and the propensity to start a business, by examining data from a survey that queried 1,714 U.S. adults about their religious habits” (Neubert, 2013). Essentially, entrepreneurs were found to pray more often than non-entrepreneurs and to possess a higher level of faith, believing that God was directly listening and answering their prayers (Neubert, 2013). Such a finding is highly revelatory as it suggests that faith in a higher power is crucial for such a profession. This makes logical sense, as at their core, entrepreneurs are risk-takers. On a mental level, in order to take such risks responsibly one has to believe in a higher power who is helping and guiding one along—otherwise investing so much money in business is just cavalier.



Furthermore, there’s more evidence to suggest that faith is an important component for success in business. Neubert and colleague Steve Bradley engaged in a research project on microfinance endeavors in Africa and Indonesia and discovered that the more importance people placed on their connection with a higher power and hence the way they engaged with others and the world at large, as a consequence of that—something researchers referred to as their “spiritual capital” was something found to reap more tangible rewards (Neubert, 2013). The researchers found that this spiritual capital produced higher incidences of innovation and creativity, higher profitability, more members of staff, even when they controlled for things that could influence the data like inherent talents, skills and networks (Neubert, 2013). Given the significance of the data, which shows a compelling relationship between faith and business it’s important to pursue how faith, and lifelong learning through a commitment to excellence and self-development can in fact impact business success.



More and more entrepreneurs and business leaders have gone on the record to discuss the impact that faith has had on not just their success, but how they conduct themselves in business—something that has a powerful impact on their success. “The Golden Rule (“treat others how you want to be treated”) was not simply a vague disembodied platitude, but a powerful and authoritative principle of faith that guided them in how to treat employees in times of retrenchment” (Naughton &Specht, 2011). This is a very revealing sentiment, which demonstrates in a practical fashion how faith influences business: by holding professionals to a higher level of conduct and service. Kindness and compassion begets kindness and compassion. Business people who commit themselves to something greater than just the bottom-line and who look to serve others and serve the world, making it a better and easier place, are often those who succeed big. The research supports a connection between religiousness and a high level of business ethics (Wong, 2008). Business ethics are key to not just success in business, but longevity as well. While shady business practices might be profitable in the short-term, even if the short-term is ten years, for example, such behavior is never something that is sustainable.

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As the Bible states, “for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap” (Galatians 6:7, New King James). Such a quote demonstrates how kindness, humility and faith in a higher power can beget more of the same, and how greed, corruption, and evil can create its own demise. A current example of such a phenomenon is shown quite simply with the Weinstein Company: two decades of corruption and enabling the predatory and destructive behavior of Harvey Weinstein towards women essentially meant the company designed its own self-implosion.
 

Top 5–8 questions Synthesizing Main Ideas in Strategic Allocation of Resources



One of the top questions one should ask in order to best synthesize the key concepts in the strategic allocation of financial resources can be found in the centrality of faith in business. As Sandi Krakowski, the owner of several multi-million businesses, explains that when she coaches other entrepreneurs she advises, “No matter who they were, I'd encourage them to just have faith that they would reach the right people if serving became their focus more than selling, if loving their customer became the path to profits rather than obsessing about ROI. The highest ROI in this generation is relationship, so I'd encourage them to dig deep. Then I'd tell them to have faith” (2014). This demonstrates that one of the most important questions would be “How can I serve my customers/clients?” When business leaders force themselves to zero in on such a question and to focus on what really matters, they will then have to better prioritize financial resources. If helping clients and forging a strong relationship with them is the biggest priority, then maybe a business needs to hire more customer service representatives and support team members. In a similar fashion, another really important question to ask would be “how can this business make the world a better place, in our own way?” For some businesses, this is a tougher question to ask, as the business might seem like it caters to human vices, such as alcohol companies. Or the company might manufacture luxury items that very few can afford, such as $30,000 handbags. All companies have the ability to make the world a better place, and have an obligation to navigate financial resources in that direction—be it through worthy donations or setting up scholarships for underprivileged kids.



Another question a business might ask themselves is “how well do I understand the needs of my employees and am I meeting them?” (Lipman, 2015) One is only as strong as one’s weakest link, or one could say, one’s business is only as strong as one’s most disgruntled employee. A company that does not honor their workers and their needs sets themself up for disloyalty, resentment and mediocrity. A company that thinks of worker happiness first and allocates financial resources in that direction is likely to continue to evolve over time. Another question….....

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References

Blackiston, M. (2017, February 7). What Every Company Can Learn from Google's Company Culture. Retrieved from http://www.successagency.com/growth/2017/01/19/google-company-culture/

Brox, J. (2014, January 16). 6 Questions to Ask Yourself When Confronted With Ethical Issues. Retrieved from http://www.refreshleadership.com/index.php/2014/01/6-questions-confronted-ethical-issues/

Krakowski, S. (2014, January 3). Why Faith Belongs in Your Workplace. Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/230590

Leone, R. P., Rao, V. R., Keller, K. L., Luo, A. M., McAlister, L., & Srivastava, R. (2006). Linking brand equity to customer equity. Journal of service research, 9(2), 125-138.

Lipman, V. (2015, October 15). 11 Questions All Managers Should Ask Themselves. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/victorlipman/2015/10/14/11-questions-all-managers-should-ask-themselves/#6dedf3bb612e

Naughton, M., & Specht, D. (2011). Leading wisely in difficult times: Three cases of faith and business. Paulist Press.

Neubert, M. J. (2013, October 1). Entrepreneurs Feel Closer to God Than the Rest of Us Do. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2013/10/entrepreneurs-feel-closer-to-god-than-the-rest-of-us-do
Torry, M. (2017). Managing God's business: Religious and faith-based organizations and their management. Routledge.

Vozza, S. (2017, May 2). Why Employees At Apple And Google Are More Productive. Retrieved from https://www.fastcompany.com/3068771/how-employees-at-apple-and-google-are-more-productive

Wong, H. M. (2008). Religiousness, love of money, and ethical attitudes of Malaysian evangelical Christians in business. Journal of business ethics, 81(1), 169-191.

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