How to bridge the gap between corporate and spiritual in business

I wasn’t always successful in business. I’ve worked very hard to get to this place. I have been bullied, stalked, depressed and penniless. Drugged and sexually assault at 14, I left home when I was just 16 to move in with my boyfriend working part-time at Big W to pay the bills.

What is my story?

It was my job as a Legal Trainee post high school, where I earned just $14,000 a year, that was where my love affair with property law and conveyancing began. I loved the job so much that I would commute from Frankston eating sausage rolls from 7/11 on the train.

Yet, despite my love for my work, my home life wasn’t crash-hot. At 23 I found myself pregnant and supporting my unemployed boyfriend who was out on parole. He would regularly steal my ATM card and disappear for days on end, leaving me with no money.

But I persevered; pursuing my passion for property law and conveyancing as a paralegal, paying the bills and navigating my relationship with a physically, emotionally, and mentally abusive partner. While my career steadily progressed, my personal life continued to implode.

My second child was diagnosed with ADHD and Autism, and although I worked from home through my three-month maternity leave with a newborn and an 18-month-old, I returned to work only to be informed I no longer had a job. I could have given up. But I didn’t. I rallied.

I asked for a $1600 loan from my grandmother, got my conveyancing license, bought a printer and started my first conveyancing business from home. I left my partner and accepted temporary office jobs to put food on the table for myself and my two children.

I even returned to bartending from 5am to 3pm each Sunday while building my business during the day. Fortunately, my business grew quickly but more quickly than I could keep up with or manage. All I had was determination, few good friends, and a conveyancing license.

With no business management skills or experience, I thought what I needed to build my business to sustain the growth was more employees – people just like me. As a result, I created an office full of socialites who couldn’t turn up for a full week of work.

I realised I didn’t need more like me’ I needed more support. I needed help from those who had alternative skills to me, people I could trust and who were able to lighten my load, who could use their initiative and take control, leaving me the space to do what I do best – lead.

That’s when I realised that the old, outdated corporate way of working were not going to suit my business. I was not going to ‘grow’ a hierarchy system, a pecking order, a dictatorship. I was going to empower, provide and encourage amazing humans based on their skills and strengths, for them to thrive within our strategically formulated eco-system.

What impact does spirituality have on business?

Spirituality, in my interpretation, is best described as the ‘deepest values and meanings by which people live’. It’s your internal moral compass. Your guiding light. The yin to your yang.

The light to your dark. Most of us have been raised thinking ‘this is just who I am’ and ‘I was born like this’. But we can change the way we are, think, behave and react. We can change the areas of our lives that we’re not satisfied with, simply by changing our belief systems.

How? By removing the patterns, indoctrinations, and habits we have accumulated throughout our entire lives, shifting them towards what you envisage your future to be. It’s a bit like the Matrix. Do you take the blue pill, and live in a world of numbers, black suits, concrete jungles and working 9-5? Or do you take the red pill, and give all your belongings to the salvos, buy a combi van, and live off the land with no footprint? Spoiler alert… the answer is neither.

You take the purple pill. There’s just enough organisation, dedication, focus and direction from the blue pill, complemented by just enough humility, consciousness, awareness and understanding of the universe from the red pill. It’s the perfect combination!

The fundamentals start within. As a business owner, it’s my responsibility to show up and provide leadership to my teams. Yet it dawned on me that if I follow my spiritual life under the covers, it’s not my business any favours. I’m still wearing a mask and living a lie in half of my life – at work. At home, I was a hippie. I had a house full of crystals and incense, but at work, I was a perfectionist. It was a constant juggle, and I’ll be honest, hard work.

But then began the rise of consciousness. I felt like a fraud because I was a fraud. I wasn’t living my purpose. I felt like a failure because I was a failure. I was allowing my morals to be compromised.  I felt like I wasn’t good enough. And I wasn’t. Because I didn’t love myself enough. Painfully, I surrendered. I couldn’t do the juggle anymore. Something had to give.

So, you know what happened? The purple pill. Balance and flow state suddenly came when I stopped trying to be what everyone else needed me to be and started simply being me.

I pulled back the curtains and I allowed everyone to see the real me. And then day by day, everything changed. Yes, it’s hard. But what in life is worth having if it is easy?

Is there more to your potential?

Let me share with you my favourite quote by Dr Espen, ‘What if the top is actually the bottom of your potential?’ I suddenly realised that by limiting myself, I was liming those around me. We are the average of the five people closest to you in business.

So really think about who you have around you. And who you want around you. Jay Shetty says it perfectly, ‘if i am the smartest person in the room, then I am in the wrong room.’

You can’t be who you want to be by consistently being who you were yesterday. So, by showing up, especially as a leader, you are ‘leading by example’. What we can control is how we adapt to the world we live in, while keeping our wits about us. We need to spark the minds of those we encounter, ask lasting questions, hold space for others and be present.

Most of the basic spiritual practices relate back to stillness, gratitude, mindfulness, and the mind. If we can introduce stillness, encourage gratitude, generate mindfulness, and support the growth of the mind, we are doing a lot more, not only for our staff, but for the world.

How can indoctrinate spirituality into your business?

What can you do practically to combine spirituality and business? It’s things like:

  • Introducing one on ones with team members. These are not check in calls to see how work is. These are calls to check on them. Personally. Ask about their weekend, family. And ask whether they need anything from you. By asking them what you can do for them, you are empowering your staff to feel safe to ask for what they need.
  • Block out your calendar. This helps you be mindful of your time, but also helps you stay on track. Block everything from picking up the kids, and meetings. Block your calendar when you have phone calls. And make sure your team are doing the same thing. Not only will it help with productivity, but it also provides guilt-free time to focus on each individual task.
  • Create email rules to direct certain emails to certain folders. Then allocate specific times to check these folders. And with self-worth comes great power and success.
  • Be present. Don’t send emails when you’re on a phone call – we’ve all done it. Don’t try to multitask. Focus on one task at a time, get it done and then move onto the next.
  • Set clear boundaries with staff and ensure your expectations are set. You cannot be best friends with everyone. Make sure your staff understand that and that they understand exactly what is expected of them before they agree to do certain tasks.
  • Work smarter, not harder. If you’re working 24/7, you’re being inefficient. Ask for help or delegate, as there are better ways to do things and we don’t know what we don’t know. I used to define my success by how much I worked. If I wasn’t working harder than everyone else, then I was failing. It was exhausting and it almost broke me, many times.

Now I define my success by my impact. If it is working two hours or ten hours, my imprint on others means more to me than bags under my eyes.

  • Introduce ‘just a minute’ for your senior leadership team. Block a time in their calendars where they can answer questions from colleagues. This shows that their time is valuable, and they can’t be called on any and every moment. This also encourages everyone to learn to prioritise their questions and to also believe in themselves. Sometimes staff may fear making mistakes, so instead of trying to be doing the research, they ask a superior.

They may not be able to wait until the allocated ‘just a minute’, meaning they do their own research, follow their judgment, and realise they know the answer. It’s a win/win.

  • Shift your perspective. There is no I in TEAM. The world doesn’t revolve around you so get your head out of the sand and take ownership for the wins and the losses. Accept the fact that we all make mistakes, we all make bad choices, we all mess up. But own it. Learn from it. Be a better you because of it, simply because you won’t do the same thing twice.
  • Turn up. It’s a simple as that. Turn up, every time and leave your ego at the door. Empower your colleagues to be better and remember, their wins are your wins. There’s no competition. It’s all about cohesion, commitment, compassion, and collaboration.

Start today. The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second-best time is now.

Kiani Mills is the Founder of Imperiale Conveyancing and Co-founder of Edwards & Mills, an industry-leading buyers advocacy business she co-founded with MAFS alumni Jake Edwards in 2021. Kiani is a serial entrepreneur, single mother and speaker.