Marc Le Menestrel
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Immersed in Balinese Spirits: INSEAD Social Entrepreneurship Conference 2012

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by Marc Le Menestrel (26/05/2012)

For the 2012 ISEP conference, Hans Wahl and Felipe Santos, from the Social Entrepreneurship Center at INSEAD, had the wonderful idea to locate the events in Indonesia.

We met social entrepreneurs in conferences and workshops, discovering a new generation of women and men who are setting up companies and organizations at the service of others, of Nature or towards some special cause. They are envisioning money as a means and not as an end and dream to re-invent business. I was invited to talk about values, ethics and transparency, bringing my expertise of the "dark side" of business to these already enlightened entrepreneurs. I structured my brief talk around three key messages, each one around the words proposed to me:

Values: "There is an infinite diversity of values. Each one has some specific value which is not fully measured by money taken as a common value".

Ethics: "We are not as ethical as we like to think, and even if we are a social entrepreneur aiming at some noble cause, we should spend some effort to have a critical look at our unethical side".

Transparency: "Transparency is a wonderful criterion between theory and practice to assess ethicality. Beyond being transparent about our ethics, being transparent about one’s vulnerabilities allows us to create trust and receive help".

In Bali, I had a special dreaming workshop for ISEP alumni, where I invited the 16 participants to board a boat by bringing their chairs inside the U formed by our tables. We made 8 rows of two, side by side, towards east. I spotted a wooden dustbin and took it as a drum. I began to give rhythm to our journey.

Towards the Island of your Dreams with the Balinese Spirits

We left the island and paddled hard to cross the waves to pass the reef. We called for fishes, dolphins and seagulls to show us the way towards the island of our dreams. We experienced the void of an entirely flat horizon. We found our island unexpectedly, once we were sure to be lost, and nearly capped just before reaching the shore.

From this low place, I invited them to leave everything they knew behind and, with empty hands, start exploring their dreams. I was to stay by the boat, playing the drum to maintain the connection with their intention. They could meet the people of their dreams, if any, and observe whatever they could sense. They were watching their spirits busy at work, or not, witnessing animals or other forms of wildlife. They were looking for a treasure to bring back as a help to face the challenges they identified in a previous session. Some were exploring a forest or a mountain, others a town or a village, while some were just partying with friends and having their good time. Most of their discoveries remain mysteries to me, as I was alone with my boat. An old man did come to me and, placing his hands on my feet, he told me to nurture humility as a treasure.

Many came back to the boat at my call their smile so big it would rip their face apart. Others looked neutral or absorbed. It was anyway time to board and paddle hard to quit the island. It is indeed back on the boat that some received their appropriate message. One was told there was no other treasure than life and nothing to look for except existence. Others were cherishing their piece of nature, an animal, a thought or a feeling, on their way back home.

While opening our eyes in the room, we slowly moved towards a big board where we could share some of the words we had received from our very important persons. One realized he was the important person to be cared of. Another told us about the ugly island she discovered, to finally go around her nightmares and discover her dreams hidden behind. Many humbly shared the beauty of their dreams, the overwhelming energy they have inside and this uncontrollable connection with the source of our love. For a few, it was also an opportunity to have the courage to be gentle to themselves, and to realize that it may be time to do what we have always known to be good to us. I personally liked when an Indonesian brought back the forgiveness of her mother, by thus forgiving us all, in acceptation of all the vulnerabilities that make our richness.

I believe we were all ready to make our dreams come true in this world, wherever it lies.

About spirituality and social entrepreneurship, read the article "The Next Revolution is Spiritual" from Ben Bowler, one of the participants, in the Huffington Post.