The lessons I learnt on an entrepreneur's island

Following a recent trip to Necker Island, Mexican entrepreneur Salvador Abascal Álvarez shared what he learnt from Virgin Founder Richard Branson...

"The most essential thing is to get to know oneself, and you can only get to know yourself if you move all of your conscience from doing towards being."

I always have a to-do list: send emails, hold meetings, return calls, etc. But I have never had a to-be list: From 1pm to 2:30pm I will feel the miracle of life, from 2:30pm onwards I will be inspired, at 8pm I will enjoy being with my family (without doing anything, just being).

I have yet to meet someone who by efficiently executing all his/her “doing” tasks can achieve the plentitude of “being”; this is internal peace, inspiration, self-knowledge and transcendence.

Image credit: Virgin.com

Last week I met a man that by being a great master at "being", can do anything. He can direct over 400 companies, operate in all five continents, plan space trips for the general public and walk around his own island in his bathing suit sharing experiences, asking questions and inspiring entrepreneurs from all over the world.

Richard Branson is a great master at "being"; he is authentically present in body and soul, he looks into your eyes, he is simple and he is having a great time. I was able to spend some time with Richard for three days. I did not see him at any moment carrying a mobile phone or in a hurry to arrive to his next appointment or activity.

What happened first? Did Richard become a billionaire and since then he enjoys life and shares his experience with everyone or did Richard find a way of "being" and being present, in harmony with himself and he then became a billionaire?

Necker Island’s history solves the mystery. Richard bought the island when he was 28 years old; his company was barely six years old and he had very little cash. Richard was searching for a place where he could pamper the rock stars he wanted to sign for Virgin Records, his record company. The price of the island was six million dollars. Richard’s first offer to buy the island was one hundred thousand dollars, which was rejected. Months later, the original owner was going through financial problems and agreed to sell that island to Richard for 175,000 dollars.

Did Richard transform himself from doing to being from the moment he bought the island? I don’t think so; I suppose it was a process. But I also assume that the island has been a fabulous aide for it.

Branson accepts that he fought intense battles due to the cash flow during the first 20 years of his entrepreneurial life. Richard Branson battling with cash flow? That’s right. For 20 years! But nevertheless, he found a method to inspire and motivate his collaborators, partners and customers. Richard and his collaborators agree that the best business ideas have risen in the island.

"Freed from the daily stresses of my working life, I find that I am more likely to have new insights into old problems and other flashes of inspiration," Richard says. 

I have noticed that when I do "overthink" an issue, it is harder to come up with a solid solution.  So a getaway could be the solution.

It is a good idea, too, to encourage your staff to leave work behind to recharge and come back with new energy and enthusiasm!  Here is another thing Richard encourages:  team building. "Lots of the best ideas occur when camaraderie and chemistry have built up between employees, and breaks from the office together – even for just a day – can make all the difference," he says.

Image from Virgin.com

My visit to Necker Island shows evidence that it is vital to make an effort to obtain the best inspiration possible from your work team. It is crucial to achieve camaraderie and a good work environment. Having a space to break the routine and surround oneself with different types of people is elementary. We observe that Richard’s inspiration system touches his own people as well as strangers, which leads me to ask myself: Where is my island? What do I usually do or what must I do to inspire my team more? And above all, what changes do I have to make in my life to stop "doing" and start "being"?

We all have our own inspiration island, that place where we stop doing to start being. For some it is their temple or parish, for others it is their family, others find it in the golf course or in the jogging track. How many do we invite into our own island? How inspired are they and we when we leave it? How often do we visit it? Do I have a beautiful island which I never visit? How can I remodel and improve my own island?

Where is your island? Let us know in the comments below.

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