Paula M. Parker
On a recent “Construction Disruption” podcast, host Todd Miller, president of Isaiah Industries asked: “Paula, what is alchemy in business?”
I’ll use the restaurant industry shutdown during the pandemic as an example.
But first, alchemy — to transform one thing into another — is a branch of Hermetic Philosophy from ancient Egypt. Turning base metal, lead into gold, is the familiar symbolic parable. It’s really transforming the mind from one state to another, known as mental alchemy.
Restaurant owners had to use mental alchemy to transform the shutdown, leading into 100% take-out and delivery, while offering a complete meal to-go, gold.
Call it a pivot or a course correction. In alchemy, it’s transformation for the better and it applies in business. You might have heard the principles before, although maybe not in this way. Let’s look:
1. “You are an alchemist; make gold of that.” — William Shakespeare.
Mental alchemy means transforming individual chemistry for the better. Here’s an application of this concept in a business situation, with a sprinkle of physiology.
Thoughts produce chemicals cortisol, serotonin, dopamine etc. in your system, because the mind/body connection is real, inseparable and immediate. If a restaurant owner looked at the shutdown and thought, “Holy crap, no customers, no money, I’m gonna die,” those thoughts flood the system with cortisol. It causes the fight/flight response, which prepares your body, to either fight the threat or flee from it. It’s not time to re-imagine a creative solution or you could be the tiger’s lunch.
By contrast, if the owner looked at the shutdown and said: “It is what it is. Moving forward, what ways can I turn this situation around and not just survive, but thrive?” To intentionally choose those type of thoughts, instead of the patterned panic-stricken response, transforms the chemistry and opens the mind to possible solutions.
That’s an example of mental alchemy in business. There are countless situations where a business owner can apply alchemy. Taking mental inventory helps. How do you view the situation? Followed by, are the thoughts worsening or transforming a problem?
2. “What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.” — Plutarch.
Consider the metaphysical principle of cause and effect. “With my thoughts I create.” Your habitual thoughts are the cause. Your life is the effect. All things are energy first. Thoughts are energy and energy shapes matter.
As a causative power, words spoken or unspoken contain meaning that shapes perception then reality. There’s something to think about, though. Repeatedly saying one thing, and expecting another outcome doesn’t work. It’d be like a musician playing the notes to “My Way,” expecting to hear “Hey Jude?”
There is good news. Each morning starts a brand spanking new day where you can sing the song you want to live.
Is there more to mental alchemy? Tons. With daily repetition and application, mental alchemy provides you the tools to transform a problem, a business and even disrupt an industry.
Paula M. Parker, of Ashland, is an owner’s adviser preparing businesses to prosper. Contact her at www.paulamparker.net,