"Prickles and goo" is an idea I picked up from Alan Watts. "Prickles" are people who like to analyze, categorize and find differences and distinctions between things; "goo" are those who find similarities and connections everywhere, seeing all as one. I confess to my gooiness, a conviction that everything in my life is somehow part of one integrated, and meaningful whole. That is why I took exception to a business book I read recently in which the author insisted that a business owner, in order to be truly successful, must strive to become completely separate from the business. Presumably this is indeed desirable if the goal is to clone the business to make unlimited copies, as in the case of the author's prime example, McDonalds. But it is not what I want.
My gooey nature demands a full integration of all parts of my life, including my business. In fact, I could not bear to operate a business separate from all I hold dear, going to work each day leaving part of myself behind while striving to make a living in some unrelated realm. For me, the whole point of having my own business is to create a place where I can continue to practice my spiritual exercises, strengthen my ethics, fulfill my desire to serve others; where I can continue to build relationships with other artists, students and lovers of art; where I can contribute in some small way to local culture; where I can broaden my study of art and beauty; where I can find contentment in close attention to detail and an ongoing quest for excellence. I want to enjoy my short walk to the shop as an extension of my home life, rather than a departure from it.
Just as I want my business to be an integral part of my life, I also want to be an inseparable part of my business. I want to be the shopkeeper that people recognize and return to out of a growing trust, a familiar figure in the neighbourhood, like the previous tenants of this building. Ernie, the barber, retired reluctantly at age 95 after serving customers here for half a century, while the shoemaker next door developed the reputation for reaching out to helping every visitor and passer-by, even rushing across the street to help carry groceries. I would rather be that shopkeeper than a replaceable part in the most successful franchise.