Neil Crofts' mission is "to change the way business is done on the planet: "Through his network of Authentic ventures he states that his ultimate goal is to "ensure that everyone has the ability to conduct their work life in a way that is sustainable and with a positive and profoundly held purpose."
Q: What's the best thing about living in the South West?
A: I’ve found that you meet a lot of like-minded people if you move to this area. There are a lot of people who have moved to the South West for the same kind of reasons, namely, to escape London and live a more idealistic life. When my wife and I decided to leave London we wanted to go to a place that was a mix of both urban and rural. We short listed Bath, Sydney, San Francisco and Barcelona and ended up here, in Bradford-on-Avon.
What would you like to see more of in this area?
Sunshine! And more energy and investment put into finding alternatives to cars, which I think are an absolute blight.
What’s your biggest achievement?
My two-year-old daughter – she’s gorgeous. Apart from that, I would say it’s the ability to make a positive difference to people’s lives. I’ve been lucky enough and privileged enough to do that a few times through my books and my coaching.
What is Authentic Business and how did it all start?
I’d always felt a tension between who I was and what I was doing - I think a lot of people feel the same. I felt I could do better, bigger things and that actually the jobs I was doing were just holding me back, and if I could somehow tap into my truth, my essence, I’d find where my energy is and be able to make a positive impact on the world through my working life. My background was in business, and one day I was flicking through a business magazine and wondered why they only ever wrote about uninspiring companies, ones that only wanted to make money. I’d noticed that there was a bunch of businesses out there that were doing good things in amongst all of the others - like Triodos and Yeo Valley for example. And I realised that the difference with them was that they generated profit through the pursuit of a profound and positive purpose. So I thought “Why don’t I write a magazine about inspiring businesses?”. I set up a newsletter, a website and a few months later, got my first client. Since then Authentic Business has grown into a number of different businesses, the newsletter (www.authenticbusiness.co.uk), my own consultancy Authentic Transformation and Authentic Guides. Authentic Guides is a community of business service professionals ranging from accountants and lawyers to coaches and healers. We are all dedicated to helping authentic businesses to flourish and helping authenticity to flourish in other businesses.
What would you say to someone who is feeling “inauthentic” and that there’s got to be more to life than this.
Don’t waste any time. Get rid of everything that is distracting you in your life, whether it’s drugs, alcohol, soap operas, gossipy conversations or a job you hate and focus instead on the things that inspire you. Understand where you get your energy from; understand when and where you feel happy and when and where you don’t and what makes the difference. Take notice of all that and take control of your life.
What inspires you?
The fact that we have an opportunity to create a society that is really functional and works for everyone in it. Authenticity is the key. If everyone had the confidence to be themselves and to trust who they are and just be it, we could create that kind of society. It’s do-able, we just need to decide to do it.
What’s been your biggest mistake?
My biggest learning experience you mean! Probably it was staying in a relationship that was not working, for too long.
What drives you mad?
When I see people who are clearly not being honest with themselves. It’s so obvious, you can see them torturing themselves. But until people ask for help there’s very little you can do – you need an invitation, otherwise you’re just interfering.
What’s your favourite book?
There are two. Firstly, Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – to be able to wrap up such deep philosophy and spiritual thinking in a sci-fi comedy is astonishing. Especially as Douglas Adams was under 30 when he wrote it. Secondly, a book called Ishmael, by Daniel Quinn. It looks at our society from a gorilla’s perspective and it showed me how conditioned I had been to see things in one particular way.
What’s been your most memorable holiday?
I went to Thailand a couple of years ago and unfortunately it was memorable in a negative way. I came back quite depressed. My wife actually won the holiday on a TV programme and it was quite luxurious – going on a luxurious, long-haul holiday like that with your eyes open is quite a painful experience. What got to me was the wholescale abuse of the country and the people and the land. I’m not a fan of long-haul anyway – I believe in learning from other cultures but the idea of all these people flying half-way across the world just to go on holiday seems really stupid. I wouldn’t do it again, I prefer more local trips now.
What’s your greatest fear?
That we’re leaving it too late and we won’t wake up in time. I’m talking about the environment of course, but essentially the problem is a spiritual problem. The ‘environment’ will always survive, it’s humanity that might not. The religion of the last 100 years has been about greed and acquisition, what’s going to change all that is people waking up and realising there is actually something rather deeper. Today, we still have a choice, but we don’t know how soon we won’t have a choice.
What gets you into trouble?
Going through red lights on my bike.
What skills do you wish you had?
I can’t think of anything. If I genuinely wanted to learn something I’d learn it. I suppose it’s all part of authentic living. If I kept having a wish I’d think “What am I going to do about it?”, make a plan and do it. You can always say “Oh I don’t have time” or whatever, but that’s just making excuses.
Q How do you relax?
Now, there’s the problem! I don’t do enough relaxing. Cycling is one way I do relax and I love playing with my daughter.
What has life taught you?
To trust yourself. For most people it’s a big challenge to trust their gut instincts because of our conditioning, but once you get past that and learn to chase your own dream instead of someone else’s, you’ll discover what life is really all about.
FfI: www.authenticbusiness.co.uk, www.authenticguides.co.uk
Interview by Fiona McClymont
First published issue 42 (Autumn 2005)
Disclaimer – details were correct at time of going to press, but may now have changed. Please make your own checks.
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