I am a cleaner
  • This latest post from Tolu Ilesanmi is a stunner. It’s actually an email he sent us when we asked him to give us an update on his social enterprise Zenith Cleaners. We got more than we bargained for. We have always admired Zenith’s devotion to inscaping – to exploring the inner experiences of its members and clients. Tolu’s reflections beautifully illustrate that inscaping doesn’t just connect people; it expands purpose. The Zenith vision is becoming grander. It is becoming wilder. Its increasing fractal force is leading to some startling programmatic shifts. 

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    Photo by Grace Ding at www.studiophotogenic.com

    Zenith Cleaners continues to evolve. Very exciting times. We are taking further the concept of Cleaning as Practice and building our future on it. In the process, we came up with this definition of cleaning, which is in itself cleansing –

    Cleaning is the process of removing dirt from any space, surface, object or subject thereby exposing beauty, potential, truth and sacredness.

    In a way, we are cleaning our understanding of cleaning and what cleaning as practice means. It continues to be about leadership development, organizational transformation, paradigm shifts, social destigmatization, culture transformation, crossing boundaries, etc. Cleaning is beautiful. I have gone from “I am just a cleaner” to “No I am not just a cleaner, I only clean” to “Wow, I am a CLEANER.” I go to places now and introduce myself as a cleaner. Who wouldn’t want to be a cleaner given the above definition? Are we not all trying to clean something in the world?

    For the first time, I am seeing even the connection between my work as a cleaner and my desire to clean the Nigerian society. This definition brings hope and it suggests that underneath the corruption, underneath the dirt is beauty.  Our work is merely  to uncover it.

    In practice, we are expanding what we offer our clients- offering our clients all of what we are, removing the dirt of fear, hesitation and tentativeness surrounding being a cleaner that cleans your windows and also the cleaner who shows you how to clean the window through which you see the world. I remember my blog post on cleaning as practice on Organization Unbound – that was the beginning of the declaration of my/our manifesto.

    We are still cleaning our mission and our vision. But now, we are in the final stages of introducing cleaning as practice in a private school in Montreal as a prelude to introducing it in schools across North America. So when we clean a school, we are not just cleaning the hallways and the bathrooms but if they permit us, there is a possibility of cleaning their system of education. When we clean a church, our intention is to introduce cleaning as a spiritual practice. When we clean for a real estate developer, we can work with them to use real estate developments to clean an environment and a culture – one of the solutions I firmly believe can work in a place like Nigeria. When we clean for an organization, we can work with them to refine their culture.

    I remember the conversation I had with you and Rennie last year about getting chief executives to clean in their own spaces. We are very close to putting into practice executives and staff being involved in cleaning physical spaces, surfaces and objects as a practice for cleaning subjects within the organization. We are starting with organizations who easily get it and it is part of our cleaning package. This is what Zenith Cleaners has been trying to birth and it is very exciting to say the least.

    I am an artist but I am glad to be an entrepreneur because entrepreneurs translate reality from the invisible into the visible where it is needed. But perhaps I am not a social entrepreneur but a spiritual entrepreneur, which is what I think the world needs now in order to clean the dirts we are confronted with and I think this ties in with the Veena Vasista’s recent post on Einstein’s call to raise our consciousness in order to address the issues of our time. This is what has been happening.


    October 16th, 2013 | Tolu Ilesanmi | 20 Comments

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