Buddhist Leadership?

Opens in new windowWhen we want to improve something in our businesses we often look to global best practice examples for ideas.

The more different the approaches we find are from the way we do things already, the more likely it is that we will find them difficult to understand and accept. But the greater the potential for improvement is also likely to be.

So I was interested to read this article on Buddhist approaches to dealing with chaos. Would there be anything for The Churning to learn?

Inner leadership starts out from a foundation of centring and grounding ourselves. Global best practice at centring and grounding surely resides with buddhist monks. So although these are not people I would normally associate with ‘getting things done’ (although do see this piece on the pope and the Dalai Lama) it is worth looking more closely.

The article lays out three possible methods for dealing with chaos and churning:

— The first is called ‘no more struggle’ and involves meditation, looking at the situation with a nonjudgmental attitude, and seeing the situation for what it is without calling it names.

— The second approach is called ‘using poison as medicine’ and involves using difficult situations — poison — “as fuel for waking up”, to create what we want instead.

— The third approach, ‘seeing whatever arises as enlightened wisdom’, is about learning not to split ourselves between our ‘good side’ and our ‘bad side’ but instead to dissolve the sense of dualism we generally live with.

How do these match against the lessons of The Churning?

Chapters 1 and 2 of inner leadership provide tools that help us first to centre and ground, and then to remove any ‘mis-blinks’ we might have made, so that we can see the situation as it truly is. This matches very closely to the first ‘no more struggle’ approach. Chapter 1 includes meditation as just one of the tools used to centre and ground. Chapter 2 includes non-judgment as just one of the methods used to remove mis-blinks and false assumptions. So it looks as if The Churning has a strong, possibly more structured, equivalent to the first approach described in the article.

Chapter 3 of inner leadership suggests turning any ‘crisis’ into an opportunity, by defining three types of opportunity to look for:

  1. Fix the situation
  2. Improve the situation
  3. Resolve the situation

Again, The Churning seems to have the ‘using poison as medicine’ approach more than covered, and appears more directed towards outward outcomes than the Buddhist approach. Perhaps there is something to learn there?

The third approach, ‘seeing whatever arises as enlightened wisdom’, asks us to “regard our world as already sacred.” This language is very different from business language and it is difficult to see an equivalent in The Churning. Perhaps it is similar to sections of Chapter 7 of inner leadership that ask us to focus on the cultural aspects of our vision. If we identify how will issues be dealt with when the vision is achieved then we can implement them almost immediately. That will then help to bring about the tangible aspects of the vision more quickly.

Is there an opportunity to learn from this third approach? You can read the article and decide for yourself.

The language of the Buddhist approach may be very different from the language of business, and this difference may make us feel uncomfortable, but the patterns are very similar.

Comparing our best practice with others’ best practice will always teach us something: either it will confirm for us and define more clearly where our own boundaries lie; or it will bring us an opportunity to expand our competencies.

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