Posts Tagged ‘working’

Can a business create profitability based on kindness? Sure, why not?

The Dali Lama says if nothing else practice kindness. This must be a very powerful practice, so just what does it entail?

I googled the word kindness and here are a few words that showed up as synonyms: Accommodation, benevolence, compassion, courtesy, forgivingness, friendliness, generosity, gentleness, goodness, goodwill, grace, graciousness, helpfulness, humanity, perceptiveness, sensibility, sensitivity, service, tolerance, understanding and warmth. Who wouldn’t want to be part of an organization that practiced kindness? As I read each one of these words I could feel a heartfulness present: a quality of being mindful of the wholeness of the organization and all of its members. Each organization has a heart, just as each individual has heart. We forget this fact. We forget our own heart too. An act of kindness reminds us to be mindful of the essential nature of life that beats within us all.

In my google search, the words that came up as antonyms for kindness were: complaisance, compliance, deference, obligingness. These words reflected a different quality – not one that generates heartfulness. To me they reflect a stand for doing the minimum of what’s required by the organization. They reflect an attitude of resistance to participate or engage. “I’m not committed enough to shift my stand or position. I don’t want to and you can’t make me.” What is underlying this stand for complaisance and compliance?

Every one of us in a business environment are there for personal gain first and foremost. Only as a secondary intention are we there to fulfill the vision and mission of the organization itself.  If it were any other way we would set aside our judgments and interpretations, our fears and needs, our resistance and other survival strategies for the best interest of everyone associated with this organization. We would act in alignment with the highest good and the highest truth of ourselves, which is always in the alignment with the highest good of everyone and, believe it or not, every organization. The fact is that we just aren’t that committed.

Though we say we are committed to serving our organization, generally we aren’t committed enough to shift our personal perspective in order to move beyond compliance and complaisance. What are we committed to?

I suspect many of us have a hit list – those people at work who we wish would disappear, with whom we avoid eye contact and conversation. It may be those about whom we gossip or complain. We may even perform passive-aggressive or passive-resistant maneuvers in order to sabotage their success or fulfillment. I’m always curious about what we gain from other people’s demise.

Taking on a practice of kindness, just as a practice, will reveal underlying motives. Bubbles of emotions begin to surface that often feel uncomfortable. It’s not uncommon for anger, frustration and sadness to arise. Attached to each of these emotions is a thought that is harbored in the recesses of your mind; a belief, a judgment or interpretation that is confronted by just the smallest act of kindness. I’m always fascinated by this process, and though it is often uncomfortable I encourage the exploration, discovering what’s interfering with kindness, compassion, generosity, graciousness. What do you have to lose? Funny, isn’t it, that we think we have something to lose by being kind.

Kindness makes good economic sense. Research shows that good business and profitability comes down to creating good relationships. Good relationships require so many of the words that relate to and include kindness. How are you doing kindness or how are you being kindness. Too often doing kindness is a transparent, inauthentic manipulation, and personal gain is its motive.

Authentic kindness – what’s the motive?

My work is grounded in authentic, engaged connection. When I am grounded in this I enjoy being myself and quite often find more to enjoy in the other. I suspend judgment about who they are, their status, what I can gain from the relationship and remain in the moment authentically engaged and connected.

Kindness, like compassion, is sometimes really challenging to practice, however when doing so we can make a huge difference in our own capacity to be relaxed, open, free of stress and pressures. It contributes to our level of happiness and enjoyment. There is nothing to lose and everything to gain by just being kind. It’s funny how it works that way.

Have you ever invested years of your life pursuing a goal that turned out to be a trap? You work very hard to get a degree, only to find on graduation that you are overqualified, or unemployable. You sacrifice in order to achieve career success, only to find that what you really sacrificed was your health. You invest money to start a new business, only to go deeper in debt.

Chances are that you know people for whom the pursuit of a goal was not all that it promised.

There are so many quotes by wise and accomplished people that speak in favor of having goals, that it seems sacrilegious to say anything against the idea. Yet through experience we find that goals are not always golden at the end of the rainbow.

Goal-Free Living is a highly acclaimed bestseller by Stephen Shapiro, an international business consultant with an impressive list of clients and testimonials. Shapiro says that excessive focus on achievement leaves us ever hopeful for a future that never comes, and  he demonstrates through the lives of real people that you can have an extraordinary life without traditional goals, schedules, and plans. Featured in Newsweek, The New York Times, Entrepreneur Magazine, and on the cover of O-The Oprah Magazine, he has clearly tapped into a mother lode of sentiment regarding the limitations of a goal-oriented life.

Goal-oriented living may be a by-product of Western culture’s thinking about progress. It has brought us much good, and much damage at the same time. Single minded-pursuit of goals has upset the balance of life, interrelationships, and our environment.

There are three common patterns in goal-oriented thinking which are self-defeating in the end-result.

Distracted Pursuit

Chasing after whatever appears on your screen, whatever looks best at the time. Like a kid in a candy store, you grab whatever is in reach, and try to fill your pockets. But in the end you have nothing to show, and no real sense of satisfaction. Succumbing to suggestions that lead you anywhere and nowhere, you don’t stay with anything long enough to create lasting value. You end up empty-handed as a result of losing the big picture.

The mark for distracted pursuit is the memo pad.

Single-Minded Focus

Going for the goal no matter what or who gets in your way. Like a bull bent on destruction, by sheer force of determination you actually reach your goal, only to realize that other people have abandoned you, as you have abandoned them. You end up alone, as a result of single-minded pursuit, without considering the consequences.

The mark for single-minded focus is the checklist.

Stepladder Thinking

Pursuing the traditional path of education, leading to a career, followed by retirement. Like a cabin dweller chopping wood for the long winter, you patiently pursue the tasks set out before you, putting off immediate gratification for the sake of a secure future, only to find that your best laid plans don’t turn out as expected. You walk through life with blinders, as a result missing out on the broader view.

The mark for stepladder thinking is the calendar.

There is another approach which enables you to follow your instincts, get things done, and get results over time, without falling into the traps of common goal-oriented thinking.

Flexible Focus

Being able to see the big picture, focus on the details, and catch all of the connections, with a free and flexible mind that can achieve goals without being goal-oriented. In Asian philosophy this is known as working without being attached to results. It is a fundamental mindset that has spiritual roots, but delivers material results. It is wise, because it recognizes that things are not as fixed as they appear, and that flexible focus frees your mind to discover, to create, and to innovate. The tool of choice for flexible focus is the mandala chart.

Caught in the traps of the first three goal-oriented patterns of thinking, you may be aware of the limitations, but unsure of how to avoid them. You can make efforts to achieve life-work balance, to spend more time with your family, to go to the gym a few times a week, or to eat a more balanced diet. But unless you fundamentally change your thinking about goals, you will simply repeat the same patterns and fall into the same traps, even as you pursue the goal of life-work balance.

The mandala chart can help you achieve flexible focus. It works like a 3 x 3 viewfinder, with 9 frames. Putting yourself in the center, automatically gives you 8 surrounding windows, a field for flexible focus.

On the mandala chart as in life, you are surrounded by issues and goals related to health, business, finances, home, and other important concerns, but none of them dominate because you are at the center. Moreover, the center is not fixed but flexible. The center is wherever you are, and the field is whatever surrounds you. You are not so much goal-free, as free of your goals.

Download a visual reminder of the four approaches to goals. Where are you in relation to your goals? To keep your goals in balance, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I taking consistent focused action to move closer what is important to me?
  • Do I regularly consider the impact of my actions on others?
  • Are my plans flexible enough to adapt to changing circumstances?
  • Can I see the big picture, the small detail, and the connections all at once?
  • Which of my current goals are potential traps, and which are opportunities?