How do you wake up and start each day? Do you have a positive approach to solving life's challenges or do you sink into the negativity of the world situation? I'm a positive person and look at most problems as opportunities. I like to explore how difficult issues can be changed into something constructive.
How can we change our attitude and see problems as opportunities? In life as in business, it is for me, all about being able to work around things with patience, and to find a way to get something positive and meaningful out of the most negative situations. I call this positive transformation. I use this approach across the spectrum of my everyday life, especially with matters that don't have an easy fix.
At the moment, my interests and concerns are focused on the sustainability of the world ecosystem.
In this case, I do not just refer to that aspect of sustainability related to the scarcity of primary resources, such as being able to feed the growing global population, or the alarming level of pollution. Ecosystem is for me any type of environment whether a family, a business, a political or financial institution, or an individual.
At present, I believe that our current ecosystems are perilously stressed. The issue behind this strain is the widespread belief that our wealth can grow forever without limits. This global economic theory is what continues to bring more tension to our business and political organizations, as well as to individuals and families.
The result of this prevalent worldwide economic approach, unfortunately has been the collapse of a financial system, the poor performance and decline of business organizations, the growth of mental diseases across the board, and the breakdown of many families.
I believe this is a time for the world to open its eyes and hearts and understand that long term values will not come from pushing everything and everyone to their daily limit. No matter what the conversation, if it is business, finance, or personal wealth, we must come to recognize that the world we live in has limited energy and resources.
These present negative beliefs and gloomy current circumstances, can be the grist for the mill of transformation. We can take the negative and use it to our advantage to create ways to shift from the widening polarity driven by a preoccupied minority, to an inclusive and proactive positive redefining and rebuilding action.
This is mission critical not only for a few organizations but also for people around the world. It is something that cannot be postponed, and every single individual has to understand that this situation is touching his / her own life.
How do we explain this important problem of sustainability? How can we create true awareness and mindfulness about this? What is the solution to it?
For me, the explanation and approach to action starts with integrating the sacred and the secular. For me personally, this is a combination of Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism , ecology and mindfulness. The first spells out that we are all part of the same ecosystem (the abandonment of the concept of self). The second clarifies the meaning and foundation of sustainability. Mindfulness is the daily process to achieving all three.
Most of the problems we experience in our daily life, whether at home, in business, or in the world around us, are generated by a highly individualistic approach. In business terms, our mind says: I need to push more, so that I can get more money for my business, for myself, for my family. Even though I welcome the natural order of abundance, I don't support a negative underlying over emphasis on being driven by a sense of lack. At present, there are few thoughts focused on how our negative actions, whether inside or outside a business practice, are impacting the rest of the people and the environment around. We see this negative tendency in many different circumstances, all driven by cravings of individual power.
Buddhism and the practice of mindfulness bring to the table two important points in this respect. In Buddhism there is the law of cause and effect and the concept of self-cherishing. Mindfulness is the process of using our awareness to focus on
being aware and conscious in every single moment of our lives. I often use them, not only in my daily meditations, but also as a technical, non-religious approach to everything I analyze and do in my life and in the business.
How do I put these into practice in my work? Let's say a situation at the office has become a full-blown crises. A series of errors have become a crucial issue. Instead of overreacting, attacking people and getting angry, I slow down my thoughts, breathe and remember this mindfulness process:
- We are all connected and my negative reaction would only generate more tension, panic and anger (cause and effect)
- It is not about me. If I help the team go through this, we can all learn together and hopefully gain something from this incident (moving from self centric to team-centered)
- I focus on my breath in the moment I'm aware of the present situation but allow myself to follow the natural flow of the breath and calm down. Once I am in a centered place, I can assist others around me to calm down. Then we can all create awareness of the problem, explore the details, and find a solution together (Mindfulness and awareness of the situation to calm the mind)
Without going too much in depth, the theory of karma points out the Newtonian principle that every action produces an equal and opposite reaction. Every time we think or do something, we create a cause, which in time will produce its corresponding effects (positive or negative, depending on the action). The resultant actions impact not only the environment around us, but also our own body and mind.
Neuroscience has many studies that show how different kind of deeds and emotions produce positive or negative changes to our brain and body http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/neuroscience-reveals-the-secrets-of-meditation-s-benefits/.
What is important for all of us to understand is that every single negative action and behavior produces a negative effect on other people, and even if not immediately, the negative action, will also impact the individual that has generated it. The result of this is a clear damage to the external world, and also to the inner life of the person. All this translates into unhappiness for the individual and for the world around him or her.
If I relate this to business, many are the examples of companies where the organization is taken down in a short period of time https://hbr.org/1999/07/why-good-companies-go-bad, due to the execution of a poor and negative leadership. Leaders trapped in their own ego, focus their efforts on short-term self-centered goals, treat people poorly, push for unrealistic top down plans, create a culture of fear, and jeopardize the future of the business and all the people and families working for it.
One of the key reasons behind this behavior is the fact that there is the natural tendency of human beings to act based upon personal selfish objectives. In a practical way Tibetan Buddhism highlights the fact that based on our own personal experience, "we can observe that the more we hold on to a strong sense of self cherishing our own self-interest, the greater our own emotional and psychological problems" http://www.lionsroar.com/the-heart-of-the-buddha/.
As stated above, negative actions not only endanger our environment, but also our body and mind. Self-destructive emotions, are generated by an unhealthy desire for non-stop acquisition of "more," and on the misguided belief that no matter how much more I get, it will still not be enough. This will never lead any human being to happiness.
This behavior is the real cause of most of the problems we are facing nowadays, and I believe that this negative approach is the real issue.
Even ecology explains that the sustainability of an ecosystem depends on its capacity to endure, and that this is based on the capacity of all its parts to act in harmony.
Cooperation is the organizing principle of a sustainable ecological, political, economical, cultural ecosystem.
Every political and business leader, every human being, has to understand that the way we have been pushing things so far is not sustainable. The world we live in, as well as the businesses we lead, have limited resources and growth. Ongoing stress does not generate sustainable growth. It is key that we support our current resources in order to allow them to renew and get re-energized. This is the same process we see when our body gets injured. The natural regeneration process of our cells can take place only if we allow our body to rest.
Building a sustainable world ecosystem must become the mission. It all starts with the reprioritization of our lives and our business values. Simplicity, compassion, respect for people and the environment around us, are a big part of the solution.
We are all part of the same universe, our actions effect every single particle of it. Our aspiration should be the welfare of all sentient beings and the abandonment of a destructive self-centered attitude.
Federico Foli ©