Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Buddha in the Boardroom

In his consulting work to non-profits, Nate is currently working with a Zen Buddhist Center on creating new programming and a strategic plan. He constantly says that the "Zennies" are hard to work with because they take a long time to think things out, and, as he puts it: "mindfulness is not a management tool."

I have been meditating on this, because I have been trying for some time to integrate my Buddhist practice into my everyday life. I am trying to be mindful of others on the subway, or aware of how my actions affect my office mates.

Yesterday, I was in a meeting, and I was concentrating on the topic at hand, but also keeping a strict awareness of my appearance and presentation. And at some point, I noticed how still I was being compared to the other three people in the room. One was fidgeting with her hair, one was hunched into her chair with her arms crossed over her chest, and the third was wiggling her feet and slipping her shoes on and off. So my mindfulness of my presentation was succeeding in keeping myself still and focuses.

But additionally, there were moments when my impulse was to jump in and ask a question or say something that I felt was important, and my mindfulness reminded me to be patient and wait my turn. I carefully weighed everything I said before I said it. And I felt that what I said contributed; I think I would rate this meeting participation higher than usual.

Mindfulness in this case is an enveloping thing; it means listening carefully to those around me, but still paying attention to my breath moving in and out of my body. It means being aware of my body, how it is positioned in the chair, but being aware of what is being processed in my mind.

So I think mindfulness can be a management tool for me. Perhaps it could be a management tool on a bigger (not just individual) level with the proper application.

1 responses:

WorkingDefinition said...

Very astute, especially your comments regarding your co-workers. I just finished a book called "Body Language" which you may find useful. What we do with our face, legs, arms, and the way we sit and stand, be it voluntary or not, sends signals that astute observers pick up upon. Awareness is of one's self and others, and is a process.

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