Zen and leadership

Since I’ve been back from San Francisco and my long stint of travel is over for a while, I have been trying to come back to reality and find my center.  Now if you know me, you know I don’t do “center” very well.  I’m much more accustomed to constant movement, idea fountains and non-stop. . . well, everything.  So my goal of balance and calm is a little unnerving.

I don’t do yoga for obvious reasons (hello? an hour of silence and doing only one thing? yeah, right), so in these times of center/balance searching, I do the next best thing.  I go to my Zen master.  Well, he’s not a Zen master per se, but he does yoga and phrases most of his advice in ways that make him sound like the Dalai Lama, so it’s close enough for me.  (I will not be revealing the identity of my Zen master.  He is my secret weapon of strength, and secret weapons are not for sharing.)

So these weeks have been full of lunches and coffees and phone calls with sage wisdom, encouraging words, and. . . leadership thoughts of the day.

Even a Zen master needs to draw inspiration from other sources (I suppose that’s how you get to be so wise), and he is open to many potential points of entry.  He regularly refers me to read books and essays that he has found helpful over the years, and I regularly ask him to just give me the highlights – the Zen Cliffs Notes.

But he subscribes to an email list serve that sends out a leadership quote of the day, and these he forwards me (knowing they are only a sentence or two and so within my capacity for consumption right now).  At first I took them pretty seriously, open to any and all wisdom coming as a direct line from my Zen master.

There were ones I could totally relate to, like this one:  “The method of the enterprising is to plan with audacity and execute with vigor.” – Christian Bovee.  Yes.  Totally.  And very inspirational ones:  “The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities.  We need men who can dream of things that never were.” – John F. Kennedy.  Now you’re talking.  Rock on.

Then there were a few questionable ones getting sprinkled in.  And then they got to be ridiculous.  Like this one: “Executives who get there and stay suggest solutions when they present the problems.” – Malcolm Forbes.  WTF?  And then along came this one, and I had to put my foot down:  “A man doesn’t need brilliance or genius, all he needs is energy.” – Albert Greenfield.  I’m afraid that just isn’t true.  You think an energetic idiot is going to get very far?  And who is compiling these leadership thoughts?  Every. single. day.  Perhaps a little less trolling for quotes and a little more “leading” would be a good start.

So here I am, centered, balanced (sort of), and off the leadership thought of the day list serve.  But the Zen is staying.  Rock on.

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