|Cutting Edge Ideas from 2500 Years Ago|
A Little Less Vision, Please
The champagne is long quaffed, the kisses and good wishes savored, and now, only a few short weeks into it, a new business year looms around the corner like a Hummer in a hairpin turn. What over-arching vision is going to get you leaping off the mattress these dark, January mornings as you hurl headlong into yet another year in the world of commerce? How can you hit new heights, feel great, and have a positive effect on others — all at the same time?
How 'bout this for a plan for '04: let's forget about grand visions altogether this year. Let's stay focused on what we want to get done, have as much fun as possible and forget everything else! Radical, huh? Yet in today's climate, it may be the only plan that will work, both for ourselves as well as for our organizations.
In Paleolithic times, what we had at the beginning
of the year were exercises such as strategic planning,
goal-setting, and finalizing of budgets. Now of course,
we have all these new goodies, like the corporate vision
and the mission statement and putting passion into our
work and — Oy! — they're killing us faster than
traditional stuff! Such striving! Such
angst! It's what
Chogyam Trungpa, Tibetan Buddhist leader and founder
of the Naropa Institute in Boulder, called "Spiritual
Materialism." He compares all this grasping for
knowledge and understanding to shopping for antiques:
Being wiser and more enlightened doesn't mean working harder to "collect" knowledge — it means being more aware of what is occurring in each moment. This core Buddhist principle is the 'focus' part of my prescription for 2004. The second part is to enjoy ourselves as much as possible. Is that really a requirement for success, or merely something that would be cool?
According to a Gallup poll conducted in early 2001, less than 30 percent of American workers are fully engaged at work. Some 55 percent are "not engaged." All the corporate visioning in the world can't work if that's the case. Yet, if each of us can just make ourselves whole and happy — that's what we will have inside to give away to others! We will automatically engage without any more lofty guiding principal. Conversely, if we're weary of spirit — it doesn't matter how exciting the mission statements are.
Passion is not something for which we need an exhaustive search. We speak about bringing it to work as if we're hauling a cord of wood. Real passion is light as a feather and occurs in moments — not as a constant.
Focus is achieved by quieting down and letting go. Enjoyment is actually a moment-by-moment choice. Just by following this simple agenda you are much more likely to prosper than by searching for or following a big vision — especially if it is someone else's.
For those of you who think this is merely more chicken soup, I assure you I couldn't be more practical. In fact, at the end of this issue is a link to my report entitled "Buddha Talks Business: 10 Tips for Ensuring Your Success in 2004." It's a step-by-step curriculum for achieving focus and enjoyment in even the most hard-boiled business environments.
And, though I've never claimed to be a psychic, here are the answers to some of the "but" questions you're going to ask:
During the holidays, I spoke to an old friend of mine from the earliest days of the software industry. Between the two of us, we've followed the light of many a company vision, and, at least in our younger days, sweated bullets trying to absorb all the business wisdom we could from corporate "Thought Leaders." And you know what we've eventually gotten from that effort? OLDER!! What's endured is our friendships and the good will we've built up among colleagues and customers that allows us to continue to make a nice living.
So let's take a breather this year from huge visions- — ourselves and those of our leaders — and just stay focused, get some good results, and feel healthy and whole. With all the freed-up energy we'll have, we're bound to have a positive effect on others and perform better for those poor folks whose job it is to calibrate our success.
A little less vision, a little more Rock and Roll!