On Being Bright
I have studied and referred to an ancient yogic text as my trusted guide for challenging relationships both personally and in business for the past few years. This has helped me navigate these relationships in a way that built stronger relationships and self-understanding as a result. This past week I had a chance to study this text and experience an embodiment of these practices with my yoga teacher, Rod Stryker.
In reflecting on the larger challenges at play in the world, our minds have become dulled. This dulling has created a more fearful, anxious and reactive state when faced with decision making. The environments that we live in and our lifestyles have created a dullness in our energy and minds. This loss of vitality directly translates into a loss of vitality on our businesses.
Our tendency to compete with others, to attempt to conquer and eliminate them is stronger than our tendency to collaborate with others, to support and embrace them. By understanding our minds, we can start to see how subtle these tendencies are and how we can change them. If we aspire to be leaders by having business be a force for good in the world, we need our light to be bright.
There are four conditions that create the greatest mental contaminants are:
Animosity originates from attachment. We become attached to our inner desires; for example, being richer, bigger, more respected and more influential than other people. We start to perceive successful people as the enemy and we seek ways to destroy them. This is the basis of strongly competitive environments in business. This limits our ability to see a broader perspective and the truth.
Cruelty from the desire to dominate, prestige and importance. Exploiting people who are poor and helpless is a habit deeply rooted in the rich and powerful.
Jealousy. Like cruelty, jealousy springs from desire to be better than others.
Self-righteousness. The base of self-righteousness is judgement. We tend to associate with people who have the same beliefs and values as ours. We strive to become a good person or a good business and condemn others who are not like us. We forget the pursuit of truth and our primary focus becomes outside of us. We criticize businesses we believe are bad and our energy gets focused on defending our position and emphasising our differences.
When I contemplated on the list, I felt like it was more common to experience these conditions in our current business environments than not. When we allow any of those conditions to prevail, we interrupt the peaceful flow of our minds. In business, we call that opportunity costs. When we turn our focus and energy outwards, we lose the energy source in our business. We can learn to recognize these tendencies. change our perspective and increase our vitality, joy and clarity.
Here’s how we can become bright in our minds, lives and business.
When we notice that we are feeling animosity towards another person or business, we cultivate friendlessness towards them. This does not mean we reach out and ask them to be our friends on social media, but we cultivate a positive attitude towards them. This practice frees the mind to be clear and transparent so it can focus on the issues within the business rather than pulled into distraction. We remind ourselves that their success depends on hard work and maybe good luck. If you find yourself critical of someone else’s success, a contemplative practice is to ask yourself if it’s because you crave power, prestige and glamor?
When we see the desire to be rich and powerful, we check in with our desire to dominate with compassion. Compassion is more than volunteering and serving others that are less fortunate than we are. Compassion starts with healing ourselves and understanding why we feel like we’re not enough. Compassion is a more subtle and potent practice than practicing friendship and requires greater skill and understanding. We start with first understanding where our own thoughts and feelings have been hurt. This pain creates a distortion of our world view and forces us to be hyper-vigilant. We become reactive, defensive, insensitive and quick to hurt others. Self-destructive behaviours and compassion do not co-exist. A mind that is free of these painful tendencies is a peaceful mind. This enhances the ability to see clearly, to relate to others pain without being swept up in it and to have more discernment in your choices. These qualities are essential for a leader in today’s rapidly evolving business environment.
When the desire to be better than others wells up, we can be happy for the other person. We can remind ourselves that they have put in effort and have made sacrifices to accomplish what they have.
When we are feeling self-righteous, the attitude needed is non-judgement. If we can extract ourselves from the trap of labelling others good or bad, we will naturally feel more freedom in using the energy to grow and develop ourselves. We can learn to develop discernment in terms of where we can put our resources to best serve the world.
These antidotes allow the mind to be clear and transparent. This state of mind allows us to innovate and see possibilities that are connected to our purpose. If we can develop these attitudes in our business, then as a collective we would be a powerful force for the world. What exciting possibilities that opens for us. After all, you’re building a movement and a business. Shine bright!