Written by Dr. Ujjwal Bikram Khadka
Today when conversations, particularly among HR, revolve around Artificial Intelligence (and how there looms an ever-increasing threat of machines taking over humans), I posit that spirituality and mindfulness bear an even greater significance. Yes, unarguably – or arguably – machines have enriched our organizations ( and our lives), but it can’t be denigrated that there are people behind those machines… behind those automatons are alive and thinking humans! Also, suffice to say that taking care of the humans will take care of the machines (or help them help the machines!)
So, before getting to the premise of this writing, a little backdrop:
I have been hooked on spirituality and mindfulness since more than two and a half decades, and the knowledge and insights acquired thereof has enriched my life in myriad ways. So, whether I am working as an Emergency Room doctor (which is as stressful and challenging a job as there can be) in my homeland Nepal at some far-flung busy, semi-rural hospital distant from big cities, or whether I am toiling to pen that next work (a blog, an article, a novel or non-fiction book), I am (perhaps subconsciously) also referring to the creativity-fostering wisdom and insights that welled from books on spirituality that have been a constant in my life. And so it goes about the power the insights can hold for people you and I, as leaders, can positively impact.
Now, let the sentences that follow border on the affirmation that we need to regard managers and leaders as humans first and regard our peers and sub-ordinates as same (humans, that is, and not mere cogs in the wheel)… it can bring us to a place where they can enrich our lives with their leadership even in the age of Artificial Intelligence. Especially in the age of Artificial Intelligence!
Moving on, it is a well-known fact that “mindfulness” and the teachings surrounding it are no longer “esoteric” or woo woo. In fact, many organizations, hospitals and business schools the world over are turning to “mindfulness” to solve their problems. Well, the problems at organizations and businesses could be leadership problems, and the ones at hospitals health-related. In any case, mindfulness has been the answer, and dare I say ” the need of the hour” at many fronts.
Also, let me affirm that the popularity of “mindfulness” movement has come about largely through an understanding. What is that understanding? Well, managers and leaders are primarily humans… humans who have human and humane needs: in being able to relish occasional leisure to rejuvenate and realign their goals and ambitions, to find meaning and purpose on an individual front, to help them understand their “true nature” to understand the “true nature” of success in organizational settings, and to make a positive contribution to the World at large. These are the basic ones but mindfulness resonates with needs at different levels: again both at personal and at an organizational sphere.
Now, when we acknowledge mindfulness we acknowledge a few premises. What are they? They are:
1) Humans are spiritual beings who, at their core, crave to find meaning and purpose. And the purpose and meaning and the sense of joy and satisfaction always comes through a sense of “community and belonging”.
2) The above-mentioned point brings us to the following affirmation. When we endeavor to submit to a community (and a community that by rule follows ethical norms), we arrive at and delve into the concept and wisdom of empathy, compassion and co-creation. We put ourselves in others’ shoes. We acknowledge and understand that whether we are a boss or a sub-ordinate, we’re in essence working for the greater good, and so we empathize with each other’s unique situation. That understanding alone helps us leverage our own potential to make a positive difference. So, ushered by the aforesaid understanding, we also empathize and acknowledge that the boss or CEO who is unduly and unreasonably angry could just be “having a bad day”, and that it’s not personal. Nothing is and has been personal, since everybody strives to work for the greater good. We co-evolve: at all fronts.
3) Occasionally one sits back, relaxes and reevaluates their priorities: not in haste, but in a manner of contemplation. It is cathartic, rejuvenating and enlightening. Accessing silence helps us realign our purpose and goal. When we let the idiosyncrasies in our microcosm… or our individual world and its problems (in the form of our compulsion to turn victims to “everyday behavioral flaws” like back-biting and criticizing etc), get amended, the world at large and its problems get amended. The approach henceforth is “inside out”.
4) When our life’s mission statement places greater emphasis on other-centric and we-centric goals over me-centric ones, great, positive and lasting changes start to happen: on all fronts.
5) Rather than working yourself (and others) up through seamless haste, work out a plan to view everybody in a positive light, empathize with their individual agendas, and just let them be. It’s in a human nature to crave harmony and peace. And it is the same with all human beings. Relinquish your urge to create undue and unnecessary strife. Which again seeps into our life – the urge and need to back-bite and gossip, the itch to create disharmony – if we don’t remain mindful. Remain watchful and mindful. That’s the key. Simply life. Simplify your own agendas and see how they fit into your greater role as an employee, and most importantly as a human.
6) Remember that you cannot change everything, but you can change you! Start with yourself.
7) Whether you’re a boss or a sub-ordinate, remember this: everybody is trying to be the best versions of themselves, everybody is toiling to make decent and meaningful contributions in their own little ways… relax and inculcate humility and compassion. Inspire. Often the inspiration can be something as intangible as a silent blessing or something as commonplace (yet oftentimes illusory) as a smile.
Dr Ujjwal Bikram Khadka is a Nepali doctor, Professional Coach and published author. His articles or book excerpts have been published in SightsIn Plus (an HR Magazine) https://drive.google .com/open?id=1G0LkpZ6M30T1L6Vw sUtLDuusNuTzDXIh
The Kathmandu post, Annanote, GlobalNepalipatra and Ethnic Voice Weekly (a Hongkong based paper), among others.
He has penned an e-book on mindfulness, “Leading the soul way: How to understand your true nature to understand the true nature of happiness, peace and lasting fulfillment”. He writes reviews, articles and books and blogs regularly. Since teenage days he has been hooked to books on spirituality and mindfulness and feels that in it lay his passion. He is the co-founder of Khadka World International, a leadership training firm in Nepal. He received his Coaching certification from Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching in 2015.
Disclaimer: The issues of health, wealth, success and productivity discussed in this article are for general informational purposes only and shouldn’t be constituted as, substituted or regarded as expert advice on the matter.