Conscious News – Conscious Manager – Online Magazine A holistic approach to self, business and life. Mon, 29 Jul 2019 12:33:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders? Tue, 15 Sep 2015 19:08:59 +0000 lady leaders

There are three popular explanations for the clear under-representation of women in management, namely: (1) they are not capable; (2) they are not interested; (3) they are both interested and capable but unable to break the glass-ceiling: an invisible career barrier, based on prejudiced stereotypes, that prevents women from accessing the ranks of power. Conservatives and chauvinists tend to endorse the first; liberals and feminists prefer the third; and those somewhere in the middle are usually drawn to the second. But what if they all missed the big picture?

In my view, the main reason for the uneven management sex ratio is our inability to discern between confidence and competence. That is, because we (people in general) commonly misinterpret displays of confidence as a sign of competence, we are fooled into believing that men are better leaders than women. In other words, according to when it comes to leadership, the only advantage that men have over women (e.g., from Argentina to Norway and the USA to Japan) is the fact that manifestations of hubris — often masked as charisma or charm — are commonly mistaken for leadership potential, and that these occur much more frequently in men than in women.

This is consistent with the finding that leaderless groups have a natural tendency to elect self-centered, overconfident and narcissistic individuals as leaders, and that these personality characteristics are not equally common in men and women. In line, Freud argued that the psychological process of leadership occurs because a group of people — the followers — have replaced their own narcissistic tendencies with those of the leader, such that their love for the leader is a disguised form of self-love, or a substitute for their inability to love themselves. “Another person’s narcissism”, he said, “has a great attraction for those who have renounced part of their own… as if we envied them for maintaining a blissful state of mind.”

The truth of the matter is that pretty much anywhere in the world men tend to think that they that are much smarter than women. Yet arrogance and overconfidence are inversely related to leadership talent — the ability to build and maintain high-performing teams, and to inspire followers to set aside their selfish agendas in order to work for the common interest of the group. Indeed, whether in sports, politics or business, the best leaders are usually humble — and whether through nature or nurture, humility is a much more common feature in women than men. For example, women outperform men on emotional intelligence, which is a strong driver of modest behaviors. Furthermore, a quantitative review of gender differences in personality involving more than 23,000 participants in 26 cultures indicated that women are more sensitive, considerate, and humble than men, which is arguably one of the least counter-intuitive findings in the social sciences. An even clearer picture emerges when one examines the dark side of personality: for instance, our normative data, which includes thousands of managers from across all industry sectors and 40 countries, shows that men are consistently more arrogant, manipulative and risk-prone than women.

The paradoxical implication is that the same psychological characteristics that enable male managers to rise to the top of the corporate or political ladder are actually responsible for their downfall. In other words, what it takes to get the job is not just different from, but also the reverse of, what it takes to do the job well. As a result, too many incompetent people are promoted to management jobs, and promoted over more competent people.

Unsurprisingly, the mythical image of a “leader” embodies many of the characteristics commonly found in personality disorders, such as narcissism (Steve Jobs or Vladimir Putin), psychopathy (fill in the name of your favorite despot here), histrionic (Richard Branson or Steve Ballmer) or Machiavellian (nearly any federal-level politician) personalities. The sad thing is not that these mythical figures are unrepresentative of the average manager, but that the average manager will fail precisely for having these characteristics.

In fact, most leaders — whether in politics or business — fail. That has always been the case: the majority of nations, companies, societies and organizations are poorly managed, as indicated by their longevity, revenues, and approval ratings, or by the effects they have on their citizens, employees, subordinates or members. Good leadership has always been the exception, not the norm.

So it struck me as a little odd that so much of the recent debate over getting women to “lean in” has focused on getting them to adopt more of these dysfunctional leadership traits. Yes, these are the people we often choose as our leaders — but should they be?

Most of the character traits that are truly advantageous for effective leadership are predominantly found in those who fail to impress others about their talent for management. This is especially true for women. There is now compelling scientific evidence for the notion that women are more likely to adopt more effective leadership strategies than do men. Most notably, in a comprehensive review of studies, Alice Eagly and colleagues showed that female managers are more likely to elicit respect and pride from their followers, communicate their vision effectively, empower and mentor subordinates, and approach problem-solving in a more flexible and creative way (all characteristics of “transformational leadership”), as well as fairly reward direct reports. In contrast, male managers are statistically less likely to bond or connect with their subordinates, and they are relatively more inept at rewarding them for their actual performance. Although these findings may reflect a sampling bias that requires women to be more qualified and competent than men in order to be chosen as leaders, there is no way of really knowing until this bias is eliminated.

In sum, there is no denying that women’s path to leadership positions is paved with many barriers including a very thick glass ceiling. But a much bigger problem is the lack of career obstacles for incompetent men, and the fact that we tend to equate leadership with the very psychological features that make the average man a more inept leader than the average woman. The result is a pathological system that rewards men for their incompetence while punishing women for their competence, to everybody’s detriment.


tomas premuzicWritten by: Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic is the CEO of Hogan Assessment Systems, a Professor of Business Psychology at University College London, and a faculty member at Columbia University. Original text.


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Get 1% Better Every Day: The Kaizen Way to Self-Improvement Sat, 15 Aug 2015 13:48:55 +0000 axe

It’s happened to all of us.

You have a “come to Jesus” moment and decide you need to make changes in your life. Maybe you need to drop a few pounds (or more), want to pay off some debt, or desperately long to quit wasting time on the internet.

So you start planning and scheming.

You take to your journal and write out a bold strategy on how you’re going to tackle your quest for self-improvement. You set big, hairy SMART goals with firm deadlines. You download the apps and buy the gear that will help you reach your objectives.

You feel that telltale rush that comes with believing you’re turning over a new leaf, and indeed, the first few days go great. “This time,” you tell yourself, “this time is different.”

But then…

You had a long day at work, you just can’t make it to the gym, and by golly, eating an entire pizza would really make you feel better.

Or an unexpected expense comes up, and your bank account dips back into the red.

Or you decide you’ve been doing really well with being focused, so what’s a few minutes of aimless web surfing going to do?

Within a matter of days, your fiery ambition to change yourself is extinguished. That audacious, airtight plan in your journal? You don’t even look at it again because along with your goal to lose weight, your daily journaling goal has also met an untimely demise.

And so you’re back to where you started, only even worse off than before. Because now you’re not just an overweight, in debt, and easily distracted man, you’re an overweight, in debt, and easily distracted man who has failed at not being overweight, in debt, or easily distracted. The sting of failure can feel like an existential gut punch.

But time heals all wounds. Nature has — for better and worse — blessed us with terrible memories, so we forget how crappy we felt when we failed in our last attempt to radically improve ourselves.

Thus, six months later that itch to change yourself returns, and the whole scenario plays itself out again, like some Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich-infused version of Groundhog Day.

Getting Off the Roller Coaster of Personal Development

Our quest to become better often feels like a roller coaster ride with its proverbial ups and downs. By the time you’re headed down Self-Improvement Mountain for the twentieth time, you’re vomiting out the side of your cart in self-disgust, cursing yourself that you once again bought a ticket to ride.

Why are our attempts to better ourselves usually so uneven, and why do they so frequently end in failure? There are a few reasons:

Focusing on the big goal overwhelms us into inaction. It’s an article of faith in the world of personal development that you have to make big, Empire State goals. You don’t just want to dominate in your own life — you want to dominate the world.

And so you draw up plans for leaving behind the 99% of schmos out there, and becoming part of the extraordinary 1% — not necessarily as measured in pure wealth, but in passion, fitness, financial independence, and number of Machu Picchu pics in your Instagram feed.

But the enormity of your goals ends up overwhelming you into inaction. What we moderns call “stress” would be better termed “fear”; the physiological reaction is the same in both emotions. A big, audacious goal looks to the brain just like a saber-toothed tiger stalking us in the woods, and the idea of paying off $100K in student loan debt seems so impossible that it’s actually scary. And when our brain encounters scary, the old amygdala kicks into fight-flight-freeze mode, and you assume the position of deer-stuck-in-headlights.

Big, giant goals can be awe-inspiring. But like many awe-inspiring things — a lion, a black hole, the Grand Canyon — they can also swallow you whole.

We think a magic bullet will save us. Let’s say that we’re able to overcome the torpor-inducing effects of aiming for radical personal change, and we start taking action towards achieving our goals. As humans are wont to do, instead of just getting right to work doing the boring, mundane, time-tested things that will bring success, we typically start looking for “hacks” that will get us the results we want as fast as possible and with as little work as possible. We want that magic bullet that will allow us to hit our target right in the bulls-eye with just one shot.

The danger of looking for a magic bullet is that you end up spending all your time searching for it instead of actually doing the work that needs to be done. You scroll through countless blog articles on productivity, in hopes of discovering that one tip that will make you superhumanly efficient. You listen to podcast after podcast from people who earn their living telling people how to make money online, hoping one day you’ll hear an insight that will unlock your businesses’ potential, so you too can make your living online, telling other people how to make a living online. You research and find the perfect gratitude journal so you can be more zen.

propusThe insidious thing about searching for magic bullets is that you feel like you’re doing something to reach your goals when in fact you’re doing nothing. Magic bullet hunting is masturbatory self-improvement. All the pleasure, without the production of metaphorical progeny.

We stop doing the things that helped us improve in the first place. Okay. So let’s say you don’t let the bigness of your goal overwhelm you, and you’re not a chump magic bullet hunter either.

You get to work. Slowly but surely you start seeing results. You lose five pounds. You whittle $200 off your debt. You meditate for 20 minutes a day for a whole week.

You’re having success!

But in our personal backslapping, we would do well to heed Napoleon’s warning: “The greatest danger occurs at the moment of victory.”

There’s a tendency for folks to view self-improvement as a destination. They think that once you reach your goal, you’re done. You can take it easy. So when these folks start having some success and things start getting better in their lives, they stop doing the things that got them to that point. And so they start backsliding.

I fell into this trap when I was first trying to get a handle on my depression. I’d take some proactive steps to leash my black dog — meditate, write in my journal, get outside, etc. As soon as I started to feel better, I’d think, “Hey! I beat it this time! I’m cured!” So I let up. I stopped doing the things that helped me feel better in the first place. And of course, I went back to feeling terrible.

Self-improvement isn’t a destination. You’re never done. Even if you have some success, if you want to maintain it, you have to keep doing the things you were doing that got you that success in the first place.

The Kaizen Effect: Get 1% Better Each Day

“Little strokes fell great oaks.” –Benjamin Franklin

It’s time to get off the self-improvement roller coaster.

To do so, we’re going to embrace the philosophy of small, continuous improvement.

It’s called Kaizen. It sounds like a mystical Japanese philosophy passed down by wise, bearded sages who lived in secret caves.

The reality is that it was developed by Depression-era American business management theorists in order to build the arsenal of democracy that helped the U.S. win World War II. Instead of telling companies to make radical, drastic changes to their business infrastructure and processes, these management theorists exhorted them to make continuous improvements in small ways. A manual created by the U.S. government to help companies implement this business philosophy urged factory supervisors to “look for hundreds of small things you can improve. Don’t try to plan a whole new department layout — or go after a big installation of new equipment. There isn’t time for these major items. Look for improvements on existing jobs with your present equipment.”

After America and its allies had defeated Japan and Germany with the weaponry produced by plants using the small, continuous improvement philosophy, America introduced the concept to Japanese factories to help revitalize their economy. The Japanese took to the idea of small, continual improvement right away and gave it a name: Kaizen — Japanese for continuous improvement.

While Japanese companies embraced this American idea of small, continuous improvement, American companies, in an act of collective amnesia, forgot all about it. Instead, “radical innovation” became the watchword in American business. Using Kaizen, Japanese auto companies like Toyota slowly but surely began to outperform American automakers during the 1970s and 1980s. In response, American companies started asking Japanese companies to teach them about a business philosophy American companies had originally taught the Japanese. Go figure.

Graphic inspired by The Slight Edge

Graphic inspired by The Slight Edge

While Kaizen was originally developed to help businesses improve and thrive, it’s just as applicable to our personal lives, and it’s the antidote to perpetual, puke-inducing rides on the self-improvement roller coaster.

Instead of trying to make radical changes in a short amount of time, just make small improvements every day that will gradually lead to the change you want.

Each day, just focus on getting 1% better in whatever it is you’re trying to improve. That’s it. Just 1%.

It might not seem like much, but those 1% improvements start compounding on each other. In the beginning, your improvements will be so small as to seem practically nonexistent. But gradually and ever so slowly, you’ll start to notice the improvements in your life. It may take months or even years, but the improvements will come if you just focus on consistently upping your game by 1%.

You’ll eventually reach a certain point with your personal development in which a 1% increase in improvement is equal to the same amount of improvement you experienced in the first few days combined. That’s sort of hard to get your mind around, because math. But think about it: 1% of 1 is just .01; 1% of 100 is 1. You’re maybe at a 1 right now, and will only be making tiny improvements for awhile. But stick with it. You’ll eventually reach that 100 level (and beyond) where you’ll be improving by a factor of 1 every day.

That’s the power of the compounding effect.

Why Kaizen Works

“When you improve a little each day, eventually big things occur. When you improve conditioning a little each day, eventually you have a big improvement in conditioning. Not tomorrow, not the next day, but eventually a big gain is made. Don’t look for the big, quick improvement. Seek the small improvement one day at a time. That’s the only way it happens — and when it happens, it lasts.” —John Wooden

The Kaizen approach to self-improvement completely circumvents the unproductive ups and downs all too common to the quest. By breaking down big, overwhelming goals into super small, discrete pieces, Kaizen encourages action. The small successes you experience with your baby steps feed on each other and start building some momentum, which leads to taking bigger and bigger actions.

What’s more, one of the underlying assumptions of Kaizen is that there is no magic bullet that will suddenly make things better. Change comes through small, continuous improvement. Instead of wasting your time searching for the “one thing” that will change everything, Kaizen calmly directs your attention to the task at hand and offers this needed reminder: “You already know what you need to do. Get to work and find small ways to improve along the way.”

Finally, Kaizen isn’t a “one and done” approach to life. It’s a process of continual improvement. You’ll never “arrive” with Kaizen, so the temptation to rest on your laurels once you’ve seen a bit of improvement is reduced. The Kaizen mindset reminds you that all improvements must be maintained if you wish to secure your gains. As Rory Vaden says: “Success isn’t owned, it’s rented. And the rent is due every day.”

How to Implement Kaizen in Your Life

Ask yourself this question every single day: What’s one small thing I can start doing that would improve my life?

Then, start small. Like really small:

  • Want to start the exercise habit? Just do a single push-up as soon as you roll out of bed in the morning. The next morning, add another. And so on and so forth. In two months, you’ll be doing 60 push-ups in the morning. In a year’s time, you’ll be giving Charles Bronson a run for his money.
  • Want to establish a morning and evening routine? Start with the evening, and concentrate on the 10 minutes right before you go to bed. Plan what you’ll do during those 10 minutes — it can be as simple as brushing your teeth for 2 minutes, flossing for 1, and reading for 7 — and make it a habit. Every day, add 5 more intentional minutes until your whole evening becomes a satisfying routine. Then work on the morning.
  • Want to start journaling? Instead of making it a goal to write a page each day, just start off with writing for a minute. That’s it. You might only get a sentence or two down, but that’s okay. The next day, add a minute. In a month, you’ll be writing in your journal for 30 minutes if that’s something you want to do.
  • Want to start reading your scriptures more? Start with one.single.verse. Add another verse each day, until you’re reading a chapter a day.
  • Want to start meditating? Begin with a minute of breathing exercises. That’s it.
  • Want to lose weight? Cut out one sugary drink a day. Or cut your usual afternoon snack in half.

You get the idea. Think of the smallest step you can take that would move you incrementally towards your goal. Then try to make it even smaller.

When tackling big goals, it’s usually advised to only work on one goal at a time, but with the Kaizen approach, working on several things at once it entirely doable.

Try to do just 1% better than the day before. Start small and make your increases gradual. Avoid the temptation to get impatient and start rushing forward and taking bigger leaps. Take it slow, steady, and consistent.

Simply try to do a little bit better than you did the day before.

Yes, the improvements will be gradual. Some days you may not even notice your improvement and it will be tempting to abandon ship and try something else. But with Kaizen, Father Time is your ally. You’ve got to play the long game with your self-improvement — you have to develop what wrestling legend Dan Gable calls the “Patience of Change.”

As my buddy Mark Rippetoe would say, “Just do the program!”

Once you’re reached your goal, start a maintenance plan, and keep it up for the rest of your life. Lost enough weight? Keep up the manageable diet/exercise plan you’re on, indefinitely. Reached the point where you’re reading 30 minutes a day? Keep it up, and enjoy watching a library of read-books accumulate year after year.

Self-improvement isn’t a destination. It’s a process. It’s like shaving; even though you did it this morning, you’re still going to have to wake up and do it again tomorrow. The process never ends.

Give up on the idea that you’ll someday “arrive.” You’ll never arrive. Instead of focusing on the results of your effort to improve yourself, focus on the process. Joy in the journey, and all that jazz.

And remember this: If you want to maintain the improvement you’ve made, you have to keep doing the things that brought you that success in the first place. Don’t let your early success lull you into a false security, and allow yourself to slack off.

What About Setbacks?

Of course, you’ll encounter setbacks. Some days you may get worse by 1%. That’s okay. It’s just 1% worse. Forget about yesterday and concentrate on today. Get back into the saddle and start doing 1% better again.

Change is possible.

You can get better.

It just takes time and patience.

With small strokes, you shall surely fell great oaks.



The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy

The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson

One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way by Robert Mauer

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Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Sun, 01 Dec 2013 17:51:53 +0000 The emotional brain responds to an event more quickly than the thinking brain. --- Daniel Goleman

The emotional brain responds to an event more quickly than the thinking brain. — Daniel Goleman

Emotional Intelligence – EQ – is a relatively recent behavioural model, rising to prominence with Daniel Goleman’s 1995 Book called ‘Emotional Intelligence’. The early Emotional Intelligence theory was originally developed during the 1970s and 80s by the work and writings of psychologists Howard Gardner (Harvard), Peter Salovey (Yale) and John ‘Jack’ Mayer (New Hampshire). Emotional Intelligence is increasingly relevant to organizational development and developing people, because the EQ principles provide a new way to understand and assess people’s behaviours, management styles, attitudes, interpersonal skills, and potential. Emotional Intelligence is an important consideration in human resources planning, job profiling, recruitment interviewing and selection, management development, customer relations and customer service, and more.

Emotional Intelligence links strongly with concepts of love and spirituality: bringing compassion and humanity to work, and also to ‘Multiple Intelligence’ theory which illustrates and measures the range of capabilities people possess, and the fact that everybody has a value.

The EQ concept argues that IQ, or conventional intelligence, is too narrow; that there are wider areas of Emotional Intelligence that dictate and enable how successful we are. Success requires more than IQ (Intelligence Quotient), which has tended to be the traditional measure of intelligence, ignoring essential behavioural and character elements. We’ve all met people who are academically brilliant and yet are socially and inter-personally inept. And we know that despite possessing a high IQ rating, success does not automatically follow.

Different approaches and theoretical models have been developed for Emotional Intelligence. This summary article focuses chiefly on the Goleman interpretation. The work of Mayer, Salovey and David Caruso (Yale) is also very significant in the field of Emotional Intelligence, and will in due course be summarised here too.

Emotional Intelligence – two aspects

This is the essential premise of EQ: to be successful requires the effective awareness, control and management of one’s own emotions, and those of other people. EQ embraces two aspects of intelligence:

  • Understanding yourself, your goals, intentions, responses, behaviour and all.
  • Understanding others, and their feelings.

Emotional Intelligence – the five domains

Goleman identified the five ‘domains’ of EQ as:

  1. Knowing your emotions.
  2. Managing your own emotions.
  3. Motivating yourself.
  4. Recognising and understanding other people’s emotions.
  5. Managing relationships, i.e., managing the emotions of others.


Emotional Intelligence embraces and draws from numerous other branches of behavioural, emotional and communications theories, such as NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), Transactional Analysis, and empathy. By developing our Emotional Intelligence in these areas and the five EQ domains we can become more productive and successful at what we do, and help others to be more productive and successful too. The process and outcomes of Emotional Intelligence development also contain many elements known to reduce stress for individuals and organizations, by decreasing conflict, improving relationships and understanding, and increasing stability, continuity and harmony.

Mindful meditation has been discovered to foster the ability to inhibit those very quick emotional impulses. ---  Daniel Goleman

Mindful meditation has been discovered to foster the ability to inhibit those very quick emotional impulses. —
Daniel Goleman

Emotional Intelligence competence framework, case studies, examples, tools, tests, information and related theory references

The following excellent free Emotional Intelligence materials in pdf file format (Acrobat Reader required to view) are provided with permission of Daniel Goleman on behalf of the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence, which is gratefully acknowledged:

The Emotional Competence Framework – a generic EQ competence framework produced by Daniel Goleman and CREI covering in summary:

  • personal competence – self-awareness, self-regulation, self-motivation
  • social competence – social awareness, social skills

‘Emotional Intelligence: what is it and why it matters’. An excellent information paper by Dr Cary Cherniss originally presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, in New Orleans, April 2000. This is a detailed history and explanation of Emotional Intelligence.

The Business Case for Emotional Intelligence – a paper by Dr Cary Cherniss featuring 19 referenced business and organizational case studies demonstrating how Emotional Intelligence contributes to corporate profit performance. The paper is an excellent tool which trainers, HR professionals and visionaries can use to help justify focus, development, assessment, etc., of EQ in organizations.

Guidelines for Promoting Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace – a paper chiefly constructed by Cary Cherniss and Daniel Goleman featuring 22 guidelines which represent the best current knowledge relating to the promotion of EQ in the workplace, summarised as:

paving the way

  • assess the organization’s needs
  • assessing the individual
  • delivering assessments with care
  • maximising learning choice
  • encouraging participation
  • linking goals and personal values
  • adjusting individual expectations
  • assessing readiness and motivation for EQ development


Doing the work of change

  • foster relationships between EQ trainers and learners
  • self-directed change and learning
  • setting goals
  • breaking goals down into achievable steps
  • providing opportunities for practice
  • give feedback
  • using experiential methods
  • build in support
  • use models and examples
  • encourage insight and self-awareness


Encourage transfer and maintenance of change (sustainable change)

  • encourage application of new learning in jobs
  • develop organizational culture that supports learning

Evaluating the change – did it work?

  • evaluate individual and organizational effect

More information about Emotional Intelligence, plus details of EQ tests, EQ training and EQ development in general are available at the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations.

Tips on how to explain emotional intelligence – perspectives and examples

As mentioned above, Daniel Goleman’s approach to Emotional Intelligence is not the only one. The work of Mayer, Salovey and Caruso is also very significant in the field of Emotional Intelligence and can be explored further on John Meyer’s Emotional Intelligence website.

When teaching or explaining Emotional Intelligence it can be helpful to the teacher and learners to look at other concepts and methodologies, many of which contain EQ elements and examples.

Emotional Intelligence tests/activities/exercises books – for young people ostensibly, but just as relevant to grown-ups – provide interesting and useful exercises, examples, theory, etc., for presentations and participative experience if you are explaining EQ or teaching a group. For example ’50 Activities For Teaching Emotional Intelligence’ by Dianne Schilling – my copy was published by Innerchoice Publishing – ISBN 1-56499-37-0, if you can find it. Otherwise look at Amazon and search for ‘activities for teaching emotional intelligence’).

There’s a very strong link between EQ and TA (Transactional Analysis). To understand and explain EQ you can refer to the ‘adult’ aspect of the TA model (for example, we are less emotional intelligent/mature when slipping into negative child or parent modes). In this way we can see that one’s strength in EQ is certainly linked to personal experience, especially formative years.

NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) is very relevant to EQ, as is Multiple Intelligences Theory.


When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight. —Kahlil Gibran

Ethical business and socially responsible leadership are strongly connected to EQ.

So is the concept of love and spirituality in organisations. Compassion and humanity are fundamental life-forces; our Emotional Intelligence enables us to appreciate and develop these vital connections between self, others, purpose, meaning, existence, life and the world as a whole, and to help others do the same.

People with strong EQ have less emotional ‘baggage’, and conversely people with low EQ tend to have personal unresolved issues which either act as triggers (see Freud/Penfield TA roots explanation) or are constants in personality make-up.

Cherie Carter-Scott’s ‘If Life Is Game’ and Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements’ also provide excellent additional EQ reference perspectives.

Empathy and active interpretive modes of listening are also very relevant to EQ.

Ingham and Luft’s Johari Window and associated exercises on the free team building games section also help explain another perspective. That is, as a rule, the higher a person’s EQ, the less insecurity is likely to be present, and the more openness will be tolerated.

High EQ = low insecurity = more openness.

A person’s preparedness to expose their feelings, vulnerabilities, thoughts, etc., is a feature of EQ. Again the converse applies. Johari illustrates this very well (see the Johari Window diagram pdf also).

Maslow’ theory is also relevant to Emotional Intelligence. Self-actualizers naturally have stronger EQ. People struggling to meet lower order needs – and arguably even middle order needs such as esteem needs – tend to have lower EQ than self-actualizers. The original 5 stage Hierarchy of Needs explains that all needs other than self-actualization are deficiency drivers, which suggest, in other words, some EQ development potential or weakness.

There is a strong thread of EQ running through Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits.

In fact, most theories involving communications and behaviour become more powerful and meaningful when related to Emotional Intelligence, for example:

  • Leadership
  • Buying Facilitation®
  • Benziger Thinking Styles and Assessment Model
  • McGregor XY Theory


How Money Actually Buys Happiness? Sat, 29 Jun 2013 07:36:16 +0000 “If you’re in the luckiest one per cent of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99 per cent.”  ? Warren Buffett

“If you’re in the luckiest one per cent of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99 per cent.”
? Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett’s advice about money has been scrutinized — and implemented — by savvy investors all over the world. But while most people know they can benefit from expert help to make money, they think they already know how to spend money to reap the most happiness. As a result, they follow their intuitions, using their money to buy things they think will make them happy, from televisions to cars to houses to second houses and beyond.

The problem with this approach is that a decade of research — conducted by us and our colleagues — demonstrates that our intuitions about how to turn money into happiness are misguided at best and dead-wrong at worst. Those televisions, cars, and houses? They have almost no impact on our happiness. The good news is that we now know what kind of spending does enhance our happiness — insight that’s valuable to consumers and companies alike.

Buffet recently penned an op-ed titled “My Philanthropic Pledge” — but rather than offer financial advice about giving, he suggested we give as a way to enhance our emotional wellbeing. Of his decision to donate 99% of his wealth to charity, Buffett said that he “couldn’t be happier.”

But do we need to give away billions like Buffet in order to experience that warm glow? Luckily for us ordinary folks, even more modest forms of generosity can make us happy. In a series of experiments, we’ve found that asking people to spend money on others — from giving to charity to buying gifts for friends and family — reliably makes them happier than spending that same money on themselves.

And our research shows that even in very poor countries like India and Uganda — where many people are struggling to meet their basic needs — individuals who reflected on giving to others were happier than those who reflected on spending on themselves. What’s more, spending even a few dollars on someone else can trigger a boost in happiness. In one study, we found that asking people to spend as little as $5 on someone else over the course of a day made them happier at the end of that day than people who spent the $5 on themselves.

Smart managers are using the power of investing in others to increase the happiness of their employees. Google, for example, offers a compelling “bonus” plan for employees. The company maintains a fund whereby any employee can nominate another employee to receive a $150 bonus. Given the average salaries at Google, a $150 bonus is small change. But the nature of the bonus — one employee giving a bonus to another rather than demanding that bonus for himself — can have a large emotional payoff.

Investing in others can also influence customers. Managers at an amusement park were unable to convince patrons to buy pictures of themselves on one of the park’s many rides. Less than one percent purchased the photo at the usual $12.95 price. But researchers tried a clever variation. Other customers were allowed to pay whatever they wanted (including $0) for a photo, but were told that half of what they paid would be sent to charity. Now, buying the picture allows the customer not only to take home a souvenir, but also invest in others. Given this option, nearly 4.5% of customers purchased the photo, and paid an average of more than $5. As a result, the firm’s profit-per-rider increased fourfold.

Warren Buffett, happiness guru. Just as we have taken his advice on making money, research suggests we should now take his advice on making happiness. By rethinking how we spend our money — even as little as $5 — we can reap more happiness for every dollar we spend. And Buffett’s happiness advice comes with a financial payoff as well. By maximizing the happiness that employees and customers get from every dollar they receive in bonuses or spend on products, companies can increase employee and customer satisfaction — and benefit the bottom line.

Written by: by Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton

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Enlightment-engineer Tue, 25 Jun 2013 18:24:58 +0000 Meditation and mindfulness are the new rage in Silicon Valley. And it’s not just about inner peace—it’s about getting ahead.

Meditation and mindfulness are the new rage in Silicon Valley. And it’s not just about inner peace—it’s about getting ahead.

CHADE-MENG TAN IS PERCHED ON A CHAIR, his lanky body folded into a half-lotus position. “Close your eyes,” he says. His voice is a hypnotic baritone, slow and rhythmic, seductive and gentle. “Allow your attention to rest on your breath: The in-breath, the out-breath, and the spaces in between.” We feel our lungs fill and release. As we focus on the smallest details of our respiration, other thoughts—of work, of family, of money—begin to recede, leaving us alone with the rise and fall of our chests. For thousands of years, these techniques have helped put practitioners into meditative states. Today is no different. There’s a palpable silence in the room. For a moment, all is still. I take another breath.

The quiet is broken a few minutes later, when Meng, as he is known, declares the exercise over. We blink, smile at one another, and look around our makeshift zendo—a long, fluorescent-lit presentation room on Google’s corporate campus in Silicon Valley. Meng and most of his pupils are Google employees, and this meditation class is part of an internal course called Search Inside Yourself. It’s designed to teach people to manage their emotions, ideally making them better workers in the process. “Calm the mind,” Meng says, getting us ready for the next exercise: a meditation on failure and success.

More than a thousand Googlers have been through Search Inside Yourself training. Another 400 or so are on the waiting list and take classes like Neural Self-Hacking and Managing Your Energy in the meantime. Then there is the company’s bimonthly series of “mindful lunches,” conducted in complete silence except for the ringing of prayer bells, which began after the Zen monk Thich Nhat Hanh visited in 2011. The search giant even recently built a labyrinth for walking meditations.

It’s not just Google that’s embracing Eastern traditions. Across the Valley, quiet contemplation is seen as the new caffeine, the fuel that allegedly unlocks productivity and creative bursts. Classes in meditation and mindfulness—paying close, nonjudgmental attention—have become staples at many of the region’s most prominent companies. There’s a Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute now teaching the Google meditation method to whoever wants it. The cofounders of Twitter and Facebook have made contemplative practices key features of their new enterprises, holding regular in-office meditation sessions and arranging for work routines that maximize mindfulness. Some 1,700 people showed up at a Wisdom 2.0 conference held in San Francisco this winter, with top executives from LinkedIn, Cisco, and Ford featured among the headliners.

These companies are doing more than simply seizing on Buddhist practices. Entrepreneurs and engineers are taking millennia-old traditions and reshaping them to fit the Valley’s goal-oriented, data-driven, largely atheistic culture. Forget past lives; never mind nirvana. The technology community of Northern California wants return on its investment in meditation. “All the woo-woo mystical stuff, that’s really retrograde,” says Kenneth Folk, an influential meditation teacher in San Francisco. “This is about training the brain and stirring up the chemical soup inside.”

It can be tempting to dismiss the interest in these ancient practices as just another neo-spiritual fad from a part of the country that’s cycled through one New Age after another. But it’s worth noting that the prophets of this new gospel are in the tech companies that already underpin so much of our lives. And these firms are awfully good at turning niche ideas into things that hundreds of millions crave.

MANY OF THE PEOPLE who shaped the personal computer industry and the Internet were once members of the hippie counterculture. So an interest in Eastern faiths is all but hardwired into the modern tech world. Steve Jobs spent months searching for gurus in India and was married by a Zen priest. Before he became an American Buddhist pioneer, Jack Kornfield ran one of the first mainframes at Harvard Business School.

But in today’s Silicon Valley, there’s little patience for what many are happy to dismiss as “hippie bullshit.” Meditation here isn’t an opportunity to reflect upon the impermanence of existence but a tool to better oneself and improve productivity. That’s how Bill Duane, a pompadoured onetime engineer with a tattoo of a bikini-clad woman on his forearm, frames Neural Self-Hacking, an introductory meditation class he designed for Google. “Out in the world, a lot of this stuff is pitched to people in yoga pants,” he says. “But I wanted to speak to my people. I wanted to speak to me. I wanted to speak to the grumpy engineer who may be an atheist, who may be a rationalist.”

Mindfullness coach Chade-Meng Tan.

Mindfullness coach Chade-Meng Tan.

Duane’s pitch starts with neuroscience and evolutionary biology. “We’re basically the descendants of nervous monkeys,” he says, the kind with hair-trigger fight-or-flight responses. In the modern workplace, these hyperactive reflexes are now a detriment, turning minor squabbles into the emotional equivalents of kill-or-be-killed showdowns. In such situations, the amygdala—the region of the brain believed to be responsible for processing fear—can override the rest of the mind’s ability to think logically. We become slaves to our monkey minds.


Repeated studies have demonstrated that meditation can rewire how the brain responds to stress. Boston University researchers showed that after as little as three and a half hours of meditation training, subjects tend to react less to emotionally charged images. Other research suggests that meditation improves working memory and executive function. And several studies of long-term practitioners show an increased ability to concentrate on fast-changing stimuli. One paper cited by the Google crew even implies that meditators are more resistant to the flu.

But Googlers don’t take up meditation just to keep away the sniffles or get a grip on their emotions. They are also using it to understand their coworkers’ motivations, to cultivate their own “emotional intelligence”—a characteristic that tends to be in short supply among the engineering set. “Everybody knows this EI thing is good for their career,” says Search Inside Yourself founder Meng. “And every company knows that if their people have EI, they’re gonna make a shitload of money.”

Meng has had quite a career himself, joining Google in 2000 as employee number 107 and working on mobile search. But for years, his attempts to bring meditation into the office met with limited success. It was only in 2007, when he packaged contemplative practices in the wrapper of emotional intelligence, that he saw demand spike. Now there are dozens of employee development programs at Google that incorporate some aspect of meditation or mindfulness. And Meng—who was born in Singapore and was turned on to Buddhism by an American nun—has slowly ascended to icon status within the company. More than one Search Inside Yourself student has asked Meng for his autograph.

There is in fact little data to support the notion that meditation is good for Google’s bottom line, just a few studies from outfits like the Conference Board showing that emotionally connected employees tend to remain at their current workplaces. Still, the company already tends to its employees’ physical needs with onsite gyms, subsidized massages, and free organic meals to keep them productive. Why not help them search for meaning and emotional connection as well?

Duane, for one, credits Google’s meditation program with upgrading both his business and personal life. It wasn’t long ago that he was a stress case, and with good reason: He was leading a 30-person site-reliability team while dealing with his father’s life-threatening heart disease. “My typical coping strategy—the bourbon and cheeseburger method—wasn’t working,” he says. Then Duane attended a lecture Meng arranged on the neuroscience of mindfulness and quickly adopted a meditation practice of his own.

Duane believes the emotional regulation he gained from meditation helped him cope with his father’s eventual death. The increased ability to focus, he says, was a major factor in his promotion to a management post where he oversaw nearly 150 Googlers. In January he decided to leave the company’s cadre of engineers and concentrate full-time on bringing meditation to more of the organization. Google executives, who have put mindfulness at the center of their internal training efforts, OK’d the switch.

Duane still doesn’t have much use for hippies. He still professes to be a proud empiricist. But when I walk back into the Search Inside Yourself class, neither he nor any of the other Googlers seem at all fazed when Meng tells us to imagine the goodness of everyone on the planet and to visualize that goodness as a glowing white light.

As before, Meng’s voice lowers and slows to a crawl. And, of course, we close our eyes. “When you breathe in, breathe in all that goodness into your heart. Using your heart, multiply that goodness by 10,” he says, in a variation on a Tibetan Tonglen exercise. “When you breathe out, send all that goodness to the whole world. And if it’s useful to you, you may visualize yourself breathing out white light—brilliant white light—representing this abundance of goodness.” We exhale. I actually feel a buzzing on the underside of my skull as I try to imagine pure love. For a minute, I forget that we’re in a room ordinarily reserved for corporate presentations.

A “Search inside yourself” class at Google.

A “Search inside yourself” class at Google.

SEARCH INSIDE YOURSELF might have remained a somewhat isolated phenomenon in the Valley if a mindfulness instructor named Soren Gordhamer hadn’t found himself divorced, broke, out of a job, and stuck in the town of Dixon, New Mexico (population 1,500). Gordhamer, who had spent years teaching yoga and meditation in New York City’s juvenile detention centers, was feeling increasingly beleaguered by his seemingly uncontrollable Twitter habit. He decided to write a book—Wisdom 2.0: Ancient Secrets for the Creative and Constantly Connected—that offered tips for using technology in a mindful manner.

The book wasn’t exactly a best seller. But Gordhamer struck a nerve when he described how hard it was to focus in our always-on culture. By providing constant access to email, tweets, and Facebook updates, smartphones keep users distracted, exploiting the same psychological vulnerability as slot machines: predictable input and random payouts. They feed a sense that any pull of the lever, or Facebook refresh, could result in an information jackpot.

And so he got the idea to host a conference where the technology and contemplative communities could hash out the best ways to incorporate these tools into our lives—and keep them from taking over. The event, billed as Wisdom 2.0, was held in April 2010 and drew a couple hundred people.

That was three years ago; since then attendance at the now annual conference has shot up 500 percent. In 2013 nearly 1,700 signed up to hear headliners like Arianna Huffington, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, Twitter cofounder Evan Williams, and, of course, Meng talk about how they run their enterprises mindfully. Gordhamer has become a Silicon Valley superconnector, with an array of contacts that would make an ordinary entrepreneur burst with envy. He now leads private retreats for the technorati, and more conferences are in the works—one just for women, another to be held in New York City. “Everywhere you turn at Wisdom,” says PayPal cofounder Luke Nosek, “it’s like, ‘Oh my God, you’re here too?’”

On an enclosed porch outside the exhibition hall at this year’s Wisdom 2.0 event, Zen-monk-turned-CEO Marc Lesser talks about his plans to take the Search Inside Yourself training to companies everywhere. Plantronics, Farmers Insurance, and VMware have already signed up. Nearby, companies promoting mindfulness apps and “cloud-based platforms for market professionals” hawk their wares while an acoustic guitar player strums. On the main stage, executives discuss how they maintain mindful practices during the workweek: One wakes up early and focuses on his upcoming meetings; another takes a moment to pause as she dries her hands in the bathroom. In the cavernous, wood-paneled main hall, oversize screens show a silhouette of a brain connected to a lotus flower and the logos for Twitter and Facebook.

One of the reasons that Wisdom 2.0—and the broader movement it represents—has become so big, so quickly, is that it stripped away the dogma and religious trappings. But it’s hard not to consider what gets lost in this whittling process. Siddhartha famously abandoned the trappings of royalty to sit under the Bodhi Tree and preach about the illusion of the ego. Seeing the megarich take the stage to trumpet his practices is a bit jarring.

It also raises the uncomfortable possibility that these ancient teachings are being used to reinforce some of modern society’s uglier inequalities. Becoming successful, powerful, and influential can be as much about what you do outside the office as what you do at work. There was a time when that might have meant joining a country club or a Waspy church. Today it might mean showing up at TED. Looking around Wisdom 2.0, meditation starts to seem a lot like another secret handshake to join the club. “There is some legitimate interest among businesspeople in contemplative practice,” Kenneth Folk says. “But Wisdom 2.0? That’s a networking opportunity with a light dressing of Buddhism.”

ON THE THIRD DAY of this year’s Wisdom 2.0 conference, Facebook engineering director Arturo Bejar takes the stage with Thupten Jinpa, the Dalai Lama’s English interpreter and right hand in North America. They tell the crowd about an experiment going on at Facebook that is at once subtle, a little strange, and potentially of deep significance. While many other Silicon Valley companies are teaching their employees to meditate, Facebook is trying to inject a Buddhist-inspired concept of compassion into the core of its business.

Bejar had been a somewhat reluctant guest at the first Wisdom 2.0 conference in 2010. But he was struck by an onstage conversation about kindness with American Buddhist trailblazer Jon Kabat-Zinn. If people truly see one another, Kabat-Zinn said, they’re more likely to be empathetic and gentle toward each other. Bejar knew something about depending on the kindness of others. As a geeky teenager in Mexico City in the 1980s, he snuck into a tech convention by bribing the guards with candy bars; a local IBM exec was so impressed he gave Bejar a job. Then Bejar had his college education paid for by a friend of a family friend: Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak.


After hearing Kabat-Zinn, Bejar began looking for ways to bring some of that compassion to Facebook, where bullying and flame wars were all too common among users and the tools for reporting offensive content weren’t terribly effective. Bejar set up a series of “compassion research days” at Facebook and brought in Buddhist-inspired academics from Berkeley, Yale, and Stanford to see if they could help.

The researchers’ advice: Make the tools more personal, more conversational, and more emotional. For instance, let people express their vulnerability and distress when asking for a problematic picture or status update to be removed. The changes were small at first. Instead of tagging a post as “Embarrassing,” users clicked a new button that read “It’s embarrassing.” But those three letters made an enormous difference. It turned the report from a seemingly objective classification of content into a customer’s subjective, personal response. Use of the tool shot up 30 percent almost immediately. This in a field where a change of a few percentage points either way is considered tectonic.

Facebook’s meditation room.

Facebook’s meditation room.

Further fixes followed: personalized messages, more polite requests to take down a photo or a post, more culture-specific pleas. (In India, for example, online insults directed at someone’s favorite celebrity tend to cut deeper than they do in the US.) “Hey, this photo insults someone important to me,” reads one of the new automatically generated messages. “Would you please take it down?”

It’d be easy to be cynical about this effort—to laugh at people who over- identify with a Bollywood starlet or to question why meditation teachers, the masters of directing attention, are working with the social networks that cause so much distraction. But when you sit with Bejar and his colleagues at Facebook as they review these reports—when you see all the breakups, all the embarrassing photos, the tiffs between mothers and daughters—it’s hard not to feel sad and awed at the amount of confusion and hurt. Over a million of these disputes happen every week on Facebook. If you had a God’s-eye view of it all, wouldn’t you want to handle that pain with gentle hands?

Buddhists have been preaching for centuries that we are all fundamentally interconnected, that the differences between us literally do not exist. That is the basis of Buddhist compassion. And there is no place where this interconnectedness is more obviously revealed than on Facebook. Arturo Bejar isn’t running off to a monastery; his personal meditation practice, if you can call it that, is taking a walk with his camera. But incorporating Buddhism’s compassionate kernel into a billion-person social network? That reflects a level of insight many people will never reach, no matter how long they sit cross-legged.

ONE NIGHT DURING the Wisdom 2.0 conference, I meet Kenneth Folk and some of his protè9gè9s at a vegetarian restaurant run by the local Zen center. At first the conversation doesn’t sound so different from what I might hear at Wisdom 2.0: the neuroscience of mindfulness, the remixing of ancient traditions, the meditation-as-fitness riff.

Then things turn kaleidoscopic. After the mesquite-grilled brochettes with Hodo Soy tofu, Vincent Horn, who runs the popular Buddhist Geeks website and podcast, tells me that everyone I’m eating with is enlightened.

Horn drops this casually, as if he were discussing his hair color or the fact that all of the men are wearing pants. I’m not sure how to respond. As Jay Michaelson — the guy sitting to my left, and the author of Evolving Dharma: Meditation, Buddhism, and the Next Generation of Enlightenment — gleefully notes, talking openly about enlightenment is as big a taboo as there is in modern American Buddhism, where the exploratory journey trumps any metaphysical destination. Enlightenment implies sainthood, perfect wisdom, an end to the cycle of birth and death. Michaelson, Folk, and Horn are polishing off their second bottle of red. Is that who they think they are?

Folk’s journey toward enlightenment, he later explains to me, started in 1982 when he ran out of cocaine. An addict, he took the only drugs he could find: four hits of LSD. He saw a glass tube open up into the sky and merge with beautiful white light. “My drug addiction vanished in that moment,” he recalls. It sent him on a decades-long journey to re-create the experience. He spent three months on a silent retreat in Massachusetts and another six at a Burmese monastery, wearing a sarong in winter and eating his final meal of the day at 10 am. He found himself hitting ecstatic heights. But he also found that, at times, meditation could lead to rather horrible depression.

The monks of Burma told Folk that the depressive episodes were the completely predictable result of his meditative work and that they would soon be over. He was on a well-worn path through 16 stages of insight, each one bringing him closer to enlightenment. They laid out a map of his inner voyage and told Folk precisely where he was. Folk followed their plan and, he says, eventually became enlightened.

It was a radical shift from the method traditionally used by mystics to impart wisdom, in which a master cryptically pointed the acolyte in the direction he should go. And Folk loved it. Enlightenment wasn’t some completely mysterious, ungraspable goal. He returned to America ready to preach a gospel of jail-broken enlightenment: The source code for spiritual awakening is open to anyone. “Enlightenment is real. It is reproducible,” he says. “It happens to real human beings. It happened to me.”

Not surprisingly, Folk’s doctrine was rather attractive to a set of seekers who were raised with the idea that information should be free and status updates should be shared publicly. He and Horn started contributing to a web forum called the Dharma Overground, founded by Daniel Ingram, the soundman for one of Folk’s old bands. It became the place online to share tips on the most effective means to promote enlightenment, to brag about the mystical powers that come with intensive meditation, and to chart their progress through the four rounds of 16 stages that lead to a final awakening. Ingram wrote “Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha: An Unusually Hardcore Dharma Book,” which became a cult classic, in part because it likened meditation to a contemplative videogame. Episodes of Horn’s “Buddhist Geeks” podcast are now downloaded regularly by 100,000 people. On his website, Horn is constantly introducing new forms of mindfulness for the social media crowd, from concentration- boosting apps to something he calls #Hashtag Meditation.

But until recently, Folk himself remained relatively unknown. He lived with his mother-in-law in a New York City suburb, teaching meditation over Skype. Then, in the spring of 2011, Luke Nosek—a partner at one of Silicon Valley’s most successful venture capital firms—emailed Folk from Manhattan and insisted they get together. Like, immediately. “I have a spaceship,” said Nosek, whose fund owned a chunk of the private rocket company SpaceX. “What planet do I have to fly to so I can meet you tonight?”

Nosek had a history with meditation. But nothing like this. When he and Folk meditated, it brought him into a state of such utter focus, he says, that “I could see the patterns of threads in my socks with more detail than I had in my entire life.” Nosek and several other execs paid to move Folk out to San Francisco so he could start opening some of Silicon Valley’s most influential minds.

In some ways, Folk’s seemingly mystical enlightenment gospel would appear to be a bad fit for the titan-of-industry set—especially compared with the business-friendly message found at Search Inside Yourself or Wisdom 2.0. And several established Buddhist leaders who came to this year’s conference were openly wary of what they saw as an unhealthy fixation on the brass ring of enlightenment. “If someone really wants it, I’ll teach it,” says Kornfield, cofounder of the Spirit Rock Meditation Center north of San Francisco. “But a strong goal orientation can heighten unhealthy ambition and self-criticism. It doesn’t really heighten wisdom.”

Folk’s doctrine may be less radical than it seems, however. Yes, he calls himself enlightened. But he doesn’t think of himself as some holy man. To him, the old stories of Buddhist saints shaking off their cravings for food or sex are just that: stories. “Sainthood is a relic of the past,” he says.

Nor is Folk interested in re-creating that LSD-induced peak anymore. “It’s a loser’s game,” he says. Better to take every experience as it comes and then let it pass. (You can’t hold on to those feelings anyway.) Enlightenment may be hackable and shareable, but only if its meaning radically changes. To Folk, being enlightened is about “meta-OK-ness”—meaning that it’s OK even when it’s not OK—which he says anyone who tries can achieve.

AT SEARCH Inside Yourself, Meng starts with a seemingly small request for Googlers to pair off and take turns meditating on each other’s happiness. I sit across from Duane, the tattooed former engineer, and do my best to send him good vibes. Not only is he a nice guy who’s been through some pain, he’s at least indirectly responsible for the tools I use a thousand times a day. I want him and every other Googler to be their highest selves—centered, focused, calm, and content. Perhaps I can help head off a future Google Buzz.

But Meng has another goal in mind for this exercise: to help his colleagues develop mental habits conducive to kindness. It’s these sorts of meditations, Meng tells me later, that ultimately led him to “discover the ability to access joy on demand. After a while, it became a skill.” He smiles and gives me a look as if to say: No, seriously.

Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised at the claim. Last year Meng published a Search Inside Yourself book. The introduction proclaims him to be “a closet Bodhisattva”—a Buddhist saint, next in holiness to Siddhartha himself.

Despite the language of neuroscience and business advancement, Search Inside Yourself is ultimately an attempt to replicate Meng’s elevated mind-state—first in Googlers and then in the rest of us. “We can all become saints, because saintly habits are trainable,” he tells the class. “I hope you all do.”

And if we start such training, Meng insists, we won’t just be helping ourselves. “My dream is to create the conditions for world peace, and to do that by creating the conditions for inner peace and compassion on a global scale,” he writes. “Fortunately, a methodology for doing that already exists … Most of us know it as meditation.”

Suddenly acid-inspired Kenneth Folk seems downright grounded in comparison. It’s hard to deny that meditation can have remarkable benefits. But world peace? Sainthood? That may be a bit of a stretch. Steve Jobs spent lots of time in a lotus position; he still paid slave wages to his contract laborers, berated subordinates, and parked his car in handicapped stalls.

One of Meng’s students raises her hand. This saintly training, this randomly wishing for others’ happiness—it doesn’t seem all that genuine, she says: “It felt like I was saying the words, but I wasn’t actually doing anything by thinking that.”

Duane tells her it’s OK to feel that way. The practice will help you later, he says, even if it comes across as empty at the time. “There’s definitely a fake-it-till-you-make-it aspect to it,” he says.

Oh no, Meng answers. It’s the first time in the whole class he’s corrected anyone. “It’s not faking it until you make it,” he says. “It’s faking it until you become it.”

The session ends and we walk out into the sun feeling slightly dazed. The next lesson begins in five minutes.

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Catch people doing things right? Sat, 01 Jun 2013 09:09:09 +0000 If you don't ackowledge efforts, you ultimately get mediocre performances. --- Peter Burwash?

If you don’t ackowledge efforts, you ultimately get mediocre performances. — Peter Burwash?

Ken Blanchard probably did more in his book ‘The One Minute Manager’ then anyone to bring forth the concept of “catch people doing things right”. For some reason many leaders have the mentality that it is their role and duty to catch people doing things wrong. Once this kind of mentality permeates the culture of an organization, the employees become fearful. A swordwieling leader will never get the best from his employees. People may respond short term to this approach, but in the long term they will move on to another job. I ‘m amazed at how many leaders still think they have to be Attila the Hun. It is interesting to note, however, that those individuals who manage by fear are usually the most insecure.

From : “The key to great leadership”, Peter Burwash, chapter 9 : High level of Appreciation for Employees.

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Intelligence and sincerety Sat, 25 May 2013 09:07:02 +0000 Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers. --- Tony Robbins

Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.
— Tony Robbins

In order to be successful, we need two things: intelligence and sincerity.

Intelligence is needed to understand what needs to be done and how, what is the best thing to do in any given situation and what is the optimal way to do it.

Sincerity is needed so we can do things in a way that builds trust.

That means being honest and taking into consideration other people’s needs interests and concerns, not only our own.

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Why Failure Is Good for Success Fri, 17 May 2013 18:00:34 +0000 “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” --- Albert Einstein

“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” — Albert Einstein

To achieve your personal best, to reach unparalleled heights, to make the impossible possible, you can’t fear failure, you must think big, and you have to push yourself. When we think of people with this mindset, we imagine the daredevils, the pioneers, the inventors, the explorers: They embrace failure as a necessary step to unprecedented success.

But you don’t have to walk a tightrope, climb Mount Everest or cure polio to employ this mindset in your own life. When the rewards of success are great, embracing possible failure is key to taking on a variety of challenges, whether you’re reinventing yourself by starting a new business or allowing yourself to trust another person to build a deeper relationship.

“To achieve any worthy goal, you must take risks,” says writer and speaker John C. Maxwell. In his book Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones for Success, he points to the example of legendary aviator Amelia Earhart, who set several records and achieved many firsts in her lifetime, including being the first female pilot to fly solo over the Atlantic Ocean. Although her final flight proved fateful, Maxwell believes she knew the risk—and that the potential reward was worth it. “[Earhart’s] advice when it came to risk was simple and direct: ‘Decide whether or not the goal is worth the risks involved. If it is, stop worrying.’ ”

Easing Into a Fearless Mindset

“One of the biggest secrets to success is operating inside your strength zone but outside of your comfort zone,” Heath says. Although you might fail incredibly, you might succeed incredibly—and that’s why incredible risk and courage are requisite. Either way, you’ll learn more than ever about your strengths, talents and resolve, and you’ll strengthen your will for the next challenge.

If this sounds like dangerous territory, it can be. But there are ways to ease into this fearless mindset. The first is to consciously maintain a positive attitude so that, no matter what you encounter, you’ll be able to see the lessons of the experience and continue to push forward.

“It’s true that not everyone is positive by nature,” says Maxwell, who cites his father as someone who would describe himself as a negative person by nature. “Here’s how my dad changed his attitude. First he made a choice: He continually chooses to have a positive attitude. Second, he’s continually reading and listening to materials that bolster that attitude. For example, he’s read The Power of Positive Thinking many times. I didn’t get it at first, so once I asked him why. His response: ‘Son, I need to keep filling the tank so I can stay positive.’ ”

Heath recommends studying the failures and subsequent reactions of successful people and, within a business context, repeating such histories for others. “Reward them and applaud their efforts in front of the entire organization so everyone understands it is OK to fail. So employees say to themselves, ‘I see that Bill, the vice president of widgets, who the president adores, failed, and he is not only back at work, but he is driving a hot new sports car. I can fail and come to work the next day. Bill is proof of it.’ ”

Finally, Heath stays motivated by the thought that, “if I become complacent and don’t take risks, someone will notice what I am doing and improve upon my efforts over time, and put me out of work. You’ve got to keep finding better ways to run your life, or someone will take what you’ve accomplished, improve upon it, and be very pleased with the results. Keep moving forward or die.”

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How love, compassion and spirituality became unfashionable in corporations Sun, 05 May 2013 07:33:48 +0000 Business is associated with power and greed, spirituality is about the ability to let things go. Businesses or individuals can prosper only when these two come together. “We all breathe. But it’s only for a certain time that you can hold it inside. At one point you have to let go" --- Ravi Shankar

Business is associated with power and greed, spirituality is about the ability to let things go. Businesses or individuals can prosper only when these two come together. “We all breathe. But it’s only for a certain time that you can hold it inside. At one point you have to let go” — Ravi Shankar

Historically men dominated the business landscape, and still do today to an extent. Not surprisingly then male-oriented ideas and priorities – especially dispassionate left-side-brain factors – have tended to dominate business and organisations.

Conversely love, compassion and spirituality are generally perceived to be female traits. Men are less likely than women to demonstrate loving, compassionate, spiritual behaviour because of cultural and social expectations, especially when reinforced by the business traditions already mentioned.

Additionally, in some cases successful business people owe much of their success to a personal drive borne of insecurity – the motivation to fill a gap or want, which can manifest as relatively unloving, dispassionate behaviour. Some successful people seem to suppress their spirituality, and to actively resist love to the point that they cannot even discuss it.

Where unloving dispassionate behaviour exists in a business leader, whatever its cause, this unavoidably sets the tone for the whole organisation to be unloving and uncaring, and devoid of spiritual awareness. If this situation is replicated across very many large organisations, as arguably it has been during the 20th century, then inevitably business and work as a whole tends to be characterised in the same way – as unloving and uncaring, and certainly not spiritual.

I’m not saying that the western world is run by a load of emotionally insecure mentally dysfunctional ruthless men (although I bet we’ve all worked for at least one of them in our time), but arguably there are certain correlations between aggressive results-driven male behaviour, the short-term business success demanded by western economic systems, and the organisational and economic cultures that arose and endured from ‘successful’, dispassionate anti-spiritual (and mostly male) leadership.

I should also make the point that dispassionate results-driven behaviour is not the exclusive domain of men. Many successful women in business (and politics) have had to wear the trousers, if not full the battledress, to beat the men; at a man’s game, in a man’s world.

Let’s acknowledge also the reality that a methodology based on cold-hearted logic and dispassionate decision-making can produce very effective results, especially short-term, and where clinical leadership is required to overcome great challenge or difficulty. Moreover tyrants and bullies sometimes succeed. Some even achieve long-term success (according to their own definition of the word success). And arguably certain dispassionate methods, where people and environment are not affected, are a perfectly appropriate part of the business management mix.

However, unloving uncaring methods, which tend to predominate in organisations and to be passed on through successive leadership generations, are not the entire and only way to run a business or organisation.

Compounding the situation, the historical prevalence of dispassionate leadership, unloving ideas, and uncaring behaviour in organisations has tended to determine that reward systems and training and development methodologies have been correspondingly dispassionate, (staff and suppliers basically do as they are told after all), and so the whole selfish cycle reinforces itself.

Not surprisingly therefore, ideas about loving people, being compassionate and spirituality are unlikely to appear in many management training manuals or training courses. Nor are the principles of genuine tolerance and selfless giving, or the values of forgiveness, or of nurturing your own spirit, because after all we must love ourselves before we can unconditionally love everyone else, and what’s the point of loving yourself if the idea of loving anyone else is a totally alien concept in the conventional corporate world?

People who extol the virtues of love and spirituality in organisations have until recently largely been regarded as cranks – not because love and spirituality doesn’t work – but because organisations, and also the developed western economic world, have evolved to ignore and exclude the deepest of human feelings and needs. Which when you think about what we actually all are, and what we actually all need as people, is a bit strange and a bit daft.

Work and organisations in recent times have simply not aligned with some of humankind’s most basic needs – to be loved, and to find our own purpose and meaningful connections in life, which often brings us full circle to loving and helping others.

For a hundred years or more, millions upon millions of people who need love and spiritual meaning like they need food and drink, are denied these basic life requirements at a place that occupies the majority of their useful existence (their work), because love and spirituality (and all that these words represent) seemingly don’t feature on the corporate agenda.



Yes. However. As we know, things are changing.

People are most certainly now seeking more meaning from their work and from their lives.

People in far flung exploited parts of the world now have a voice, a stage, and an audience, largely enabled by technology and the worldwide web.

Customers, informed by the increasing transparency and availability of information, are demanding that organisations behave more responsibly and sensitively.

Increasing numbers of people are fed up with the traditionally selfish character of corporations and organisations and the way they conduct themselves.

The growing transparency of corporate behaviour in the modern world is creating a new real accountability – for the organisations which hitherto have protected the self-interests of the few to the detriment of everyone and everything else.

Now, very many people – staff, customers, everyone – demand and expect change.

Leaders need now to care properly for people and the future of the planet, not just to make a profit and to extract personal gain.

And so businesses and corporations are beginning to realise that genuinely caring for people everywhere is actually quite a sensible thing to do.

It is now more than ever necessary for corporations to make room for love and spirituality – to care for people and the world – alongside the need to make a profit.

Love, compassion, and spirituality – consideration for people and the world we live in – whatever you choose to call it – is now a truly relevant ethos in business and organisations.

Written by: Charu Talwar (November 2006) and supervised by Dr Sudha Banth Panjab University, Chandigarh, India.

The Humble Leader Tue, 30 Apr 2013 19:11:54 +0000 "The chief executive who knows his strengths and weaknesses as a leader is likely to be far more effective than the one who remains blind to them. He also is on the road to humility, that priceless attitude of openness to life that can help a manager absorb mistakes, failures, or personal shortcomings." ---  John Adair quoted by Henry O. Dorman in The Speaker's Book of Quotations (1987)

“The chief executive who knows his strengths and weaknesses as a leader is likely to be far more effective than the one who remains blind to them. He also is on the road to humility, that priceless attitude of openness to life that can help a manager absorb mistakes, failures, or personal shortcomings.” — John Adair quoted by Henry O. Dorman in The Speaker’s Book of Quotations (1987)

Humility is one of those leadership traits you do not see as frequently as you should. Humility is often perceived as a weakness when, in fact, it can be a tremendous asset. The leader who is humble rarely allows the power of their position to cloud their judgement. The leader who recognizes they are not perfect creates an environment where those around them feel comfortable making mistakes and taking chances.

What is your tendency when someone starts explaining something you think you already know? Do you interrupt to make sure they know you already know what they want to talk about? The next time this happens, try something new. Listen. Let them finish their explanation. Probe for more detail. You might be surprised and discover something you did not already know. You might walk away with more knowledge than had you interrupted them to stroke your own ego.

The humble leader assumes they do not know all the answers and allows people to explain things to them. They look for the opportunity to learn something new and they use every opportunity to make others feel valued. The humble leader knows the world around them is changing faster than they can keep up and is grateful for the opportunity to learn something new or reinforce knowledge they might already possess.

This is not to say that you need to act stupid to be humble. There is no harm in someone walking away knowing you are knowledgeable so long as the process did not leave them feeling “less than you.” Sharing your wisdom is important, but must be done in a way that “lifts the other person up.”

How do you do that? Simply weave your wisdom into the conversation without letting it dominate the conversation. Ask lots of questions and when they give their answer, validate them first, then add your comments laden with your knowledge and guidance.

In the act of being humble, you make others feel important and valued. That is the gift of the humble leader. Focus on your humility and you will find it can lift a weight from your shoulders. It takes a lot of effort to pretend you know it all. Besides, it is more refreshing being around people with some humility. Arrogance gets old fast.


Written by: Leroy McCarty is a student, teacher, and freelance writer on the topic of leadership living in Overland Park, Kansas.

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