If Buddha Was CEO: The Four Immeasurables in Business

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If Buddha Was CEO: The Four Immeasurables in Business

The ring is my wedding band.

Simple sterling silver with four words etched around the outside in the oldest known language, Sanskrit.

What are the words? The four immeasurables from Buddhism—Loving-kindness, Compassion, Appreciative Joy and Equanimity.

I think about them a lot, each serves as a constant reminder of how I strive to live in the world. It would be nice if I didn’t need to be reminded. But, like you, I’m human. I have nice days, and not so nice ones.

And that’s the point. The immeasurables are intended to be the focal ideas of meditation within the larger context of life, touchstones to bring you back to an understanding both of what matters and how truly interconnected we all are.

BuddhaNet offers:

…life is interdependent. In order to be happy, one needs to cultivate wholesome attitudes towards others in society and towards all sentient beings.

The best way of cultivating wholesome attitudes towards all sentient beings is through meditation. Among the many topics of meditation taught by the Buddha, there are four specifically concerned with the cultivation of loving-kindness, compassion, appreciative joy and equanimity. These four are called the Four Immeasurables because they are directed to an immeasurable number of sentient beings, and because the wholesome karma produced through practising them is immeasurable. The four are also called the sublime states of mind because they are like the extraordinary states of mind of the gods.

By cultivating the wholesome attitudes of loving-kindness, compassion, appreciative joy and equanimity, people can gradually remove ill will, cruelty, jealousy and desire. In this way, they can achieve happiness for themselves and others, now and in the future. The benefit in the future may come through rebirth in the fortunate realms.

I’ve also spent a lot of time exploring what might happen if you leaned on these principles not just as touchstones for a fulfilling life, but as guiding tenets in business.

What might happen if you built the culture of an entire business around the four immeasurables?

1. Loving-kindness

In the context of life, this is often interpreted as the wish that all others experience joy and happiness. This usually starts with a focus on those you know or have some connection to, then extends to a meditation for joy and fulfillment for everyone. Sounds lovely, but c’mon…really?

Isn’t this a bit too woowoo for serious business?

Yes, it’s very woowoo. Doesn’t mean it also won’t make for an insanely effective and transformational business-building experience. So, how might you bring this to business?

Maybe you’re a benevolent mogul, a bootstrap entrepreneur, a surf lifestyle artist or, hey, even a social media consultant. In each of these scenarios, traditional business teaching would have you in opposition to your competitors and even at times your clients and prospects. Selling someone would be about getting the best possible deal for you. Winning in business is about dominating. And success is about winning under that definition as often as possible.

That approach may well give you much perceived power, toys and wealth, but to what end?

Will it make you happy? Will it make you feel good about who you are, what you bring to the world and what you’ll leave behind? Will it allow you to genuinely walk through life in a state of contentment?

And, will it build the culture and good will that will drive the world to rally around your business success?

What if you did it differently, leading not with the quest to dominate and take, but to raise as many ships as possible? Even ones you don’t even know exist yet?

Artisanal firebowl sculptor, John Unger, calls this the Zillion Sum Game. What if you worked with equal fervor to bring the experience of maximum joy to everyone you came in contact with? Not by taking, but by helping and giving?

What if your core metric wasn’t earnings, but elevation?

How much more do you think others would begin to rally to support you, your business, your quest in a way that might never happen if it were driven solely by “take-based” metrics? What would the secondary effect on earnings be?

And even if there wasn’t direct, measurable reciprocation, how much more fun would it be to spend your days brainstorming cool, new ways to inspire more joy and more happiness in more people?

2. Compassion

The Dalai Lama was once asked if he feared anything and his answer was that he feared losing the ability to have compassion for the Chinese. If you know the history between the countries, that’s a pretty mind-blowing statement.

But, it’s at the root of your ability to understand then serve the driving needs of others, especially those perceived to be “in opposition” to you. And to do so in a way that not only far better meets what they really need out of an interaction, but structures that interaction in a way that makes both parties feel like they’ve won.

Before you begin any conversation, sale, negotiation or transaction, step back and, to the extent you can, try to place yourself in the role of your counterpart. Create a detailed avatar of them, their lives, struggles, history, desires, pains and elations, personal pressures within the organization.

Then close your eyes and visualize yourself as them. Take yourself through a day. How do you experience their fears, desires, aspirations? Are you even capable of feeling, seeing or hearing them? If so, how does it feel? How does the sensation fuel you?

The more capable you are of feeling these things, of understanding then cultivating a sense of compassion for those the business world view as your opponents, the better a position you’ll be in to cut past all the B.S. and have a real conversation about how to create something together that not only gives you both what you need, but creates enough new value to uplift those who weren’t even in the room.

[MMA Alert - This approach might not work so well if you're a cage-fighter]

3. Appreciative Joy

Appreciate Joy has this wonderful tie-in with a Yiddish word—naches—which, like most Yiddish words has no really good translation, but it’s the feeling you get when you see good things happen to someone for whom your wish for success is so pure, you feel their success as your own. There is no jealousy or contempt, no sense of you being on the losing end of a zero-sum game. You genuinely feel like their win is yours.

I felt this when my friend Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project, hit #1 on the New York Times bestseller list and when my buddy, Chris Guillebeau’s book exploded onto amazon. And of course I feel it every time my daughter or any other member of my close family succeeds at anything meaningful.

In business, the quest is to cultivate enough of the first two immeasurables to be able to experience that sense of appreciate joy or naches when those around you succeed. Even when they accomplish what you’ve been desperately trying to accomplish without success. Because, in accepting that sense of interdependence, you come to a place where you understand their success is yours.

You replace envy with ecstasy.

That’s a tough thing to imagine, especially when you see the world around you as competition. Which is why you get to make the choice…are they really your competition, or are they just another part of you?

Are you better off wracking your brain to figure out ways to beat them, or would your potential for growth, success and elevation be greater if you spent that same energy figuring out how best to collaborate?

4. Equanimity

In the context of the four immeasurables and business, this is really about looking at everyone as being your equal, without attachment to relative position or worth. It also means inviting the possibility that every person at every position is your teacher. And that can be tough, especially for those who perceive themselves as experts, thought leaders and success-stories.

What could a janitor teach a Nobel physicist? What could a short-order cook teach a global CEO? What could a child in the playground teach a world class athlete? What value could these people be to each other?

Answer – everything, if you’re willing to open your mind the notion that everyone is not only your equal, but your teacher.

Leveling your sense of status and attachment or non-attachment across all people is a brutally hard concept for most (me included). And it’s not about the need to be or feel superior as it is about the fact that our brains are biologically wired to experience elevations in status and “the right” relationships as deeply desirable. They trigger dopamine shots that make us feel better and want more.

The challenge, I believe, is to acknowledge and work with our history and biology to cultivate the sense of one-ness through the above three states that allows that same biochemical/spiritual sense of uplift to be triggered not only via increases in relative status and connectedness, but also by increases in the status and connectedness of others relative not to us, but to themselves. Starting with those you know, then extending to those you’ve never even met.

So, what do you think?

Is this just some ridiculous Utopian fantasy or a viable approach to next-generation business?

What might happen if you started with just one of these, gave it a try for a month?


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46 responses

46 Responses to “If Buddha Was CEO: The Four Immeasurables in Business”

  1. Jeff Munn says:

    I don’t think your suggesting is utopian, I think it’s essential. I feel like a powerful shift is beginning, and you are one of the leaders in this new community of business. Every day we see more clearly that all the stuff that we thought would bring us happiness isn’t. Our left-brain society just wants more more more and while we see it’s an empty path, we haven’t quite grokked what the alternative is. This community is finding and sharing that alternative.

    Do we need reminders? Absolutely. But the only way to the kind of happiness that we’re all looking for is through those human connections that you’re writing about every day. Courage, connection, and creativity–all skills of the right brain, and all, just like the four immeasurables, things that we can cultivate.

    Thanks for putting it out there ever day.

    Jeff

  2. I worked at a Buddhist meditation center for a year and a half as part of the management team. The center was not a non-profit, but over 70% of operating costs had to come from member donations. This was just to keep the place running, never mind repairs, renovations, or expansion.

    This was a unique situation where for many it felt wrong to charge (or pay for) Buddhist teachings. Yet, without running the center as a profitable business, we would not be able to continue to bring Buddhist teachers from around the world for in-depth teachings and retreats.

    Additionally, the staff was paid very little. Room, board and enough of a stipend to buy basic toiletries, a few treats, etc. Staff worked for so little in exchange for the opportunity to be around the teachings, to have the space to deepen their meditation and so on.

    We in management faced serious dilemmas. We had to stay true to Buddhist values (including the 4 Immeasurables), but without running the center more like a true business, we would shut down for lack of enough money.

    My point is this. When the center was run from Buddhist principles first, the result was too soft. When it was run first as a business, but remaining true to Buddhist principles, the center got out of the red and is now expanding and able to offer more scholarships.

    It is a delicate balance, one that requires continual adjusting. Loving-kindness is important, but it must be tempered with wisdom and courageousness, because sometimes the vajra mind is needed more than the compassionate mind.

    • Great post, Jonathan, and I second Jennifer’s comments here.

      I also happen to have worked in a number of Buddhist organizations and meditation centers that strove to conduct ‘business’ by Buddhist principles, including the Four Immeasurables. These were all wonderful places to work, for that very reason, but at the same time, other skills and perspectives were needed as well.

      I think one of the most interesting business/social profit models to look at that tried to integrate these values is the Greyston Foundation, founded by Zen teacher Roshi Bernie Glassman. See http://www.contemplativemind.org/programs/socialjustice/lief.html

      And people are people, wherever you go. Every group of people has its shadow side, and this is especially true of spiritual organizations. The way the dynamic works, if you try to deny the shadow it grows even bigger.

  3. How could these not support your business? If you did them without extending them to yourself as well.

    I love the four immeasurables and use them in my business daily. I use them to guide the work I do with people, and I also use them to structure my business, to include offerings at different affordabilities (including free) so that everyone can experience my work.

    Equanimity is probably the immeasurable that I rely on and look to the most in my work. As a counselor and a healer, if I cannot see the value of the person in front of me, I can’t help them. Equanimity goes beyond the surface “everybody has value, goodness, wisdom, etc.” idea, into a deep understanding of the gifts each person provides to this world. Sometimes simply expressing these gifts to my clients helps them open the doors inside them.

    And why are we so down on the woo-woo? That tide is turning as people differentiate between the real and the con. It really isn’t hard to tell the difference.

  4. Hiro Boga says:

    Jonathan, this post names with such precision and tenderness a way of being that is simple, direct, loving, and in service to wholeness.

    Business is not separate from the rest of our lives. Who I am in my business is who I am in the world. And the world is shaped by each choice we make: to be kind, or to add to the pool of unkindness. To be compassionate, or to fuel the fires of resentment, envy and hatred. To add appreciative joy to the bowl of the world, or to fill it with misery.

    Thank you for your loving, blessing presence, and this reminder to choose wisely.

  5. Suzanne says:

    This was really helpful for me today, and hopefully each day after. Thank you!

    Where can I get a ring like that to help me remember? :)

  6. Fantastic! I’ve been struggling with #3 for a long long time. I sometimes catch myself thinking, I’m just as good, why did they get the break and not me? Now, it’s easy to catch myself in this backwards thinking but I still struggle to stop it from popping up. I want to add that I do more often feel happiness when others succeed and I love to genuinely encourage others that are pushing themselves to be their best. But then almost out of nowhere, envy strikes, not with everyone but at my weakest moments. Thank you for reminding me that we can live consciously while striving to become leaders in our field.

  7. Enjoy reading the concept. However, the 4 Immeasurables in business generally come from the HR/Marketing Dept. A CEO in most cases put these 4 ideas on hold while climbing the latter. Like a CEO, Buddha would always be challenged by the world of Greed and would be tested to the limits of compassion in dealing with those around him that just might not be on the same page. Especially when the time rolls around to face the share-holders, who’s only concern is dividends.

    Western ideas think of Buddha as a person, because they cannot grasped what he preached applies to everyone (including himself). The quest is for each of us to do his/her part, in whatever little capacity, to be examples of these valuable attributes.

    In the end, Buddha would use his ultimate wisdom and put someone else in charge.

  8. May all mother sentient beings, boundless as the sky have happiness and the causes of happiness.
    May they be free of suffering and the causes of suffering.
    May they never be separated from the happiness which is free from sorrow.
    May they rest in equanimity, free from attachment and aversion.

    One of my favorite prayers. So beautifully brought to life in your work and your post. I’m so grateful for the way you carry this into every aspect of your life (wedding ring!!!) and how you share that with all of us.

  9. Ivan Walsh says:

    You also have to forgive yourself for your mistakes.

    For most of us, that’s the hardest hurdle to overcome.

    Ivan

  10. Absolutely exceptional post. Thank you so much for writing this.

  11. Jon Giganti says:

    These principles will take you great places in years to come if you can incorporate them into your life. The business world needs more of this. I’m reading Delivering Happiness (by Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh) and a lot of these come into play. Great post!

  12. What a wonderful post I stumbled across here. It’s my goal to help personalize small businesses in my community and these 4 Immeasurables apply as much to small business owners as we hope they could to CEO’s. Removing the separation between who we are as people and what we do for a living is the key to elevating our spiritual selves and building stronger communities. Thank you for sharing these invaluable lessons with me today.

    I look forward to returning for many more…

  13. dave r. says:

    great words and thoughts to live by….thanks for the post

  14. Paula G says:

    Not utopian, but fundamental. When you walk your path in life and business with these guiding principles, you naturally will have more success and make the world a better place. It is a natural byproduct. By going within as the start of all your actions, you find wisdom. Asking yourself – what quality of being do I want to be in this moment, interaction, relationship, situation makes all the difference in experience and outcome.

    Love the fine way you have articulated all this.

  15. Sean Low says:

    Really fantastic post Jonathan. What is amazing to me is that people think that “woowoo” and good business are incompatible. Such a neolithic way to be. Having toddlers and thinking back to your post on children’s books, fascinating how almost every animated movie ever made, especially recent ones, that has been a huge hit focuses on the power of collaboration — Toy Story, Cars, Ratatouille, etc. — and celebrating the four immeasurables. It is what we all seek and know in our beings is the very way to success. Better to stand on the shoulders of giants with their guidance, and, I dare say, love than be Yertle the Turtle.

  16. Hi Jonathan,

    Fantastic post and I love the concept. Yes, I believe that a business based on these four immeasurable principles would be well worth pursuing, if only as a means of challenging that ego-driven voice within that says, “It’ll never work!”.

    I have long been a proponent of the idea that we are all each others’ equals and teachers at the most essential level. Open mind, open heart, can’t lose! (OK, admittedly an adaptation of the “Friday Night Lights” mantra!)

    Best wishes,

    Peter

  17. Dan Perez says:

    Jonathan,
    Unfortunately, it appears every time I’m led to your blog posts I tend to disagree – such is the case here. We tend to wish impossible things sometimes and your examples here just don’t add up for me. Let’s take a look at them through my eyes:

    Loving-kindness: Yes, it’s way too woowoo for serious business. Why? Because winning in business *is* about dominating your competition; your market (Apple, anyone?). There’s nothing wrong with that. Furthermore, it forces your competition to raise their game which ultimately benefits the consumers. The only ships we should raise are the ones that benefit our companies, our employees and our (their) families.

    Compassion: Not quite sure what your point was here as successful entrepreneurs/salespeople should always place themselves in the roles of their counterparts/prospects/customers to create win-win outcomes. Is this compassion? I prefer calling it having “vision”.

    Appreciative Joy: We should all enjoy this feeling when those around us experience success & accomplishment. As for our competitors, they’re our competitors, yes? Our goal should never be to “beat” them but to improve our product/service to the point that the consumer chooses ours more than theirs.

    Equanimity: Here I agree with you somewhat. We can learn from anyone; we should always keep our minds open to that possibility. As for the “biochemical/spiritual sense of uplift to be triggered not only via increases in relative status and connectedness”, I’ll leave that to the likes of Buddha and the Dalai Lama – who would have made awful CEOs ;-)

    Just me two cents…

    • Hi Dan,

      Nice to look at this from your eyes. I would like to offer another perspective as well, which is about competition versus collaboration. The traditional business world is obviously based on competition. Like you said, it doesn’t have to be about beating them, but still you want to be better than them.

      A business model can however be based on collaboration. A nice example is the business model of seats2meet.com. The other businesses that you would normally compete with are your partners with the goal to offer the customer the best possible value. Every business involved can focus on that part of the value creation process they’re good at. By doing so, the effort that is usually spent to be (a little bit) better than your competitor, can now be used for the benefit of the customer. So, it’s a so-called blue ocean strategy (enlarging the pie by working together) instead of a red ocean strategy (getting a bigger piece of the pie through competing). More and more of these so-called disruptive business models are emerging.

      I also would like to add my 2 cents to the difference between ‘vision’ and ‘compassion’. Vision is like you said: ‘place themselves in the roles of their counterparts/prospects/customers to create win-win outcomes.’ And in many cases, having a vision for your customer based on what they need and want is good enough.

      Compassion goes a level deeper. It’s about placing yourself in the shoes of your customer as another human. You try to understand how they understand the world on top of understanding their business problem. Actually, there is a nice visual tool for doing this. It’s called the Empathy Map, created by XPLANE.

      • Dan Perez says:

        Roland,
        There are perhaps dozens of different business models. Collaboration works best when all parties bring a unique product/service together to create a better “whole”. Ultimately, it’s goal is to offer a better product/service to the consumer and minimize “competition” (there’s that word again!)

        As for compassion, it sounds nice but I don’t find it necessary to be successful – creating a win-win outcome should be goal enough. Let’s leave compassion for the homeless, needy, and less fortunate – there never seems to be enough of that to go around anyway, yes?

        Thanks for your comment :)

    • Sean Low says:

      Hi Dan:

      Have to say that I love how you have framed your counter-argument to Jonathan’s post. Really a testament to the forum he has created. Respectful disagreement is primordial goo to me. I do have a different view. As a creative business, no one can do what you do. You are iconic. In that mindset, loving-kindness is wishing that your competition find clients that respect, even thirst for their work as yours do yours. Some of the greatest collaborations often happen between those who should be competitors. Joy — I hear you about making your product as good as it can be, but I think there is more than enough to go around. You mention Apple, they do want to dominate, yes, but it is not as if the Droid is sucking wind. Great stuff should always find a home if it is meant to. I can leave equanimity to the Buddha and The Dalai Lama too, but the idea that we are all a collective and the deeper we connect to it, the stronger the collective is is a concept that I really embrace. Thanks again for a terrific counter-argument.

      • Dan Perez says:

        Sean,
        As for the mindset of competition vs collaboration, my focus has always been (and will always be) to make my service the best choice for my prospects; to make it better than my competitors. That takes a lot of time and hard work, I want it to be worth it. There’s enough business for everybody out there – those who work harder (smarter), get the bigger share (as it should be).

        As to your point about Apple, their market domination led to the creation of the Droid. It’s like I said in my original comment: “it forces your competition to raise their game which ultimately benefits the consumers”. More choices are always good for the consumer, yes?

        Thanks for your comment – glad to be a part of the discussion :)

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Dan – Love your contribution and, as you suspected, couldn’t disagree more. LOL.

      A large part of it is about how we likely each define success. To me, dominating has nothing to do with it. While that’s the approach that’s been taught at many b-schools for decades, many highly “successful” grads from those programs and even leading professors have changed their tunes in a major way.

      Dominating isn’t the same thing as succeeding or winning. In a zero sum game, it may get you a bigger slice of the pie, but many people end up with that bigger slice and are still left empty.

      On a 4 immeasurables based approach being a failing strategy, it’s just not true. I actually know two people who built $100 million businesses that appeared to “dominate” their competition by drawing largely upon the above principles in two of the most competitive, cut-throat markets in the world. And they weren’t driven by what the competition was up to.

      Success, the way I define it, isn’t all about bigger slices…it’s about bigger pies (damn, now I’m hungry). Finding ways to move from zero sum to zillion sum. That’s why I added that line about MMA. There seem to be a small number of pure zero-sum games, like boxing or cage matches. But truth is, that’s not even true. What appear to be two person zero sum games from the outside are actually anything but. There’s something much bigger going on, a hidden competitor that nobody else sees.

      But your comments actually tie really well into a bigger post I’m working on about competition and success right now, so let’s have this bigger conversation shortly once that post it up.

      • Dan Perez says:

        Jonathan,
        Success is always going to be defined differently depending on who you ask. For some, success means having a roof over their head and food on the table. To others, it’s about making a million dollars a year, owning a Bentley and dating a supermodel.

        There are those that achieved their successes by following the principles you outlined above and others who achieved their successes disregarding them completely (I know several of them here from my days in NYC and here in Miami). It’s foolish to assume that those who achieved their success through dominating the competition have an empty feeling inside; remorse. In contrast, there are many entrepreneurs who failed miserably executing a business strategy built around love, joy, compassion and equanimity (I know several of them as well). Ultimately, the results will determine whether our present strategy is working or needs to be replaced.

        There’s no right or wrong here – just two different views. That’s what makes blogging fun to some and terrifying to others – a contrarian opinion. Glad I could always disagree with you peacefully :-)

        Looking forward to your upcoming post…I think.

  18. If there isn’t a book on this, there should be.

  19. A vitally important discussion you brought up Jonathan. The current economic mess and the shrinking middle class is the result of winner take all greed. Adam Smith’s “invisible hand’ of enlightened self-interest hardly exists. Corporations are cutting their own throats by overworking and underpaying their employees and destroying the environment and people’s health.
    The world is sitting on a powder keg of problems about to explode. Unless we start working together with greater awareness, we will not survive as a species. We have maybe 30 years at most to really turn things around. Conscious business is no longer a choice, it’s a necessity.

  20. I DO believe this! I am so very pleased whenever I read your thoughts! YES! What an incredible life for us all, what a world…. Ok, me? I DO believe this, although I didn’t have a clue what it meant (as you explained), I thought it was only me, having faced EXACTLY what the “end” can look like and a promise I made with all my heart to wake up (!) and live right. #2 is my biggest downfall, personally. It isn’t that I cannot put myself there, or at the very least try~ but my issues arise when I do and succeed – and really do not like what I feel – what do I do then? And besides, it’s funny you should mention this, as I have heard it my entire life (I earned it long before I woke up!) “[MMA Alert - This approach might not work so well if you're a cage-fighter]“- I am not sure what MMA is! The rest I get loud and clear!
    ~Amber-Lee

  21. Beth Huntley says:

    Fantastic “pearls” of wisdom for life, love and business. Thanks for reminding us, Jonathan!

  22. [...] Someone recently introduced me to Jonathan’s blog and I just love his approach to his personal and professional life…This is his most recent post and I thought maybe you might enjoy reading it… “If Buddha Was CEO: The Four Immeasurables in Business” [...]

  23. Great and timely post Jonathan! As Richard noted above, a conscious approach to business is a necessity for our planet to survive given the state of the world today!

  24. [...] post, If Buddha Was CEO: The Four Immeasurables in Business, is [...]

  25. Mary Jane says:

    Jonathan,

    Thank you for your beautiful thoughts!

    The world is so filled with greed and fear, how timely and refreshing!

    If we are to survive, there has to be a turning away from “business as usual” and “the cost of doing business” mentality.

  26. Jonathan.

    Your post helps turn the tide in the business and corporate world. I use the concept of wholeness, which Buddhism and other wisdom traditions, contribute. Wholeness in an organization, wholeness in teams, wholeness as humans — this means that we don’t need to live an divided life but can walk forward on an undivided journey in our lives.

    After years of studying teams, the evidence indicates that team relations (kindness, positive environment, respect) actually contribute toward team effectiveness (performance, quality, efficiency).

    I know some call these concepts as “woo-woo” but I deeply believe that we can connect human wholeness and the workplace and we and the world will be better off for it.

    Thanks.

  27. Jonathan,

    Very wise words to remember and just think if we all would live and treat each other this way. Life as we know it would completely change for the better.

  28. Wow. Dear God I hope it’s not just some utopian fantasy because it sounds so good I love it and I want it! I have been looking at these principles for the last year or so…working on being genuinely happy for others in their successes, (which requires me to not see myself as I size everyone up based on some arbitrary ranking system in my head, and then determine where to place myself within the ranking and then automatically treat everyone or think about them according to how I have ranked them in comparison to me. The other day I decided to practice one of Tolle’s power of now assignments to just sit for 5 minutes and not judge anything but just notice. When the homeless lady walked by I noticed all my judgments that I had never known I had. and then I let them go by simply observing everything about her without judgment. It brought me into the present (as is the point of the exercise) and suspended all my judgment– it reminded me of Byron Katie’s question… who would you be without that thought/story? I absolutely love this article. I think it is the best one I have read. In honor of being the change I wish to see today I will look for and be open to an opportunity to give instead of take, and to see someone else’s triumph as a triumph for all. Thanks for the stirring.
    P.S. I happen to be reading The Happiness project as we speak and planning to organize a local Happiness project!

  29. Mark Freddy Farrell says:

    I here the word, “Community” being said in a Few of the comments. We are all connected in some way, and should strive to support and encourage Growth in all aspects of work and Play. – Keep it Simple, as Gordon Livingston says in his Book, “And Never Stop Dancing” You need
    3 things in Life, Something to Do, Someone to Love, and Something to Look forward to. We are all here to Show Compassion and to Help others. Bring all this into your Life and your Business, and you have “Community”.

    Cheers,

    Mark Freddy Farrell.

  30. Rama Ganesan says:

    I have been thinking that ‘Western-style’ business and consumerism is diametrically opposed to the practice of mindfulness. I am amazed at the amount of agreement in the responses to the original post.

  31. JohnB says:

    Enjoyed the post and the comments from everyone. I know lots of people who have been very “successful” in the standard “dominate to win” model… It works. At a certain point in ones life I guess some start to wonder if it’s possible to build something else, to come from a different center and create a sense of community while doing something good. I’m a developer and open-source software is a good example of this. However, most open-source projects (with rare and notable exceptions) are not what you’d call profitable… However, a large percentage of really good ones provide a living for the people who built them… Not a Bentley/Supermodel living, but a good living… There may be a secret in there somewhere…

    I just wanted to mention that another avenue exists, and that is to give time and energy to a community that does support these values – where success is defined almost entirely in terms of how many people are helped (or enjoy using the product)… I sometimes think that the open-source movement is a subtle, virus-like movement in this direction – which will have unforeseen, positive repercussions in the coming decades…

    I think that hard-driving “for profit only” will stay with us too, and it’s not an either-or question…

  32. [...] LaPorte and Jonathan Fields each wrote a brilliant post today.  Danielle’s was on moving towards, not denying, our [...]

  33. Shikha says:

    Success , by virtue of its definition, sets an expectation. And the kind of expectation it sets , wholely and solely depends on the ‘hopeful’ person in question. It might span from earning ‘dollars’ to ‘dreams’….

    In the same vein, Business by virtue of its umpteen definitions, sets an expectation of ‘success’, and there is a high percentage of a definite expectation of ‘dollars’ in any given business, or else I wouldn’t understand why you’d be in the market. More often than not, and as all the prior comments show, ‘success in business’is quoted in terms of dollars :)

    Combining the two- a.k.a. Successful Business , makes me skeptic to think how far can I go in thinking for the other person wherein I break even with being the do-gooder as well as paying my bills+saving for future. Don’t get me wrong- I am Hindu in my background and avid reader of buddhist philosophy born in a Business family but nowhere in our way of life have we been taught to lose business because your customer cannot pay you for the services rendered (not saying you avenge it or anything)…

    In my view, if Buddha was CEO, I think he would run a peaceful community not a business.. Why I say this? I say this because his life began and ended in renunciation of wordliness. Yes I have not forgotten that Buddha should not strictly be looked upon as a human form but an embodiment of principles, but one cannot ignore some powerful facts of a great man. And I say this because the concept of Business begins and ends with ‘worldly desires’.

    And this makes me think Gautam Budhha, born as a prince, who failed to find any interest in running a kingdom -let alone businesses, would happily step down from the post of CEO the day he was voted to be one.

    To conclude, I would say that a lot of Buddhist principles can be applied successfully in a lot of ways towards running the cause of a successful business, however I beg to differ with the idea of 100% crystal clear Budhha being able to cope with the brutality of business and its vicious politics of today’s world… :)

  34. Yes, it is a viable option. I am teaching my children to be peaceful CFOs. Check out my article: http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/be-a-peaceful-cfo-of-your-home/#more-6168

  35. Jonathan,
    You are basically saying that the world would be a different place if we were not motivated by fear. I like that. Now, where did I put my chill pills?

  36. laura says:

    This is a wonderful post and an awesome conversation in the comments section. I love to see people discussing it. In my own small business (art and meditation-related, not a plug but it’s relevant to the discussion) I try to live by these principles.

    It’s worked well for me and it’s the only way I could do business.

    Still, sometimes you have to think of putting your own costs into the picture. Practical things (not giving away product all the time, being sensible about a return policy that benefits both oneself and the customer) can’t be ignored.

    Buddhists who ignore practical matters and profit structures might end up more in debt than supported by their businesses.

    I liked the comments way above by people who’d worked in Buddhist organizations. So important.

    Peace!

  37. [...] “If Buddha Was CEO: The Four Immeasurables in Business” [...]