I had the privilege to attend a day-long workshop recently with Marc Lesser sharing ideas from his latest book, Seven Practices of a Mindful Leader. Lesser is a Zen teacher, former CEO of multiple companies and co-founder of Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute – based on a program he helped develop to better train employees at Google in emotional intelligence.
The small and eclectic group gathered at the Austin Zen Center to talk through the seven practices:
- Love the Work
- Do the Work
- Don’t Be an Expert
- Connect to Your Pain
- Connect to the Pain of Others
- Depend on Others
- Keep Making in Simpler
As with most valuable frameworks, it allows us to think through each idea as more than just the role we play in a particular setting. These seven practices in particular also highlight a focus on doing less, looking inward, and integration. The idea that we can be someone at work and someone else outside of work is an unsustainable practice and Lesser reminds us of this non-duality throughout his book and the workshop.
So, over the next seven weeks I am going to dive deeper into the learning experience and publish a post each Thursday morning focusing on one of the practices. Think about picking up a copy of your own and sharing your thoughts each week in the comments.
Lesser opened our workshop by paring us up and asking each other two questions:
- Why are you here?
- Why are you really here?
Two simple questions, but a quick and effective way to bring an audience into a state of presence.
I’ll share that I answered the first question by saying I was there to become a better leader of my team at work. But, then the answer to the second question revealed that I was “really” there because like so many others I’m sometimes caught in a loop of seeking. There is always something new to learn or try and it’s easy to get lost in thinking something better is waiting around the corner.
Endless seeking clouds our ability to find. Near the end of the workshop, Lesser reminded us of Siddhartha’s advice to his boyhood friend, Govinda, in Hesse’s classic story.
What could I say to you that would be of value, except that perhaps you seek too much, that as a result of your seeking you cannot find.”
I’ve been to more leadership workshops than I can count throughout my career. And I usually leave them excited to try something new or am reminded about something I should be doing. Lesser and his 7 Practices left me feeling differently – in a good way. And I’m looking forward to sharing those feelings with all of you over the next seven weeks.