Rohit Bassi

Jun 21, 2021

LEADERSHIP WALK THE EIGHTFOLD PATH


Mindfulness is becoming very popular in the leadership fraternity. Unfortunately, for most leaders, it is just a fashion and fad statement. They only speak about it but are not living it, this can clearly be seen through their communication and actions.

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Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present, being aware of where you are and what you are doing and no matter what the circumstances to be aware of your body, thoughts, feelings and mind without judgment.

Mindfulness allows you to win the hearts of people because you learn to deal with their true feelings. Developing one's mind is the path to wisdom which, in turn, leads to personal freedom. It helps in mental and emotional development thus strengthens your mind.

Mindfulness requires training, learning and development in the three essentials aspects: (a) Wisdom (b) Ethics (c) Discipline. In this manner, making you mindful to kindle courage, clarity, conviction and compassion in any situation by walking the eightfold path.

1. Right View

Developing leadership communication through mindfulness requires you to walk the eightfold path. The path begins with RIGHT VIEW and is about knowing the event as it really is, not how you think or want it to be. RIGHT VIEW is not about you or the other person being right or wrong. The focus is about getting to the reality of the event.

RIGHT VIEW involves deep-diving into how you truly communicate with yourself and others. That means examining how you take information from the outside world and process it within. Your internal representation of the event affects your thoughts, feelings and behaviours towards the event.

Internal representation is created through filters of deletion, distortion and generalisation. What you actually delete, distort and generalise depends on your beliefs, language, decisions, values, memories and conditioning.

You have dreams and baggage that impacts your communication with yourself and others. When you learn to drop these, you are in RIGHT VIEW, you see the event as it really is. This gives you the opportunity to stop being judgmental and egoistic. Instead, you develop the sense of being versatile, flexible and adaptable.

 RIGHT VIEW is about being honest with yourself about what you are seeing, hearing, and feeling. To get to RIGHT VIEW involves discovering and knowing what is causing the misunderstanding/problem. When you are not in RIGHT VIEW it creates discrimination, hate and fear.

2. Right Intention

Leadership involves dealing with your own and others raw emotions. Reminder, leadership is not a title or a role. Everyone is a leader and a follower. Your communication matters in taking care of your and other people’s emotions.

It needs to be noted that even though “right view” is the start of the path in developing your mindful leadership communication and at the same time all the eight views are not linear instead interplay, interconnect and are interwoven with each other.

When you have “right view”, you are clear, knowing the event as it really is, not how you think or want it to be which makes it easier to have “RIGHT INTENTION”. Your Intentions are the drivers of actions. The word intention means to do something that you want and plan to do (an aim). That would mean to avoid heavy thoughts of fear, doubt and hatred. Such thoughts lead to being harmful to yourself and others.

Acts of gossiping, undermining someone to get your own way, violence or being in a state of fear are all harmful thus cannot be RIGHT INTENTION. These are unwholesome acts. Intentions governed by obsessing over desires are not RIGHT INTENTION. RIGHT INTENTION is wholesome acts that promote physical, mental and emotional well-being.

There are times we unintentional harm others or ourselves as we are not clear, mislead or missed out on something to get to “right view”. Thus, with RIGHT INTENTION it important to do your best to least harm anyone and focus on physical, mental and emotional well-being. The intention to not cause pain, loss, or destruction to any sentient being, humans and non-human animals included.

3. Right Speech

Across the globe, most leaders speak in unimaginable ways. There are plenty of examples of speech used to inflame disturbing abomination for violence, to separate people into sectarian and ideological tribes. Very few speak which leads to peace and harmony.

People justify harsh speech because they believe they are speaking on behalf of a worthy cause. Ultimately, stirring up animosity, acrimony and anger is planting painful suffering seeds that hurts and leads to physical, mental and emotional abuse/violence.

The practice of RIGHT SPEECH or virtuous speech, win’s hearts and minds. It creates a strong and rational connection with the listener. You speak to interact politely, respectfully and inoffensively. That would require you to refrain from lying, hostile, harsh and meaningless speech.

 Your words, voice and non-verbals could either nourish or poison oneself and others. As we speak to communicate RIGHT SPEECH requires a commitment to extraordinary awareness, consciousness and energy to the choice of words, the use of voice and non-verbal communication. 

 Thus, RIGHT SPEECH offers you the freedom and opportunity to choose what to say, and how to say it. That would mean stopping your gossip, being abusive through your words, voice and non-verbals. Being non-aggressive with especially when others have made a mistake. In this manner with greater ease, you recognise what you are about to say before you say it.

4. Right Action

Leadership is not a walk in the park. As a leader, every action needs to be thought upon as it could have a positive or negative impact on themselves and others. In other word’s RIGHT ACTION is the attitude and behaviour in helping that does not result in harmfulness.

In essence RIGHT ACTION requires you as a leader to carefully examine one’s own attitude and behaviour towards themselves and others. That would be mean returning to “right view”, “right intention” and “right speech”.

Knowingly or unknowingly wrong actions by leaders from around the world have led to damaging environmental issues, warfare that is massacred billions of lives, the extinction of sentient beings and much more. Such unwholesome acts stem from being unaware or unclear on “right view”, “right intention” and “right speech”.

RIGHT ACTION encompasses wisdom, respect, sustainability and development does not result in harmfulness. Wisdom would entail being open-minded, unbiased view thus tolerance for other's beliefs, opinions, ideas, and ways of life. Respect regardless of nationality, gender, status or religion, respect to all sentient beings. Sustainability in terms of avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance. Development involving investing in everyone’s welfare, knowledge and capabilities that leads towards greater dividends for individuals, families and society.

RIGHT ACTION is building bridges amongst each other through trust, transparency and tenacity.

5. Right Livelihood

Leadership actions have implications for themselves and others. Toxic leadership intentionally harms and exploits others. While true leadership means empowering, encouraging and entrusting followers towards the wholesome direction.

Therefore, RIGHT LIVELIHOOD is all about earning one's living in a righteous way. That would mean the acquisition of wealth is carried out in a legal, ethical and peacefully manner. RIGHT LIVELIHOOD is carried out without abuse, violence, trickery or deceit.

Honesty matters and the work you do should not entail harm to others. That would mean not to harm the environment, people, future generations existence and sentient beings. A true leader guides others towards wholesome goals and objectives which benefit everyone.

RIGHT LIVELIHOOD views earning money as being wholesome. It requires one to be in a space of collaboration, not competition. Although, if it happens at the expense of others that it harms, exploits or violates them then that certainly is not a righteous way of earning a livelihood.

Thus, RIGHT LIVELIHOOD requires one to be courageous as you go through rough and tough lessons and experience setbacks that make you feel like a failure. That would be mean returning to “right view”, “right intention”, “right speech” and “right action” to heighten your awareness for RIGHT LIVELIHOOD.

6. Right Effort

RIGHT EFFORT is critical in the progress of being an outstanding leader or follower. Yes, you need to return to “right view”, “right intention”, “right speech”, “right action” and “right livelihood”. It would mean to learn to relinquish unwholesome acts, unskillful ways and unwanted thoughts. You learn to focus upon cultivating wholesome acts, skilful ways and wanted thoughts.

RIGHT EFFORT starts within the mind. It is not about a fixed mindset, growth mindset or any kind of mindset. The focus is to have a "mind-flow". Mind-flow is like water. The fluid nature of “mind-flow” is incredibly powerful as when navigated in the right direction allows you to be constructive and productive.

It is about developing a knowing of removing the weeds of unwholesome acts, unskillful ways and unwanted thoughts. They bring wreak havoc, negativity, pessimism, criticism, limiting beliefs, doubt, fear, exploitation, violence or abuse into one’s and other lives.

RIGHT EFFORT like a great gardener knows weeds grow uninvited, they thrive even without care and no matter what time of the year they will grow. Such is the nature of unwholesome acts, unskillful ways and unwanted thoughts. Like a garden, you learn to remove these weeds. With care, you water and nurture the wholesome acts, skilful ways and wanted thoughts.

RIGHT EFFORT is knowing when your mind is either a friend or a foe. Thus, steering it towards being your greatest friend. Peace begins with you.

7. Right Mindfulness

To be mindful is to be fully present. Those leaders who talk about multitasking unfortunately are not mindful. Multitasking is simple science would mean to equally split (with the same quality) your focus between several things at the same time. This is not possible.

Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present, being aware of where you are and what you are doing and no matter what the circumstances to be aware of your body, thoughts, feelings and mind without judgment.

When you are lost in anticipation, indulgences, or worry that is not mindful. Holding on to the bitterness of rejection, resentment and regret is neither mindfulness. Thus, you have opened the gateway to unwholesome acts, unskillful ways and unwanted thoughts.

RIGHT MINDFULNESS means observing and cleaning your belief system. Yes, this a tough one as cleaning would involve especially removing those sticky mental and emotional habits and judgments that lead to escalating unwholesome acts, unskillful ways and unwanted thoughts.

RIGHT MINDFULNESS requires you to be fully attentive to everything as-it-is and stop filtering through your emotional, mental or physical ways. Harming, violating or abusing yourself or others certainly is not RIGHT MINDFULNESS practice.

RIGHT MINDFULNESS is carried throughout your every living moment. It is not just about taking the time out to meditate. It includes being mindful when you speak, think, eat or walk. Every interaction, activity and engagement require you to practice RIGHT MINDFULNESS.

8. Right Concentration

The pendulum swings back and forth. Most people in a leadership role behave in such a manner. They swing from passive to aggressive or aggressive to passive. A minority of leaders have a great ability to stay steady in the middle, the assertive swing or the middle way.

When you are in a state of RIGHT CONCENTRATION there is high awareness that nothing is permanent (impermanence), everything is continuously changing and for every effect, there is a cause. It involves remaining steady in the face of challenges, social pressure or adversities. They maintain one’s true self and values.

At the same time, RIGHT CONCENTRATION involves being versatile, flexible and adaptable because they are clear on not harming, violating or abusing anyone. The act of RIGHT CONCENTRATION requires focus, attention, awareness and breath. 

Yes, you correct in thinking that RIGHT CONECTRATION is required for “right view”, “right intention”, “right speech”, “right action”, “right livelihood”, “right effort” and “right mindfulness”. Thus, encompasses helping strengthen the mind mentally and emotionally towards wholesome acts, skilful ways and wanted thoughts.

For most RIGHT CONCENTRATION is difficult because the mind wanders. Failure, again and again, is part of the learning and development process. Yes, many of the learning are expensive and painful ones.

That would mean RIGHT CONCENTRATION is about to stop being self-critical but take the path of self-compassion. Remember breath is the anchor of the mind that stops it from wandering.

To conclude the only way to gain insight into developing leadership through mindfulness is to experience it. It is of no use merely to write, read or lecture about mindfulness but rather practice it. Thus "Leadership Walk The Path" is about living it in peace, serenity and on a daily basis.

Written by:

Rohit Bassi

Jun 21, 2021

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