Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Simple Path to Practicing Compassionate Leadership

"Compassion, in Tibetan Terms, is a spontaneous feeling of connection to with all living things. What you feel; what I feel, you feel. There's no difference between us." Youngey Mingyur Rinpoche, The Joy of Living
Tibetan monk and teacher Youngey Mingyur Rinpoche uses a phrase in his book, The Joy of Living, that I can't forget. He basically points to acts of compassion as fostering an environment of "the survival of the kindest." While the phrase he speaks isn't about fostering a place where one person competes with another about who can be the kindest, it does capture the true nature of compassion, and this is the compassion we must find within ourselves as school leaders.

When times are particularly trying, and it seems much of everyone around us seems to want a part of us, it can be difficult to be compassionate. But in Buddhist terms, finding that compassion in difficult circumstances is really quite simple. It does take intention, but all we need do is pause and just see the other person. As Youngey Mingyur points out:
"The more we allow ourselves to be guided by compassion---to pause for a moment to try to see where another person is coming from---the less likely we are to engage in conflict."
We tell ourselves, "No, it can't be that simple!" But yet, compassion does truly begin with a pause, a reflection, and then a felt connection with the other person. It is that simple.

Today, when that parent, colleague or employee seems to want to pick a fight, you don't have to engage them in battle. You can avoid conflict by simply feeling compassion for them. Pause the moment you feel the tightness of anger take hold. Reflect for a moment on your truly wanting to be compassionate and understanding, and on the fact that the person in front of you only really wants what you want which is happiness. They have something that is a concern, and they think you can address that concern.That will make them happy. Then, you can clearly see that they are "Just like you." You too want to be happy.

"Compassion is the spontaneous wisdom of the heart," teaches Youngey Mingyur. He points out that compassion is always with us. It has always been inside us and will always be. All we need do today, is pause long enough to reflect and see others as just like us and be compassionate leaders.

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