Below is a short extract from an interview in Forbes Magazine with Deepak Chopra, a highly qualified Indian American physician who, over many years, has interlinked his science based training with a deeply spiritual outlook.
I personally used to feel that he was just another management guru presenting high level philosophical and spiritual ideas with little relationship to my everyday challenges. But as I have read more I have come to see that there a small gems in many things he says. I encourage you to read this and to find just once sentence, idea or phrase that resonates with you, and to focus on that this week.
None of us needs to throw in our jobs and join an ashram in Nepal to change the world. Just one small action/interaction can make all the difference…
Most people consider great leadership a skill of looking outward, but you seem to suggest it starts by looking inward.
Yes, in all my research, the greatest leaders looked inward and were able to tell a good story with authenticity and passion. They asked questions of themselves like what do I want, what’s my purpose and how do I make a difference? They reflect on these things. They are also very good storytellers. A good brand is a good story.
Why is the step of personal reflection often missed?
We are a society that is constantly bombarded by messages of instant gratification. Everybody is looking at quarterly reporters and then betting on them. We have conditioned ourselves to think short-term and not long-term. That requires you to look over your shoulder to see what the other guys are doing instead of saying, How can I be my best? One of our mantras is: Pursue excellence, ignore success–including that of others.
Few leadership books consider spirituality to be a leader’s asset.
There’s usually no mention of spirituality because people are afraid of what they think they are bringing in—religion or self-righteous morality. There’s not much of an understanding of what spirituality is. It’s a domain of awareness where we experience universal values. So yes, it’s been a missing component. The first thing I ask people in the course is, Do you think you have a soul? Almost everyone thinks they have a soul. But then I ask them, How do you define it? They don’t know.
The soul is a part of your consciousness that has meaning, wants to contribute, is purpose driven, seeks meaningful relationships and tries to understand creativity.
Are our current leaders leading without soul?
I’m also a senior scientist at Gallup, and we get polls from throughout the world. In the U.S., 25% of people in the workforce are engaged, which means they enjoy what they do. About 75% of the workforce is disengaged, and the cost is $380 billion a year. One of the fastest ways to change a business is to find ways to engage people emotionally.
Simple statistics: If your boss ignores you, your level of disengagement goes up by 45%. If your boss criticizes you, it goes down to 25%, because you’d rather be criticized than ignored. If your boss notices your strengths, your rate of disengagement goes down to less than 1%. How we treat people has huge economic implications and yet it’s totally ignored by leaders in the corporate world.
If someone wanted to be a better, more enlightened leader today, what are the first steps?
Look and listen. Take time to be quiet. Learn to use emotional intelligence to be in touch with your feelings and the feelings of others. Be aware by asking four questions: What am I observing? What am I feeling? What is the need? How do I fulfill the need? Be action-oriented. Good leaders are not philosophers. They are responsive to feedback and set goals. Be responsible for yourself. Get good sleep, exercise, don’t be stressed and eat wisely. If you are not physically or emotionally healthy, you are not going to be a good leader. Finally, understand what good luck is–preparedness and opportunity coming together. Good leaders look for opportunities instead of crises and problems.
Be Positive – Always.