Mingyur Rinpoche at the Awareness Leadership Workshop. Image courtesy of Tergar Asia
Tergar Asia, the Asian chapter of the Tergar Meditation Community, an international Buddhist community that operates under the guidance of Nepal-born meditation master Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, held a weekend-long workshop in Hong Kong on 7–8 October under the theme Awareness Leadership: Master Your Mind, Master Your Success. The conference was organized with the objective of promoting Buddhist concepts of effective leadership based on the cultivation of awareness, compassion, and wisdom.
Alongside Minyur Rinpoche himself, keynote speakers for the high-profile event included professor of psychology and psychiatry Richard Davidson, author and science journalist Dr. Daniel Goleman, and award-winning movie star and Buddhist Jet Li.
On the last weekend of what in China is known as Golden Week (a national holiday week that includes several public holidays, such as the mid-autumn festival and China’s National Day), participants from China, Hong Kong, and elsewhere in Asia gathered for a weekend of spiritual inspiration and the exploration of the intersection between leadership, science, and the mind, under the umbrella of compassion, and awareness. As the event announcement noted: “Leadership through the use of fear and domination is outdated!” And indeed there seems to be substantial spiritual and scientific evidence that good leadership should, above all, be founded on an understanding of compassion and awareness. Rather than the traditional figure of a ruthless, demanding, results-motivated leader, today's business leaders must learn that the sustainable path to success needs to be founded upon kindness and compassion—leaders who will guide and nuture their teams and organizations in their growth. As Mingyur Rinpoche, observed: what the world is most in need of is “good, strong leaders,” with the emphasis on “good.” But how do we become “good, strong leaders?” According to the event last weekend, mindfulness is key to unlocking our full leadership potential.
Mingyur Rinpoche speaking at the Awareness Leadership Workshop. Image courtesy of Tergar Asia
Group photo of all the participants on the second day of the workshop. Image courtesy of Tergar Asia
As described by Rinpoche in one of his workshop talks, the key component of any mindfulness exercise is awareness. Our awareness is always present, indeed we need it to live our lives, but during a meditation or mindfulness exercise, we can become aware of it—it is during this state that we can draw out and tame our “crazy monkey mind”—the internal monologue that characterizes our urges, doubts, and actions. We learn to “lead” ourselves by not giving in to our “crazy monkey mind.” As entrepreneur and Mind Reset Institute founder David Yeung noted in his address during the workshop, the word “awareness” also contains the word “war,” representing our ongoing struggle with our “crazy monkey mind.” Only by learning to lead ourselves can we learn to lead others, by looking beyond our own urges and become aware of the needs and concerns of others (compassion), whether it be a business partner, a colleague, or a team member.
Dr. Goleman, psychologist and “father of EQ,” reaffirmed this idea by emphasizing the role of this interpersonal understanding in a professional career. He explained that IQ and knowledge were not the only factors determining an individuals career success. Indeed, studies have shown that EQ, or emotional intelligence, is a better determinant of career success (twice as influential as IQ in university-level careers). And empathy and understanding lie at the foundation of emotional intelligence.
Prof. Richard Davidson speaking at the Leadership Workshop. Image courtesy of Tergar Asia
Jet Li speaking at the Leadership Workshop. Image courtesy of Tergar Asia
Prof. Davidson, a neuroscience pioneer who has extensively researched the effect of meditation on the mind, also emphasized the role of emotional intelligence and compassion in the business environment, noting that recent research suggests that there is an innate goodness in all people: from birth, babies seem to display a preference for altruistic solutions to problems, as opposed to learned selfish approaches. He went on to describe the four constituents of well-being, as evidenced by science: awareness, connection, insight, and purpose. All of these components can be trained by mindfulness and this training seems to have an measurable biological effect on the brain: mindfulness seems to graft/train neural pathways associated with well-being. The implication for leadership and the working environment of this manipulation of neural plasticity via mindfulness (the ability to train the brain) are, for instance, increased focus (even when focus has to switch back and forth between tasks, also known as multitasking), improved teamwork, improved perspective taking, decreased stress reactivity, and improved health.
The final keynote speaker of the event, world-famous martial artist and actor Jet Li, continued in a similar biological note, emphasizing the need for compassion by comparing the world to a body and all of the countries and continents as the organs, working together as one, stating that we must work in unity to sustain the health of this body. This premise of working together as a body forms the core of his One Foundation, an initiative that encourages everyone to contribute one dollar or one minute every month to help the planet and its people, as cells working together to sustain, heal, and improve the body of which they are all a part.
As the Golden Week holiday drew to a close, the event provided its participants with a new, Buddhism-inspired perspective on leadership and responsibility, hopefully encouraging all attendees to apply their newly gained knowledge to their own businesses, enterprises, and workplaces.
Buddhistdoor Global was a supporting organization for the leadership workshop, and had the opportunity to interview some of the high-profile speakers. Keep an eye out on our website and social media platforms in the weeks ahead for forthcoming interviews with Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, Prof. Richard Davidson, David Yeung, and one of China and Hollywood's most beloved action stars Jet Li.