For almost twenty years I've been drawn to the notion that true leadership in business is about the transformation of consciousness. In writing a Ph.D. around this subject, I found a great deal of literature exploring this topic and related subjects such as developmental psychology, transpersonal psychology, leadership studies and transformative learning. The complexity of all of this could seem overwhelming, yet somehow I knew there must be a simplicity on the other side of it.
On a long flight I took recently I read through Turak's Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks. In it I found readable stories linked to principles that touched me to the core. More than that, they inspired me to tell colleagues that this is how I wanted us to run our new business. It is all well and good to talk about being purpose driven, yet it demands putting those aspirations into practice. This book is a treasure trove of how this can be done.
Out of all that I found useful in the book, three things stood out for me as representing essential distillations of the most important things I had learned from my own experience and doing my Ph.D. The first is that the core business of the Trappist monks of Mepkin Abbey is service and selflessness. While much is written about servant leadership, the more profound meaning of this orientation only becomes apparent when you hear the stories of how the monks gave of themselves in ways that inspire the best of being human.
The second thing that stood out for me was detachment. It is set as the antidote for identification, which is easy to get caught up in. How often do we identify with our accomplishments, role, position or even sense of power? All of these limit our ability to lead and to inspire performance in others. Detachment becomes the principle to generate the selflessness described above. It takes us out of our identifications, our limitations; the myths that trap us firmly in their clutches. Detachment brings freedom to inspire and lead by serving a higher purpose.
The third thing is about the transformation of being. While transformations of condition and circumstance can be motivators for performance, they cannot match the power that transformation of being brings to generating business performance. Whether conscious of it or not, we all crave a sense of meaning in our lives and in our work. Given the opportunity to have our work touch the core of our being, we can be inspired to perform well beyond what the call of duty or a paycheck can provide.
Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks is a gem, showing us the path of authenticity so much sought after in leadership today. Listen deeply and let the lessons between the lines seep into your soul.