Increasingly I find it easy to swing on an emotional pendulum from ‘angry-frustration’ to ‘inspiring-hope’ and back again. Something I get angry about are the corporate working conditions that inflame our stress and dampen our performance are much worse now than they were when I started my work 30 years ago (1984).
I am angry that most leaders lead from fear rather than vision.
I am angry the sum total of all the bad things powerful people have decreed on the masses…slavery-genocide-war-exploitation…are as prevalent today as they were at the dawn of history. I am angry because Hard Power leaders have made all the rules that matter since we became conscious. And hard power, which is the institutionalization of self-interest, will never lead a better future. You may be surprised at this, but even my deeper look into Buddhism makes me mad because it takes for granted that men are more advanced souls than women…otherwise they say…why would women be so powerless? Grrrr.
Hard power “logic” is always self-serving and always asserted with arrogant and endless confidence. But it’s ultimately self-destructive. There will never be a war to end all wars unless it’s a war to end all human life. You see, hard power thinking is like a dog chasing its tail. Training the dog to run faster and feeding it better food doesn’t accomplish anything except a more frustrated dog. And yet Soft Power, the power rooted in empathy and compassion is no match for hard power.
Leaders of companies and nations have experimented with it but ultimately it devolves into a hippy commune and collapses in exhaustion…whimpering for consensus while realty overwhelms good intentions.
The new answer is the old answer. It’s the only answer.
It’s the wisdom of balance. Yin and Yang. The harmony of empathy and discipline. Freedom and responsibility. Empowerment and accountability. Innovation and execution. Vision and the bottom line…Your head is in the clouds and your feet on the ground…that’s Smart Power. I know, it’s obvious. Yet it is rarely practiced. We need to change that.
It all starts with our inner voice.
The one that is telling us what our higher goals should be. And the one that makes up excuses to justify abandoning them when we are tested by disappointment. It’s that inner voice. Yesterday we had lunch with a Smart Power 30-year-old Tibetan women. She was married to a selfish, unfaithful, violent man. She demanded a divorce, which is very unusual in her culture. She learned English so she could become an effective importer wholesaler. Then she asked her parents to select a new husband since she had not used the correct criteria for her first choice. When a marriage partner she approved of was found she informed him he would stay home and raise the children while she built her business.
She said men cannot work outside the home and remain faithful. She said “There are too many desperate women who wish to steal husbands so he must stay home where temptations are minimal.” Our new friend is a tiny, sweet compassionate woman who loves her family. Her work isn’t driven by her personal ego but from a vision for her family’s best future. I am not suggesting all women should work and keep their over-sexed husbands locked up. Rather I am admiring the strength of a Smart Power woman who cares enough about her future to take charge of it. So how about you?
Are you driven by goals at the expense of compassion?
Or are you driven by peace-making while your dreams melt away. What’s the Smart Power balance you need right now? If our seemingly powerless Tibetan friend can re- invent her life, so can you.