10 Apr Kill the Buddha
For quite some time now I am getting to experience two apparently contradicting scenarios.
Seven out of ten people, with ten-plus years of work experience I meet, would like me to believe that they are passionate about making a difference to the lives of people.
And eight out of ten individual contributors I meet would like me to believe that they have manager-mentors who restrict their growth and performance.
When I scratch the surface I realize there isn’t any contradiction but a strong correlation.
It’s is extremely gratifying for the ego to see people looking up for guidance. And this egoistic need has led to a proliferation of home-grown, self-proclaimed masters – called by different names like mentors, coaches, guides, gurus and trainers. In their need (and often greed) to be worshiped by their proteges for their knowledge and expertise, they, most often unconsciously end up hooking on to the guided in a toxic co-depending relationship, leading to a sense of powerlessness. The Global Workforce Study (2007-2008) conducted by Towers & Perrin engagement, no wonder, relates the quality of leadership and learning to employee engagement, retention and performance.
This is an institutional reality. Look around. You will see it at workplace, in social circles and even in your own families. About institutions propagating cults of organized religion, lesser said the better.
Seth Godin, the author of famous bestseller Linchpin, advises employee-protégés in one of his recent blogs, “The opportunity of our age is to get out of this boss as teacher as taskmaster as limiter mindset. We need more from you than that.”
It’s a call to all. A call to come out of the minimalistic mindset of doing what pleases the immediate authority and seek self -mastery instead.
Self-mastery, as phrase explains itself, is becoming one’s own master. It’s a journey which starts with acknowledging that, as human beings, we are not left in lurch to learn how to live maximally. It’s about a faith in a guiding spirit which lives in each one of us to guide us to our destiny.
I remember when I started my career more than two decades ago, feeling lost in the corporate jungle I had approached my manager to guide / mentor me so that I have a smooth sailing. He did not respond directly but the next day came to my desk and handed me over a copy of this book “If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him”, by Sheldon Kopp. Kopp aptly summarizes the theme of his book in his quote, “A grown-up man can be no man’s disciple. The most important thing that each man must learn is that no one can teach him. Once he accepts this disappointment, he will be able to stop depending on … the guru who turns out to be just another struggling human being.”
That was the end of my search in the outside and beginning of my search in the inside – for a guru. I believe I have lived a fairly joyful career, a fulfilling life and a meaningful journey, thanks to not being gullible to fall to the designs of any self-proclaimed guru or teacher and held hostage for the rest of my life. I have lived a life of freedom and autonomy.
There has been tremendous learning from the class room of life. Even as I write, my consciousness makes me learn. And, the best part is that, whenever it has come to acquiring a skill or a competency I have always found a teacher at my door-step. Yes, it has been self-learning all the way.
What about you? Are you the sucker or the sucked? Either way there is salvation. Are you ready?