Follow your work bliss

Two lovely books about reconciling making money and making meaning are worth noting. Next month the paperback version of The Art of Happiness at Work by none other than His Holiness the Dalai Lama comes out. Now, a cynic might argue that a more accurate title might be The Art of Happiness (at Work) since the book’s most powerful element deals with the heart of Buddhism, and the application to professional life feels like a stretch at times. Yet I recommend it, along with the excellent Good Business: Leadership, Flow, and the Making of Meaning by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. This lively text does a terrific job of connecting the challenges of individual enlightenment and well-being with corporate performance. A very humane and worthy book.

Here is a fun (i.e. meant to be funny) piece of mine that imagines what the journal of the Dalai Lama would be like if he actually had an office job. Call it Dilbert meets Boddhisatva, or simply HHDL@work:

Forget the dress code. For me its robe, robe, robe, robe, and then robe. I don’t care if its Casual Friday or Causal Friday. Dockers are Dukkha.

Today Ted down in office services gave me a hard time about producing new laminated name-plates and desk signs. Corporate policies limit the titles to 38 characters so I need to reduce—he says “redact”—something from my full name. He said that if Wozlowski could take the nickname Woz and Murphy dropped “executive” from his title, then surely there’s no reason I can’t shorten His Holiness the Dalai Lama Fourteenth Scion of Truth. (Try telling that to Avalokitesvara the Boddhisatva of Compassion.)
On the other hand, good news: he has secured HHDL for my email address, and, better yet, produced some nifty super-sticky labels for me. Now I can just slap that HHDL on my Swingline and cease my worries. So I’ve been putting HHDL everywhere—back of the Zire, the new picture phone, the rice bowl and teacup. Everywhere. Love those super-sticky labels.

A quiet moment in the copy center this morning. As I was Xerox©-ing the executive summary of the Capitated Damage Report Analysis a thought came to me: “there are 37 copies here…but they are all one.”

Yet another sales workshop today. Like most wasteful meetings, it grates on so many levels of consciousness. To meditate would be rude; nonetheless I can’t help but daydream. I doodle pictures of the Potala Palace as designed by Frank Gehry. I make lists of possible sequels to The Art of Happiness, like Rich Dad, Enlightened Dad, or maybe a partnership with Jim Collins, Good to Great…to Nirvana. Then again, diet books dominate the best-seller list these days. The Southeast Asian Beach Diet? In the midst of this Parker catches me doodling and calls me out. “Everybody, but everybody, has got to pull their own weight in this company,” he yells, “I don’t care if you’re the Dalai Lama, you still have to shred your own documents around here.”

Saffron. If we could just get those company softball uniforms in saffron.

The world is illusion, created and sustained by the deceptive tool called language. Words too often serve as symbols, filters that are designed to convey emotions or thoughts and to represent physical objects, and yet they inevitably end up as the source of confusion and suffering. Nowhere is this more evident than at work. If I hear one more person say “I’ve got too much on my plate” or use the phrase “real time” (as if time could ever be anything but a psychological construction that we fabricate to give reality conceptual heft), then I swear I’m going to get Medieval on them with a high capacity desk stapler.

New guidelines came down today from Corporate on personalization of office space. Permissible items: Martin Luther King and Gandhi bobbleheads, Simpsons screensavers, Nobel Peace Prizes. Must go: hot plate, Richard Gere poster, lava lamp.

Been working on some Sales Koans for the fall retreat:
What is the sound of no customers buying?
Why do it?
You want it when?

These new consultants bring a lot of energy to the current project, much of it positive. Yet I must acknowledge a few reservations. First of all, it would be nice if they stopped calling the founder of their company a guru. He’s smart, he knows his way around a balance sheet, he’s even got the vision thing down. But I’ve been around gurus. And he, sir, is no guru. Second, if I had could feed one person for a year for every time someone asked me whether, to quote Bill Murray in Caddyshack, I was a “big hitter,” the world would be cured of hunger. And while I appreciate the interest in Eastern philosophy these consultants are going overboard with the metaphors. How many times do I have to explain that there is no connection between the notion of karma and the tradeoffs between LIFO and FIFO, that performance reviews must provide sticks or carrots for employees to get with the program; and no matter how engaged the line employees are there is no Eightfold Path to Six Sigma? Defects are bliss.

To Do list for Tuesday 8/14:
*Reconfigure source code for XML platform
*Pitch the Gas-ex account to folks in global
*Send Megan the memo on the accounting implications of last FASB ruling
*Alleviate global suffering through message of tolerance and spiritual growth

Posted by tom at August 10, 2004 08:30 PM
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