Daniel Goleman has spent the last 30 years researching and developing the science of Emotional Intelligence, and is a friend of the Dalai Lama. Recently he was asked to write a book about the Dalai Lama’s compassionate approach to addressing the world’s most intractable problems. Due out in June 2020, Force for Good, is both an exploration of the science and the power of compassion and a call to action.
Here’s an interview with Goleman about the book, where he identifies three characteristics of the Dalai Lama’s approach to leadership.
According to Goleman, “The Dalai Lama thinks in terms of generations and of what’s best for humanity as a whole. Because his vision is so expansive, he can take on the largest challenges, rather than small, narrowly defined ones.”
This is the essence of Persistence, keeping an eye on what’s most important.
The Dalai Lama, “…gathers information from everywhere.”
This curiosity and thirst for information is the essence of Resourcefulness.
Third, “He seems to care about everybody, and the world at large.”
This is the essence of Openness, unconditional acceptance of our own and others’ being.
Reading this, I realized two things. First, I was struck by how closely our Compassion Cycle model parallels the Dalai Lama’s approach to leadership. Compassion is a process that requires openness, resourcefulness, and persistence. And, when it comes to interpersonal situations like conflict or difficult interaction, it matters where you start and in what order you go. Always start at Open because compassion rests on the foundation of human value, safety, and dignity.
The second thing I noticed was a lopsided emphasis on openness, specifically mindfulness meditation as as way to “…cultivate an attitude of loving kindness, or of concern, or of compassion, toward people.” I have nothing against mindfulness and believe it is a great practice, but aligning compassion with mindfulness is one of several misconceptions about compassion we’ve identified in popular culture.
Goleman was vague about what comes next, saying, “this has the effect of priming the circuitry responsible for compassion within the brain, so that you are more inclined to act that way when the opportunity arises.
What does it mean to act on compassion? What are the behaviors and strategies to live out Openness, Resourcefulness, and Persistence? How do you measure it and teach it? I hope Goleman’s book offers more actionable strategies and I’m excited to read it.
Meanwhile, check out ORPO, our proven behavioral technology for compassion in leadership, outlined in my book, Conflict Without Casualties: A Field Guide for Leading With Compassionate Accountability, and taught in our Leading Out of Drama and Compassion Mindset programs. Contact us to start practicing compassion today.
Want help applying our compassion template to your crisis communication strategy? Call us for a free 30 minute consultation. +1 316 283 4200, email firstname.lastname@example.org
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