The Noble Path to a vibrant workplace

The Noble Path to a vibrant workplace
Published: 13 February 2014
It is so important to be inspired. Once in a while, we can be inspired by an ancient framework to consider our daily tasks differently. The Gautama Buddha's teachings were action-oriented and a high priority of this sage as he imparted eight actions or 'Noble Paths' to liberate people. In this week's newsletter we contextualise the eight actions in the workplace of today as follows:

The primary idea is that each of the eight tasks on the path can be perfected. You may start with a zero score but in time become perfect at it through practice, discarding that which is not correct and getting better with every interaction.

The first two actions on the Noble Eightfold Path are the right view and the right intention. These two actions involve gaining wisdom.

Right view
The first idea is that you must clearly understand what is happening around you to really pick up on a new way of doing things. Do you have a clear view of the big picture of your organisation? Do you know your role in achieving that?

Having the right view means you take what happens to you into perspective and become aware of the world around you. If we have the right information, we can make better decisions. Also, having a clear view of why we are here helps us to transform the world around us.

Right intention
If you set out to achieve great things, you will tend to achieve great things. If you set out to harm others, you will harm yourself and others. Your actions amplify themselves. Not knowing what your intention is makes you vulnerable to live the dreams of others, while still trying to find your own genuine purpose.

Having the right intention is a very difficult task, as you need to constantly evaluate your actions against your intention. Having the right view will help you decide what you need to get rid of and what will take you closer to your goals.

Also called the 'right resolve', the right intention is a measure of how well you achieve what you set out to achieve.

In the workplace, we often see people who set out only to make money. They often fail. However, the intention to make a positive change in your customers' lives changes the whole dynamic and teaches you that every action you take will impact the lives of others. Your intention to do well is genuine and makes a better being of you and your customers.

If we all realise that employees in the workplace often genuinely want to contribute to the purpose of the company, we can start transforming our relationships towards the right intention.

The next three paths are the right speech, right action and right livelihood. These are skills we need to succeed.

Right speech
To speak correctly is an art. The Noble Path recommends that you abstain from lying, divisive speech, abusive speech, idle speaking, and unnecessary chatter. It sounds like the world will become quiet for a while if we do this.

It is also important to improve your ability to express yourself verbally and in writing, and to present quality ideas that are well structured. How many times do we open ourselves up to ridicule and dismissal of ideas by poor presentation? How many times do we make simple errors that make people discredit our work? Skills such as writing, presentation skills and the ability to express our ideas are a large part of what studying is about.

Many successful business people will tell you that the only measure of yourself or of another person is integrity. The skill of saying what you do and doing what you say is needed to shape better relationships with others and to achieve meaningful results that you and others value.

Right action
You should at least make sure that you do not harm others by your actions. This does not mean that you have to be meek and without will. Instead, you need to ensure that your actions have the necessary effect to strengthen the organisation in the right direction, without unnecessarily harming others. Too many times organisations engage in power struggles, fights and senseless work that harms, rather than strengthens. These power battles serve a few but will not bring the organisation or its participants any closer to their goals. We also often shift the blame or the problem without dealing with the real issue. This is also not the right action.

The second idea is if you do nothing, then nothing gets done. Without acting, there is no action. No action is often the wrong action. If you can answer the question "What happens if we do nothing?" with a clear conscience, then you know that you may be onto a potential solution.

Great plans, great organisations and great people fail when we do nothing.

Right livelihood
The idea of right livelihood is that you must choose a profession in which you are comfortable. Are you shaping your daily work with a view towards what is being achieved? Research shows that people who can connect their life purpose with their daily actions, have a higher purpose and typically work harder, achieve more and succeed.

If you are in an industry where you do not feel that you contribute and cannot see how your actions shape your future and that of others, then you need to start thinking about how to do things differently. We all have a role to play in society and the best way to get closer to making your unique contribution is to be in a place where you feel you are doing something that you identify with.

Not everything is about glitz, glamour or fame – someone needs to pick up the trash and do the hard work. Make sure you understand your role in society and make sure you do whatever you do, well.

The last three disciplines are right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration. These three deal with concentration.

Right effort
If you start to measure your return on effort, you will start looking at the ways in which your work affects others. By being persistent and focused on achieving what you set out to do, you will realise that it is pointless to waste energy on unnecessary pursuits that do not add to your end goals.

The workplace needs to focus its effort on making sure it speaks to both profit, and the happiness of customers and staff. Anything to improve these is part of the right effort.

Right mindfulness
Giving the right attention, remembering what is important and staying focused is all part of right mindfulness. Eliminate things that do not contribute to your being in the right frame of mind. Continue improving yourself through studying and broadening your horizons to reach the next level of thinking.

Through equipping yourself with the right business tools, studies and by surrounding yourself with likeminded people, it is easier to maintain the right mind.

Right concentration
By thinking of your goals and remaining focused on them, you can achieve anything. All the other disciplines contribute to this view. The idea is, if you keep this path and the other paths as your main focus, you will gain knowledge and freedom.

Business and the workplace should liberate people to explore their full potential. For many organisations, this may be a radical new approach to the employment relationship. We need to realise that we are all here to make a contribution and that getting the most out of people requires that we allow them to be and express themselves within a framework of 'right'.

These principles were taught more than 2 500 years ago, however, this framework can still inspire us in our daily work and actions. We live in a world where, day-to-day, new solutions are required to problems that are more complex than ever before. Only if each one of us finds our purpose in this world, can we start to do the work required to create a different tomorrow.
- Regenesys
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