One sunny Tuesday morning in 2010, his Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet visited the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa. He brought with him a message of optimism peppered with accountability toward humanity.
As I was sitting in the full-capacity audience (comprised of several thousand of my “closest friends”), it dawned on me that the Dalai Lama would have made a great CEO.
What if the Dalai Lama had chosen to be a CEO instead of serving both as the head of state and spiritual leader of Tibet? Just imagine what the world’s business titans might have learned from Tenzin Gyatso.
Considering his keen intellect, natural curiosity and humility, I believe Tenzin Gyatso would have significantly redefined Corporate America. This transformation would have been a result of the Dalai Lama’s ongoing emphasis on being compassionate, establishing harmony and driving to learn. Just consider these three lessons conveyed by the Dalai Lama during his trip to America’s Heartland.
Lesson #1 – Compassion Can a CEO be compassionate? The Dalai Lama certainly thought so. He believed having common experiences and using our common sense makes each of us more compassionate. During his UNI speech, the Dalai Lama stated “when we appreciate others above ourselves it provides a strong sense of confidence that leads to imagination and vision for those individuals. Therefore, being altruistic is the real power and serves as the foundation of knowledge in life.”
Lesson #2 – Harmony (Mutual Respect) How does a CEO bring harmony into the workplace and make it part of the corporate culture? According to the Dalai Lama, harmony is built upon mutual respect and mutual admiration. It also means being a strong proponent of embracing different viewpoints. He emphasized such viewpoints have a special richness because different or contradictory philosophies teach us valuable lessons. The Dalai Lama shared “offering just one philosophy won’t work in life because it doesn’t suit different people. Humanity needs different philosophies. We also need common experiences and common sense.”
Lesson #3 – Learning is like a Lamp Does a CEO have to know everything? Not necessarily if you consider “Lesson #3” from the Dalai Lama. When asked about the value of education, the Dalai Lama responded: “Learning is like a lamp…it is the best kind of wealth and an utterly reliable friend. Knowledge is a friend that never changes when your fortune goes down.” And then he chuckled. “Knowledge is most precious. However, knowledge alone will not bring inner peace. Education alone is no guarantee to bring happiness to self or the community.”
As the crowd expectantly leaned forward in their chairs hoping to learn the meaning of life, the Dalai Lama warmly smiled and concluded by stating, “Then, what do we need? We need a sense of responsibility and oneness for humanity.“
If you’re still skeptical or wondering whether Tenzin Gyatso would have made an exceptional FORTUNE 100 CEO, let’s consider his earlier quote, “Being altruistic is the real power and serves as the foundation of knowledge in life.”
Based upon that one thought, let’s be just a bit more powerful and knowledgeable in our lives. Who knows, maybe one of us might be the next transformational FORTUNE 100 CEO.