Delusions of Being Boss
On Christmas Eve 2015, I was working in the Kechara Forest Retreat kitchen with a small group of volunteers preparing the buffet for our themed gathering – Himalayan Night – to commemorate and celebrate Nepal’s spirit and culture as the country works to get back on its feet again.
In the conversation, we talked about “getting fired” and I loudly declared that I had never been fired before, having spent most of my professional life playing the role of a boss. However, the moment I heard myself make this statement out loud, I remembered the hundreds of my staff who had resigned or had gone missing-in-action. It suddenly dawned on me that I was the most fired person in the room. At that moment, I realised the irony of the pursuits of humankind that has put us on this rat race for centuries.
In general, it is safe to say that we all strive to be at the top of the pyramid – a position we perceive to be a symbol of strength, dominance, control, power and success. With this position, we access “more”, “bigger” and “better” things in life, we assume. However, we forget that with “more”, “bigger” and “better” things comes responsibility and, in most cases, fear of loss. Take a moment to observe those at the top of the pyramid. What experiences dominate their minds?
As a boss:
- I worked 24/7.
- When building the business, I skipped travel plans to various destinations
- During the holiday season, I was on duty so that my staff could return to their home towns
- When the sales dipped, I lost sleep and appetite
- When the economy suffered, so did my relationships
- When a competitor opened their doors for business, I feared losing my staff
- When my competitors ran promotions, I feared losing my customers
- I kept up appearances so that people would not see through the exhaustion of being the boss.
And yet, this is the position that most of us strive for. Does it really sound that powerful, fabulous or glamorous? This is the reality of being the boss or being at the top of that pyramid. I am not saying that being the boss is bad but rather our delusion of what this job entails. It is this delusion about being the boss and everything else in our lives that creates disappointment. For example:
- I am a smart person. As such, I should be successful.
- I am beautiful. Hence, everyone should love me.
- I am a good person. So, everyone should appreciate me.
- And if the equation does not match, disappointment and anger grows leading to a downwards spiral of suffering.
The Dharma I learned from my Guru H.E. the 25th Tsem Rinpoche was my healing pill. It helped me review my expectations of being the boss. In fact, it opened my mind to review my perceptions of being a daughter, sister, friend and colleague. All this led to a shift in my perception of who I am; from a ‘boss’ to a person who is forgiving, accepting, patient yet driven, hopeful and determined. This in turn influenced the actions I chose and its consequential results.
In conclusion, the next time you embark on a race to be at the top of the pyramid, take a moment to reflect on Why? And What are the benefits? Rinpoche is the founder, leader and “boss” of Kechara, one of the largest Vajrayana Dharma organisations in the region, which he built with sheer faith and compassion. I have never ever seen anyone go through more heartache, headache and sacrifice in my life. Yet, Rinpoche “plays boss” graciously, generously and selflessly. I believe it is because Rinpoche clearly understands the purpose and responsibilities of being a boss and carries this weight on his shoulders with no complaint.
Rinpoche sent us this quote once:
I do not pray for a lighter load, but for a stronger back. ~ Philips Brooks
I love conversations with fellow Dharma students at Kechara. Discussions are stimulating, constructive and eye-opening. I am beginning to understand what sages refer to as the power of speech, where words are purposeful and used to benefit others and oneself to gain understanding, realisation and heighten our states of mind.
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