Management Advice from Buddha

By Marshall Goldsmith

Buddha suggested that his followers only do what he taught if it worked in the context of their own lives. He encouraged people to listen to his ideas, think about his suggestions, try out what made sense – keep doing what worked – and to just “let go” of what did not work.

Similarly, I teach my clients to ask their key stakeholders for suggestions on they can become more effective leaders then listen to these ideas, think about the suggestions, try out what makes sense – keep doing what works – and let go of what does not.

When our stakeholders give us suggestions on how we can become more effective, we can look at these suggestions as gifts – and treat our stakeholders as gift-givers. When someone gives you a gift you wouldn’t say, “Stinky gift!” “Bad gift!” or “I already have this stupid gift!” You would say, “Thank you.”

If you can use the gift – use it. If you don’t want to use the gift, put it in the closet and “let it go.”

You would not insult the person who is trying to be nice by giving you a gift. In the same way, when our stakeholders give us ideas, we don’t want to insult them or their ideas. We can just learn to say, “Thank you.”

We cannot promise to do everything that people suggest we should do. We can promise to listen to our key stakeholders, think about their ideas, and do what we can. This is all that we can promise – and this is all that they expect.

My good friend, Chris Cappy, is a world expert on large-scale change, has a great philosophy on getting ideas. He always says, “I won’t learn less.” When we get ideas and suggestions, we may learn more – but we won’t learn less. Get in the habit of asking the important people in your life, “How can I be a better…?”

This works at work – in your efforts to become a better leader, team member, or co-worker.

This works at home – in your efforts to become a better friend or family member.

Who do you need to ask, “How can I become a better…?” How do you typically respond to suggestions? Do you treat them as gifts – or do you critique them and the person making them?

Source: Harvard Business review

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