Two weeks ago I introduced the concept of 10 Commandments for business leaders _ and for anyone else wishing to have a successful and fulfilled life. Many of these concepts are based on Buddhist thought but the values they represent are universal.
I was moved to write this series because many think of business executives as people whose main focus is generating revenue and profit. However, I have met many executives who think deeply about their place in the world and are hungry to learn the true meaning of life.
In the Oct 3 column I noted that these 10 Commandments could be divided into three groups for different stages in life. The first three _ being with wise people, being in the right place, and being active in education and self-learning _ provide a solid foundation for early life. We then moved on to the journey through midlife, with the fourth and fifth commandments focused on right duty and right living and profession. Today we continue with three more commandments for the midlife journey and a final two for old age.
6. The right behaviour: Unexpected consequences can easily arise from careless thought. People should be considerate and behave in a virtuous manner at all times. Mindfulness is a key element in this regard.
Another successful executive, Sumrit Tantidilokkul, the managing director of Sub Sri Thai Plc (SST), the successful document warehouse and operator of the Au Bon Pain, Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin-Robbins chains in Thailand, once shared the following with me:
"A leader must have integrity and ethical standards all the time. When it comes to the qualities of a leader, being a good person is second to none. I always follow the Five Precepts of Buddhist teaching, which are do not kill, steal, engage in sexual misconduct, make false speech or take intoxicants."
7. Taking good care of others: People must be aware that without help and support from others, they could not get very far in life. Therefore, whenever the opportunity arises, they should give back to others as well.
Besides showing gratitude, humility is also an exemplary quality. Human being should hold fast to this quality in order for others to accept and listen to them. This way they can build relationships that may support a better life together.
Khunying Jada Wattanasiritham, who led Siam Commercial Bank for many years and remains active in the anti-corruption movement, once told me: "I have no desire to order people to do things according to my opinion. I prefer to listen first in order to understand them clearly. If we have different views, my job as a leader is to explain and convince them of my reasons and the rationale behind my decision."
8. Taking good care of one's self: In a world influenced by materialism, it is not easy to get away from greed and defilement. Talking with a spiritual thinker can help refresh you and opening your eyes to a new world of reality in Dhamma. Many top business executives make time for meditation practice, occasionally wit accomplished spiritual teachers.
In order to be better people, we all need to have the attitude to listen to the others and learn from them. Some of us may have low emotional resilience but we all can practise how to think, behave and welcome new ideas. As well, we need to be patient in the face of difficulty, suffering and disappointment from the acts of others.
Oranuch Apisaksirikul, the chief executive of Tisco Financial Group, expressed it to me this way: "Attentive listening is important for a leader. Leaders must dedicate themselves to explaining, teaching and transferring knowledge and good ways of thinking to their followers."
Toward peace of mind: Awareness in later life: After many long years in the working world, with all its moments of satisfaction and dissatisfaction, we can rely on the last two of the 10 commandments to help sustain us toward the end of our journey.
9. Living with the right attitude: This means to practise mindfulness, self-awareness and meditation at the end. In doing so, people will have time to think about what really matters in their lives. They may also take guidance from the Four Noble Truths, which aim to end human suffering, and the Noble Eightfold Path, which is the right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration.
Anurat Tiamtan, the chairwoman of Tipco Foods (Thailand) Plc, once says to me, "We always focus on our people. Their wellbeing and a suitable working atmosphere are our top concern. We encourage our employees to participate in CSR voluntarily. Some of them also practise Buddhist meditation, including me."
10. Living with a spiritual mind: We always take good care of our physical bodies but not many of us devote as much attention to our minds. Therefore, people should have mindfulness in order not to become trapped in sorrow which is a result of disappointment. They should be emotionally aware and monitor their thinking all the time.
There are eight worldly conditions to which human beings form emotional attachments, for better or worse: gain, loss, fame (rank and dignity), obscurity, blame, praise, happiness and pain.
Anurut Vongvanij, the president of British Dispensary, is believer in Buddhism as a path to both a better life and better business performance.
"I believe that Buddhism can help human beings to be tolerant and more patient when dealing with uncertainty in life and business," he says. "Buddhist practice will not slow our employees down when dealing with business, but it will help them to be not too aggressive.
"Stress comes from all directions. Not all employees will achieve the same results, but as they start practising, they will receive positive results not only for themselves but also for their families and co-workers."
Sorayuth Vathanavisuth teaches at Mahidol University's College of Management. His areas of interest are Buddhist management, leadership development and executive coaching. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org