Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Lead, Listen, Destroy Walls...

Random thoughts that have come to me while in meditation, sitting in Chaghardas around Ahmedabad, and in the course of daily life:
  1. Leadership Universities. Since I was quite young I have had a vision that in my life I should be a leader of some sort. But leading is hard. I think there should be institutes of higher learning dedicated to training aspiring leaders. I wish I had a B.S. in Leadership Science. There would be classes like "Listening", "Scenario Assessment", "Working Under Pressure of Time and Constrained Resources", and "Delegation". Kids in the U.S. go to name-brand schools to be next generation leaders of the world, but for the most part it's a poor fit with their actual abilities and goals. They just happen to have been born in the most privileged society in the world so they have access to the resources. But a degree in leadership is only half the battle because of course we know that " don't follow titles, they follow courage".
  2. In a room full of people having a discussion or debate, the tendency is to assume that the smartest/most capable are the ones who have the broadest experience, know the most facts about a particular topic, are the most eloquent in expressing their viewpoint, etc. But in that same room I would say the one with the greatest potential is the dude who asks the best questions. There are two reasons. One, because by asking a question during heated discussion they have demonstrated that they have overcome their ego by avoiding the tendency to prove their intelligence by offering an ignorant, uninformed comment. Two, because they have demonstrated through the good question that they have gotten to the heart of the matter. It takes a sharp, astute mind to ask good questions. My adviser Scott asks particularly good questions.
  3. Four traits that I admire in other human beings and strive to perfect myself:
  • Fearlessness. I admire those who are able to break through barriers that come in their way in the course of life. Most people come to a wall in life and either live within it or at best decorate it to their taste. But the special fearless few are able to look beyond walls.
  • Humility. The ego is such a difficult thing to overcome. Here I have seen that my ego is very much alive and kicking. What to do? In retrospect I still feel that my ego-driven actions were right. But the trick, as I see it, is to take ego-detached action. It may turn out to be the same action as with the ego, but when you act humbly, you are free. Gandhiji had a quote that has stuck with me since I first read it many years ago: "The seeker after Truth should be humbler than the dust. The world crushes the dust under its feet, but the seeker after Truth should so humble himself that even the dust could crush him."
  • Compassion. Enough Said.
  • Gratitude. In college a saying came to me one day: “Every breath, a blessing”. My roommate here in my bungalow had a brain tumor removed. He is lucky to be alive. I am lucky to never have had a brain tumor. I wish to act, moment-to-moment, with that awareness.


  1. Hi Neil,
    You made my day with this post. thank you :)


  2. I love post like this thanks for sharing it.