Skip to main content

The Zen of Trust






Zen master Himadri was reputed to be a great leader who built stunningly successful institutions multiple times in his life. One of his disciples, Supyo, wanted to know the secret to his success, so he could build an organization himself.

Himadri said, "leadership".

Supyo was a little irritated with this answer. He had read everything about leadership. Countless tomes, written by countless leaders. Every one explained how they (or someone else) succeeded in building something that lasted for a long time. But none of it explained how someone can succeed so well so many times. Supyo wanted to not just create something once, but may times, much like Himadri. And he knew he had other precedents (none of whom had written about their success, strangely.)

Supyo had heard of Master Jobs and Stargazer Musk. He considered these two giants to be the only exceptions to the rule - that it is rare to even get one attempt at creating something stunning and extraordinarily valuable.

Then there was Himadri, his own master, doing it every time. And he wasn't about to reveal how, in more than one word at a time. This  - to be brushed away with one word answers, even if was the Zen way - wasn't an answer, or if it was, it was as good as nothing.

Supyo persisted - "Master, what is the Buddha of Leadership?"

Himadri said "Trust".

Supyo was now really seething. He wanted to learn, but there was no opening.

He moved up a level. He said, "Lead! I Trust!"

Himadri smiled.

He walked Supyo along the beautiful artwork that was the centerpiece of the monastery's courtyard. As they were climbing the stairs, Supyo started listening intently. All the while, he kept a corner of his eye on the rest of the world. As he did this, he sensed that the very space around them seemed to rotate, ascend and descend around them as they talked.

Himadri swatted a fly midway, and spoke these words:

"Trust is the backbone of culture.
Culture is the backbone of execution.
Execution is the backbone of strategy.
Strategy is the backbone of operations.
Operations is the backbone of service.
Service is the backbone of 'permission to do more'.
Permission to do more, is the backbone of growth.
Growth is the backbone of reputation.
Reputation is the backbone of brand.
Brand is the backbone of Trust."

Upon hearing this, Supyo was enlightened.

Popular posts from this blog

Why PI is not 4, math is great, and other mysteries.

The other day, I found myself with an interesting problem of approximating a circle with the enclosing square which seems to prove pi = 4.

The paradox was forwarded by a most interesting puzzle collector, Surajit Basu, a friend and life long inspiration. See Sonata for Unaccompanied Tortoise for why!



Here is the offending paradox:

























This is an example of how counterintuitive questions can be answered with a little calculus.

The key is to realize that no matter how closely we approximate the circle, the orthogonal lines of the approximation formed by inverting the square corners will never actually be tangential to the circle.

Note carefully that as you get closer to 90 degrees, the horizontal line is much longer than the vertical. Same goes with the approximation at 0 and 180 - the vertical line is much larger than the horizontal component.

If we take a quadrant of the circle - let's say the top left quadrant, moving counter clockwise from top to left -  we can imagine that each inf…

Ambition vs. Fear.

Most important things in life don't come to us. Nor do we get them by seeking/wanting them. It comes from letting go of the unimportant stuff.

The hardest part is letting go of the tendency to take the world as is. This is a habit of our past successes.

But success is not a destination, it is a STOP sign. You stop, wait, and move on. Too often, we are paralyzed by success into the fear of the new. We stall on the road to a new life. We need to break our inertia and move.

Our thoughts and thought habits are hard to break. But that is where we have to spend the most energy. Thoughts are always competing strands  - of worries of the past and anxieties for the future. For some of us, they are cleanly separated into rivers that nurture every place they travel. For most, they are like the torrents and trickles -- competing, rushing somewhere, stopping completely elsewhere, always mixing, morphing, competing, winning, losing.

Our thoughts are the potential difference between the two pole…

Meta leadership

Leadership The word leadership has a rather large spread and reach. It can mean a diverse set of behaviors. It can explain a wide variety of positive outcomes. It can effect a wide scope of results - from moving individuals within one's sphere of direct interaction, to moving an entire world far beyond one's direct influence. 
At its core, leadership is an attitude for influencing and executing transformation. It is a skill that results in exponential outcomes with a linear quantum of resource: Oneself. In this process, you leverage many sources both within, and outside, clear lines of control - resources, people,  organizations, domains of expanding knowledge, mental models, systems for doing things.

In today's world, leadership is probably the most important skill at every level of activity one wants to be successful at. This is simply because we are now connected to potentially billions of people within the palm of our hands, or within the reach of a keyboard.

Countles…