The professional world is full of temptations to engage in negativities in order to professionally get ahead. I would argue that as a long-term prospect even in professional terms, such actions are short-sighted and ultimately will fail even if they produce some short-term gains. Karmically, if one succeeds in a professional environment, it has much more to do with whether they have previously created the karma for success than their current actions. For example, somebody will become rich if they have given a lot in the past, not how hard they work today (though of course hard work is a circumstantial condition most of the time). Somebody will become powerful if they have protected others in the past, not whether they are willing to assert themselves today.
Further, if we engage in negativities today in the workplace, it actually increases the likelihood that good things will not happen for us even in the short run. Why? Because negative minds activate negative karma. So if we are generating negative, selfish minds thinking this will get us ahead (the peak of delusion), then this will activate negative seeds on our mind which will bring about more misfortune and obstacle. The only exception to this is when we are subject to massive spirit interference where malevolent spirits actually activate karmic seeds for ‘success’ in an effort to fool us into confusing cause and effect (namely negative actions bring about success). This is quite similar to the mythical ‘deals with the devil.’ Even if they are not formal deals, karmically they are quite similar.
Finally, from simply the perspective of being happy while you work, engaging in negativities in the workplace is self-defeating. Even if you ‘succeed’ more, you do so at the price of your own inner peace, so you are not able to actually enjoy your success. Inner peace is an essential condition for being able to enjoy anything, and without it even if we become the richest and most powerful person in the world, we will not enjoy any of it. So what is the point?
Given all of the above, what then are the qualities of a Kadampa in the workplace? First and foremost, we should be like my former boss Dr. Sahliyeh who has as his operating principle that he wants what is best for his employees, even if that means something not good for him. He demonstrated this to me two times. The first was when I was interviewing, and instead of saying something bad about other employment opportunities I had, he said he hoped I got Gonzaga and that he wanted what was best for me. Then he suggested my name for the job in Dubai, even though that meant he might lose me which he didn’t want to do. When our employees know that want what is best for them, even if it means it comes at our own expense, then they will naturally respect us and give us their all. Dr. Sahliyeh was also an outstanding boss in that he always makes a point of asking how the family is and how our personal lives are going before he addresses the professional issues. He does not view us just as workers, but as people with lives first, and he takes that into account in what he demands. For example, he allowed me to only work mornings for the first couple of months when we arrived in Dallas so I could help get my family established in their new lives here. All of these things are really amazing. He is about as good of a boss as they come.
We should also be extremely competent in all that we do. I think some Kadampas make the mistake of thinking that because our ordinary work is largely mundane that it does not matter, so we don’t really apply ourselves. But even if the work we do is mundane, the personal skills we acquire by working are only mundane if we only intend to use them for mundane purposes. But if instead we wish to acquire these skills for the sake of spreading the Dharma, then such skills are vital for the welfare of all living beings. We will not be able to help all living beings if we are incompetent at all that we do! This is one of the things that appeals to me about being a diplomat. A diplomat needs to be the embodiment of virtually every good professional quality – smart, hard working, competent, diplomatic, good organizational skills, good communication skills, presents well, represents well, etc. Kadampa teachers and practitioners in this world are, in effect, the diplomats of all the Buddhas. Hard power is the ability to force people to do what we want, soft power is the ability to get people to aspire from their own side to do what we want, and this largely comes through the power of emulation. Why would people want to become a Kadampa if they see us all as a bunch of incompetent losers? Ambassador Chung was to competence what Dr. Sahliyeh is to personal qualities.
We used to watch Celebrity Apprentice. This too was revealing about professional conduct. Bret Micheals never said anything bad about anybody, he worked really hard, he was creative, he did not fight people or try advance his own agenda at their expense, he was just a genuinely good guy. Since he was such a good guy, you cannot help but want him to win. In contrast, Holly was a back-stabbing, self-serving, two-faced (sorry to say) b**ch. But she is really competent at all that she does and she fights for a good cause. But despite that, you can’t help but want her to fail because of the way she is. As Thomas Friedman says we are in the age of ‘how’. How we do things is more important than what we do. Curtis was smug and too much of a pretty boy, so people also did not want him to succeed. Cindy Lauper was brilliantly creative, but was such a wierdo that had no time management skills that, while you liked her and she was right on the personal side of things, couldn’t inspire the respect of others. Sharon Osborne was really good at what she did and she clearly ‘got it’ in terms of the human skills, but she was either too tired, too sick or too emotionally involved to make it. It just overwhelmed her. Some people made it far simply by not rocking the boat and quietly operating under the radar. Not being remarkable, either too good or too bad, just quietly doing a good job. But if you don’t stick your neck out and lead you won’t make it all the way.
The point is this: as Kadampas we need to embody every good quality, but we develop these qualities for the sake of helping and inspiring all beings to enter into and complete the path. We need to never say anything bad about anybody ever, work hard, be competent at all that we do, be fair, put our employees or clients interest firsts, not be smug, be creative, be a risk-taker, manage our time well, be diplomatic, etc., etc., etc. Dorje Shugden arranges for us to be in a working environment for a reason.