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SXSW: Did I climb the ladder against the wrong wall?

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Did I climb the ladder against the wrong wall? Did I get faster to a place I didn’t want to go? Am I being a manager instead of an effective leader?

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” (Peter Drucker in: Covey, S. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, 2013, p. 108)

20160312_122328As I wind down from all my excitement and focus on SXSW and reap the fruits of my investments, I wonder if I lost some of my mindfulness and compassion along the way. Was I so rushed to finish all my chores (print business cards, update website, register for Square, install online scheduling tool, post Tweets and FB messages), that I forgot it’s not about what we do? That it’s about who we are and the intention behind our action? About the values we are serving, more than about the actions we complete or not complete?

I realize that in the hassle to get things done, I neglected my spiritual nourishment. I haven’t been to my mindfulness Sangha in more than two months. I haven’t read Thich Nhat Hanh’s writings in more than four weeks, I hardly sat on my meditation cushion since I came back from the Netherlands in February.

Reviewing all I did and didn’t do, AND all I was and wasn’t, I realize that at the end of my life I probably won’t care about the success of my business, the money I made, the fame I built. At the end of my life I hope that others will appreciate me for how caring I was, how I focused on connection, how I walked towards conflict and misunderstanding to resolve it, and how dedicated I was towards empathy and compassion.

And I make a new pledge to myself: “I will practice looking deeply to see that the happiness and suffering of others are not separate from my own happiness and suffering; that true happiness is not possible without understanding and compassion, and that running after wealth, fame, power and sensual pleasures can bring much suffering and despair” (Second Mindfulness Training, transmitted to me by Thich Nhat Hanh in 2011 with my Dharma name “Joyful Harmony of the Heart”).

That’s all I am asking of myself: To master the art of friendship in the context of mindfulness.


You want help to be a leader in your own life? Contact me, 512-589-0482 for a free, discovery session.

Thank you, David Nayer, for editing this post during your travels. I am inspired by your dedication to contribute!

Author: Elly van Laar

I am a coach. I specialize in helping compassionate professionals integrate self-care in their lives. I have a Master's degree in Political Science, Leiden University, the Netherlands. I love meditation, walking, gardening, biking, and hanging out with family and friends.

2 thoughts on “SXSW: Did I climb the ladder against the wrong wall?

  1. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ I can really relate to the feelings you describe.

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