Updated: Aug 1, 2020
In a mindfulness course, I learnt that the most common spoken words of a dying person are "I'm sorry" and "I love you". After living an entire life in its various forms, each with its individual paths, humans find their common denominator to be love and forgiveness. It struck me: This is what life is really about, right? Forgiveness and Love. This is the picture. We humans are built in a way to do good things. We feel good when we do good things - for others especially. We feel guilty when we have done something unfortunate, something we think doesn't score high on the moral code scale. We are built and incentivized this way: to do good. So often, however, anger, frustration, hatred and other negative emotions can take over our innate being and distort the big picture with (sometimes) petty issues. That's why we need regular (cool-minded) reminders to set us straight - simplify issues to recognize what is right and what is wrong. The more complex issues get, the more opaque the line between right and wrong gets. The article today covers on how to deal with conflict personally, how this looks like in a business environment and how important peaceful and respectful diplomacy is when it comes to the issues between the two Asian powers: India and China.
The Big Picture in life.
"Human beings are not intrinsically selfish, which isolates us from others. We are essentially social animals who depend on others to meet our needs. We achieve happiness, prosperity and progress through social interaction. Therefore, having a kind and helpful attitude contributes to our own and others' happiness." - this is a quote from Dalai Lama. This describes the big picture of our human lives. These quotes of wisdom are like drops of realizations that we humans have experience and share with the rest of humanity. Dalai Lama also said, that disagreement is something normal. Whatever the reason for disagreements (big or small), I strongly believe that the pain caused by these disagreements can be eased with a glimpse towards the big picture: forgiveness and love. It is nothing new that stress, caused by fear, anxiety, anger or frustration has negative effects on our body and our brain. Studies show that traumatic stress can be associated with lasting changes in the amygdala, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex. It is not for no reason, that we say, we "can't think straight", when we are angry or hurt. During periods of negative emotions, we know that our brains do not allow us for seeing the big picture. It can be that our brain is protecting us to learn from our mistakes or others mistakes. Either way, as Dalai Lama explains in above quote, we humans can only progress on social interaction. And if grudges, a fight or disagreements hold us back from having our relationships with our family and friends flourish, we will carry the pain for as long as we hold onto the damaged relations. In order to avoid our moment of realization to be the moment before dying, I pray this article reminds us to let go of any pain, embrace forgiveness and spread love to our community and people around us. Pubilius Syrus said, agreement is made more precious by disagreement. It won't be easy, but I promise that the result will be worth the effort. And if you are stubborn, or too proud to take the first step towards reunification, I can guarantee, that vulnerability requires more strength than being right and being the "bigger person" will be rewarded with lightness and love towards yourself as well. Don't forget - we humans are incentivized to do good! Most of the countries are still working from home during this pandemic: use this extra time you have been given to reach out to the ones you have a disagreement with. Reach out to friends, you haven't spoken to a long time. Find a common denominator and see the big picture. See the big picture in your life. You might find some more healing in you, while trying to heal the relations around you.
The Big Picture in business. Disagreements in business are all too common. It is clear that you don't need to sign agreements with every company, but you also don't need to have lawsuits running with companies, you don't have agreements with. Business deals are done by humans - social animals as we have learnt from previous paragraph. I recently attended a talk of Steve Farber, author of "The Radical Leap" and "Love is just damn good business". He was the first business leadership coach who openly talked about emotions, specifically love, in business. He explains the concept of successful leadership based on LEAP:
With this concept he has inspired millions of leaders to embrace forgiveness and love within teams leading to increased innovation and productivity with an elevated team spirit within companies. As Bill Gates describes, business is like a "good game": "Lots of competition and a minimum of rules". These minimum of rules can sometimes blur the way we do business. Our economies are built in a way to create perfect competition. This market structure increases our quality of life with the level of innovation and advancements it creates. In the world of business, I want to refer to Steve Farber's philosophy to lead by example with embedded goodhearted decisionmaking internally, colleagues and employees, and externally towards competition. Deepica, founder of LiveTinted, rightfully provides her tips to create your own business and remain true to your own vision: even if there are million other companies out there, "Nobody is you - that is your most powerful asset". I strongly believe that there is space for everyone in the market. Have you seen how many different types of toothpaste you can buy in stores? All of these companies are existing and believe that they have their own unique selling proposition. What makes us special, is how we treat our neighbors or our competitors. Sometimes it is important to refer to the big picture within business. What is the benefit my business is providing to society? Is any severe disagreement / lawsuit with competition serving the big picture and the long-term vision of the company? And again - disagreements are normal - they elevate the quality of conversation, increase the innovative spirit - so they need to be embraced and used for the benefit of the big picture. But it is important to recognize at what crucial point in time a disagreement is not serving the big picture.
The Big Picture in politics. Mahatma Gandhi said, "it's easy to love those who are far, but it's not easy to love your neighbors." They also say, "Don't throw stones at your neighbors, if your own windows are glass." On June 15th 2020 the Asian powerhouses and neighbours India and China were caught in a severe dispute leading to casualties on both sides at Galwan. Reasons for this latest feud included "China taking offence with India laying a key road in the finger area around the Pangong Tso Lake" and the "construction of another road connecting the Darbuk-Shayok-Daulat Beg Oldie road in Galwan Valley" (Economic Times India). I am not going to lay out the details of this feud and I am not taking any side. My intention is to guide to the big picture. For either sides, each party is not responsible for other people's actions, but each party is responsible for their own actions. And it is important to understand what consequences each party's actions have. "Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai" was the slogan marking the friendship when "India was a new and messy democracy and China an impoverished communist dictatorship" (Foreign Policy) in the 50's. "The friends turned foes in 1962, when they fought a short but bloody war. After that, the two nations' armies glared at each other, weapons at the ready, until their governments decided to fight poverty rather than each other." (Harvard Business Review). And the Hindustan Times writes, "just as the wounds of the 1962 war eventually healed, so will the scars of Galwan".
Finding the common denominator between India and China, we will find two powerhouses, whose healthy competition (like in business) can lead to increased innovation and higher quality of life in the countries. The competition or race for being the number one power in Asia becomes unhealthy, when it doesn't benefit society anymore. The 1962 war and the Gulwan feud has shown this. "Both nations are vying to be Asia’s undisputed superpower, and they are suspicious about each other’s intentions. China and India have nuclear weapons; they have created the world’s biggest armies; and they are trying to dominate the seas in the region. Economist Angus Maddison has calculated that in the 1800s, China and India together accounted for 50% of global trade. It is impossible to make predictions about the integration of these countries into the global economy, because past events, such as Germany’s reunification and the fall of the Iron Curtain, don’t compare. After those occurrences in 1990, a large number of people entered the global economy, but the numbers pale in significance when compared with the China–India double whammy. Like it or not, the world’s future is tied to China and India.", writes the Harvard Business Review. However, we need to remind ourselves of the ties between India and China. Both countries have old cultural and religious ties. "Nathu La, which has increased the number of cross-border pilgrimages. The pass makes it easy for China’s Buddhists to offer prayers at monasteries in Sikkim, such as Rumtek, and for India’s Hindus and Jains to visit sacred Mount Kailash and Manasarovar Lake in Tibet. The bonds between China and India run deep." (Harvard Business Review). Even if you don't agree on everything it's important to have peace and the benefit and wellbeing of society as the objective. Neither India, nor China can afford to have an angry neighbour, especially not an angry powerful one. And the provocation of inflicting limitations to bilateral trade will make the political feud only bigger. Modi's consistency on making India more self-reliant with his Atmanirbhar Bharat program, are steps in the wrong direction. Referring to my article on "Globalization vs Protectionism" - I repeat the quote from Dalai Lama: We are essentially social animals who depend on others to meet our needs. We achieve happiness, prosperity and progress through social interaction." Self-reliance and trade restrictions are steps in the wrong direction. Disagreements are necessary to progress, but reminding ourselves of the bigger picture: love and forgiveness, is crucial. In a political space: providing well-being and improved quality of life for all citizens should always be the objective, and our eyes shouldn't move away from this big picture. Let's make sure all decisions we make have clarity on the big picture. Disagreements are good, as long as they benefit society and don't drift from the big picture.
Together, we can create a community of goodhearted decisionmakers as big as the world population!