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I am always curious to find out how other people, different than the ones I regularly work with, manage projects. A few months ago I had the pleasure to participate in a session with a Lama from Tibet (note: a Lama is an honorific title applied to a spiritual leader in Tibetan Buddhism). He talked about several projects he had carried out, both in Tibet as well as in Europe. I wanted to find out more about his methods, is there anything we could learn from them.
Dear Lama, what was the purpose of creating the charitable organization Golog Support Foundation, one of your first projects?
The main reason for doing the project was to improve the life of the people in my region in Tibet, Golok. The people here are very poor, with almost no means to carry out a decent life. There is no much food, very little support, and no healthcare. I suffered a terrible experience, in which my sister in law, pregnant of 8 months, died, and her baby too, because of the lack of access to a hospital. It was a very sad moment in my life.
There is an old saying in Tibetan, ‘Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength.’ which helped me to recover. But I also thought this had to change. I started to work in a project to bring healthcare to the villages. I talked to doctors and found much support, which allowed me to bring Tibetan and Chinese traditional medicines and doctors to each town, mountain to mountain, to cure people. 1.800 people had received medicines after one month. The success of this first project gave me energy to continue pursuing my dream of helping more people.
Does the Buddhist teaching address how to manage the projects we carry out in our lives? How to keep the team engaged the people?
In fact, yes, the Buddhist philosophy runs around projects, projects that help us to become a better person and that contribute to create a better society. It doesn’t explain how to manage a project, but it does teach us to stay focused on the end goal and to persevere when we face adversities in the journey. Doing projects in Tibet is very difficult, the political situation is not very easy, and it is a very poor country, but we learned to never give up.
In fact, Dalai Lama use to say: “To remain indifferent to the challenges we face is indefensible. If the goal is noble, whether or not it is realized within our lifetime is largely irrelevant. What we must do therefore is to strive and persevere and never give up.” –
Another interesting similarity is the fact that people helping us in our projects do it very often on a voluntary basis, on top of many other duties. We have learned the important of believing in the benefits of the projects we carry out, without that, it will be impossible that others will like to work for us. A second important technic is to communicate regularly about the progress and the goal of the project, the “why it is important to keep fighting for it”.
What do you teach to younger generations? How can we make them better project leaders?
I have been teaching to young students at the university in Luxembourg for the past five years. The younger generation seem to be more open to meditation. They are not so much into religion; they are rather looking for internal peace. I focus on teaching them human values, like compassion, integrity, …. I also teach them how to increase their focus, to eliminate all the distractions, and to dedicate a large amount of their time to the things that matter most for them without forgetting some vital activities. My vision is that: healthy body, healthy mind, healthy relationships, guarantees happiness.
I am convinced this approach will make them great leaders in the future no matter in which area they decide to work. I also believe these learnings will make them better project managers, they will be more credible and trustworthy when they need to engage teams to work for them.
Could we consider discovering and developing our inner peace of mind as the “happiness project”?
Indeed, the Dalai Lama said: “Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.” Inner peace is very important but not easy because we have lots of negative emotions, which, for our prehistoric need for survival, tend to be predominant in our mind activity. I have spent a lot of time studying how we can control negative emotions. There are about 84.000 methods to train your mind, but in the end it is all about mastering your mind. I have learned that you should not let emotions control your state of mind, on the contrary, you should control your emotions and decide which topics you keep in your mind. Focus on the good ones, take the lessons of the bad ones, and move one. Definitely, the key to happiness is to learn how to control your mind and emotions.
Why is it so difficult to achieve our dreams, often giving up half way through? Any suggestions to improve our success?
It depends on the dreams. When I talk to people, I find that the more individualistic and materialistic dreams, like gaining 1 million euro, tend to be more difficult to reach and create a lot of frustration and un-happiness if achieved because they don’t generate the expected satisfaction. On the other hand, the dreams that have something good for society, that are good for everyone, tend to be more successful and deliver much more personal satisfaction. We definitely should focus on this latter dreams and projects, those that make a better society and deliver benefits for all.
Which kind of projects should leaders launch to make a better, more fair and peaceful world?
Some of our current leaders are not really leaders, they have a big Ego and strong focus on themselves. They don’t understand what humanity needs, which is peace and prosperity. Leadership is about doing good for the others and the best leaders that our humanity has seen understood this very basic principle. Ghandi, Dalai Lama, Mandela, … are great examples of peaceful leaders that achieved great things, gave a lot, and had a long lasting impact on society.
I like to leave you with a final quote of Dalai Lama which find so pertinent in today’s convoluted times:
“Peace does not mean an absence of conflicts; differences will always be there. Peace means solving these differences through peaceful means; through dialogue, education, knowledge; and through humane ways.”
What do you think about Lama’s views on projects and his suggestions on how we should approach the challenges we face?
Lama Jigmé Namgyal was born in 1973 in a nomad family in Golok, in the east of Tibet. He studied the Buddhist philosophy, tantra and meditation. In 2000 he decided to leave Tibet and go to Europe. He founded two Buddhist centres: the Centre Culturel Tibétain in Luxemburg and Phuntsok Chö Ling in Rotterdam. Currently, there are centres under construction in Ireland and Costa Rica. Lama Jigmé has much experience in care for the dying and he is especially interested in interfaith dialogue. You can get in touch with Lama Jigme Namgyal through one of his websites http://www.phuntsokcholing.org/and https://gologsupport.org/
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