Grateful Leadership

This is the sixth in a series of articles based on the Six Ways of Ruling, a teaching that was first presented by the founder of Shambhala, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, in 1978 and further expounded upon by his son, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, in his book Ruling Your World (Chapters 22-23). The “Six Ways” are qualities of a leader who wishes to join heaven and earth; that is, to execute power inspired by wisdom. The six qualities are: benevolent, true, genuine, fearless, artful, and rejoicing. This article is based on a talk given on May 23, 2013 at the Washington, DC Shambhala Center.

All for one and one for all

The sixth Way of Ruling is called “rejoicing”. It is, above all, an attitude that reflects the view that we are all in it together and handsif we do the best we can, with an open heart and genuine intentions to benefit others, we always have a reason to be grateful and rejoice. This has also been referred to as “an attitude of gratitude.” Grateful leaders know that they can’t do it all alone; therefore, they make everyone feel included—because in reality everyone is included. Everyone plays some part in making whatever happens happen. Skillful leaders try to keep each person’s interest in mind. This, in turn, keeps the leader from sinking into self-absorption, and also provides a reminder of the truth of interdependence. We really don’t accomplish anything without help from others in some way, shape, or form.

Fearlessly rejecting self-absorption, joy and celebration can arise

When President Obama, in July, 2012, said in a campaign speech in Virginia: “look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own” he wasn’t being negative or dismissive of people’s successes. What he was trying to do was to remind us of the fact that we all rely on others to some extent. As he pointed out shortly thereafter in the same speech, “The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.” President Obama was pointing to the fact that nobody really succeeds at anything in a vacuum. This truth should be recognized. When it is, it should be celebrated. It is good for us to recognize and celebrate our collaborative, creative endeavors together. And it is also beneficial spiritually in that it keeps us from devolving into small-mindedness.

Celebration is an attitude

Celebration itself is an attitude. It doesn’t actually require that we succeed so much as that we recognize the goodness inherent in striving for something worthwhile together. In fact, we could celebrate our daily life, simply as an expression of appreciation. The result is that as others feel the power of our love, care, and appreciation, their energy rises. This allows everyone to feel more powerful, awake, and valued, which makes the team/community/nation become “all-victorious”. Appreciation and celebration of the basic goodness inherent in each situation allows us to overcome bickering, jealousy, and competition and focus on the greater good. This is definitely cause for rejoicing and it is a view and quality that a skillful leader can help foster in his or her community. In the end, it doesn’t matter so much what we do, as that we do it together. And the fact that we did it together is worth being grateful for and rejoicing.

by Chris Montone