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Christian Meier

Over and out: Meditation in daily business life

This is the second part of a “series” that started last August. Thank god (or whoever is responsible) that I didn’t become a professional series writer, with this kind of discipline I probably wouldn´t be very successful.

Last time, it was about impermanence on the level of money. (As I’m still writing about the same business, you can guess that the tides of impermanence created SOME balance on the bank account, at least so far.) This time, it is about accepting impermanence on the level of people, of working relationships. Which can be quite challenging.
My agency is pretty small, around 15 people, and so it’s on the whole quite personal. (Although I’m sometimes amazed, how much distance can be created even in such a small group and working just 20 meters apart.) There is little hierarchy, sometimes I’m not sure whether it’s too little. If somebody shows interest and engagement, I´m usually open to hand over responsibilities.
So the person this experience is about, belonged to a “core team” of three people around me, people I used to discuss important decisions with, people that were giving me worthwhile feedback on actual developments in the agency but also on personal issues related to business. And we had just started a “re-positioning process” that involved re-defining our core values, our strategic aims, but also improving working processes and working conditions. We had regular meetings and we were guided and monitored by a (pretty expensive) external business coach.
This was a very interesting situation, as all kinds of emotions came up, like complete disbelieve, feelings of despair and abandonment and so on, my thoughts were saying “how the hell are you going to cope with THIS ONE??!” (I forgot to say that this person had a very important role for our client-services as well) and at the same time there was no chance of taking a timeout for a day and think it over – the schedule was tightly planned and ticking.Just a few days, before we wanted to present the whole thing to the rest of the agency and involve them on an operational level, this person comes into my room, takes a seat and says: “I don´t wanna talk around it, I´m going to leave the agency soon.”
Luckily, my little practice of watching the elusive mind helped me to not be completely overwhelmed, but to feel the shock and still be able to operate and take decisions. As the person used to be loyal, I decided to leave everything as it is for the moment and to carry on as planned. This turned out to be not such a good idea a few days later, when he, after a kind of an intensive interrogation, admitted that he would switch to a direct competitor.
This was the next very interesting situation, because I KNEW what had to be done but there was a hesitation because I had never done it before. This time, watching my mind helped me to stay kind and very clear at the same time. I told him to leave the agency right away and to only come back for a meeting to hand his projects over.
Now, as you can imagine, this situation triggered all kinds of thoughts and reflections, like “how could I rely on this person?”, “how can he act in this irresponsible way?” and so on. But the main thing it taught me is, that we all have our very own, very individual interpretation of reality. And we literally can never know what happens inside the person sitting opposite you.  “This person shows a lot of interest in me and the business and goes out for a beer with me” for example, I interpreted as “feels strongly connected to me and the business and will be loyal, especially in these difficult times”. But asked, what the reasons for his decisions are, one answer was: “I find you and the business great, but you know, five years are over now, and I think it´s a good time to move on.”
We can´t control everything. Actually our power to control ANYTHING is pretty little.
So, on a deeper level, this story teaches me profoundly about impermanence and, taking it into my meditation, brings me closer to a peace of mind in the midst of all this completely unpredictable, crazy and amazing spectacle called life.