by Douglas Noll

August 2005

Douglas Noll Compassion is one of the great unheralded traits of business leadership. Compassion requires you to subjugate your own need for attention and self esteem to the needs of others around you. You care and you are sincere in your caring. True compassion in the business world is very rare.

Many people confuse sympathy with compassion. They believe they are being compassionate when they are really being sympathetic. Sympathy is feeling other’s suffering with a desire to be helpful. Compassion is unconditional acceptance with the ability to see the essence in all things. Compassion goes right to our hearts and says, “I see you. I know you. You are valued and needed.”

Considered the highest expression of humanness, compassion is not a single virtue but a distillation of all the virtues. Compassion is a blend of fairness, kindness, gentleness, honesty, respect, courage and love. If, in our daily response to life, we express appropriately any or all of these virtues, we are compassionate beings. Compassion is not sympathy nor is it emotional, and the compassionate person is not easily affected by the emotions of others. Compassion, like empathy acknowledges the emotions of others without entering into or being swayed by these emotions. His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a being of compassion. Compassion is a state of consciousness.

How is compassion relevant in the business environment? Every business involves relationships between people. We can choose the quality of each business relationship, from competitive and hostile, to neutral, to compassionate. Most of the time, we are not conscious about choosing the quality of our business relationships. Thus, we treat others from a posture of reactivity rather than presence. No one would dispute that cultivating positive relationships is good for business. Yet we spend almost no time and effort acquiring the habits and skills necessary to create harmonious relationships. I believe that compassion is a powerful business tool and leadership skill. Those that cultivate compassion will have a significant advantage over those that do not.

What about being too soft? When business people talk about being too soft or touchy feely, what they’re really worried about is either a fear of exploitation or a fear of confronting themselves. Our competitive, individualistic culture conditions us to believe that we’re self-reliant and able to stand alone without the help, support, or nurturing of others. Furthermore, to the extent that we need or seek help from others, we believe we show weakness. That weakness can be exploited against us and to other people’s advantage.

Compassion is not about weakness. The ability to show true compassion is neither soft nor touchy feely. It requires great inner strength, courage, and power. It is one of greatest gifts one human can bestow on another.

How does one develop the capacity for compassion? Here is a seven step process that I find useful for cultivating compassion in my peacemaking practice.

Lesson: What is the lesson I wanted to learn regarding this person and the conflict we are experiencing?

Aspect: What is the aspect of myself this person is reflecting back to me?

Gift: What is the gift this person is giving me by playing his or her role?

Acceptance: Can I accept the role that this person has played, along with their actions, to help me learn this lesson?

Allowing: Can I allow myself to let go of my anger towards this person who played the role to help me learn the lesson?

Release: Can I release this person from blame?

Kindness: Now that I have released this person, can I be kind to him/her, and if so, how can I do it and when will I do it?

The benefits of compassion include inner peace and joy, bountiful and prosperous relationships with others, and a sense of competency and control over one’s life. In a highly pressured business world, these are surely characteristics every successful person would strive for. However, as with many habits that are useful, developing compassion takes consciousness, effort, and practice. We each have an innate capacity for compassion, but must develop it like any other skill. If you decide to hone your capacity for compassion, exercise some compassion on yourself. You will make mistakes as you grow. Accept and cherish them because it is through these mistakes that you evolve into a compassionate leader.

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Douglas E. Noll, Esq. is a full time peacemaker and mediator specializing in difficult and intractable conflicts. In addition to being a lawyer, Mr. Noll holds a Masters Degree in Peacemaking and Conflict Studies. He has mediated and arbitrated over 1,200 cases, including a large number of construction, construction defect, and real estate matters involving tens of millions of dollars. He is a nationally recognized author, speaker, and lecturer on advanced peacemaking and mediation theory and practice. Mr. Noll is a Fellow of the International Academy of Mediators, a Fellow of the American College of Civil Trial Mediators, and on numerous national arbitration panels.

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 Robert        02/05/10 
 From Terrorism to Compassionate Humanness in The Age of Cosmic Genealogy 
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In 1859 Louis Pasteur disproved spontaneous generation of life, thus beginning the age of cosmic genealogy meaningfully characterized and defined by evolutionary panaltruism in shaping new vision and new direction for humanity: basic to life-centered cosmologies. Universal forelaws of empathy and compassion (empirical attributes of cosmic genealogy seated within the genome of humankind and all intelligent life) form the foundation of evolutionary panaltruism. Though today actively in denial of their own compassionate humanness, international terrorists remain genetically predisposed to assess and assume their rightful place in the compassionate/cooperative global society. Human unity is imperative in creating a democratically planned and shared global economy, in dealing with climate change, and in rolling back desertification on Earth. (see Global Water Equilibrium). Life-centered cosmologies - uplifting human vision and direction during a critical period for all life on Earth - build upon ongoing scientific research and discovery merging astrobiology and astronomy as pioneered and led by the late Sir Fred Hoyle, by N.. C. Wickramasinghe, Brig Klyce, Halton C. Arp, and others. "Life comes from space because life comes from life." . . . . . . . . . . "But in order for life to climb the tree to a higher level, new genetic programs are required - which mutation and recombination alone cannot supply. When they are supplied, a major advance may ensue. Thus, in strong panspermia, the problem of punctuated equilibrium is also resolved. . . . . . . A consequence of this reasoning is that life on Earth can have descended only from life elsewhere that was at least as highly evolved as it is here." - Brig Klyce, Astrobiology Research Trust As part and parcel of the physical unity of Nature, life-centered cosmologies reflect cognizance of the observable universe of humankind (13,000 million light years in all directions), of solar systems with and without intelligent life, and of global water equilibrium. New human vision and direction highlight NASA's Kepler Mission and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) aided by recent breakthrough technology suppressing the light of stars. Launched in March of 2009 to monitor 100,000 stars for orbiting Earth-size planets (adding to the number of exoplanets (400) already discovered), Kepler will be followed by Terrestrial Planet Finder, 2012-2015 and Darwin, 2014. Intelligent life reciprocally propagated from infinity to infinity by intelligent life, from habited sites to habitable sites, is a natural consequence of evolutionary panaltruism keyed as well to intrinsic needs of all intelligent life, i.e., to know from whence we came, safety and security, meaning and purpose. Exemplifying "concern for others and for those who will succeed us . . . . ." (Center for Naturalism), evolutionary panaltruism and holistic forelawsship at the core of the compassionate/cooperative global society, a democratically planned and shared global economy, global water equilibrium, and life-centered cosmologies, speak volumes for human oneness, indefinable potential, and optimism, in the age of cosmic genealogy on Earth. In forelawsship on board, Robert E. Cobb Forelaws on Board
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