Dr Walter Burki, a management consultant from Zurich, took my printing company with 125 employees through a cultural change programme. He helped me create a vision for the future of company, but most importantly carry the employees with me with a programme of workshops. His key phrases to us all were " speak your truth without fear" and "what really matters to you". Easier said than done! In a rare moment he agreed to be interviewed on the subject of visioning for the future. A rare insight into corporate thinking from this very inspiring man. Although this insight into visioning was with companies in mind, I always found it very helpful on a personal basis when I was trying to think about my own future. The key to this method was to "break out of the box" and bring some genuine change into my life.
No-one is suddenly going to find out the meaning of life. It could not be the result of a scientific discovery. We have to work out our own meaning as part of the process of self-discovery. We have to find out our talents and then use them to our best ability to hopefully leave the world a better place than we found it. Sigmund Freud said we find meaning from work and love, and this is what gives our life structure. Certainly, I found myself most content with life and motivated when I had a good job, with challenge and position. It gave me an identity
Although I have travelled the world on business and charity projects, I have always been a passionate gardener. With so many questions, issues and answers to consider in life, meditation or “just sitting” in a natural place has always been an important part of my daily existence.
The Taoist view of our existence is that we are part of a fundamental unity that is nature, a continuous flow that is “the Way” or Tao. One translation of a Chinese character depicting this was given to me many years ago by a dear friend. Translated, it is “How graceful it is to bend with the wind like corn”. The picture has taken pride of place in my office and inspired me for 45 years.
As a young man I was always curious about the deeper questions of life and about Eastern culture. As part of my degree at university I studied Existentialism, Metaphysics and Physics. I was struck by the nihilistic ideas of Nietzsche (God is dead) and the theories of Jean Paul Sartre (Being and Nothingness) This led me to study many of the philosophers and physicists that talked about the Universe and our existence and to write a thesis on “The concept of a person”. However, although I read and discussed much about the concept of body, mind and spirit, I realise on reflection that it did not help me understand reality or my spiritual side at all.
When I was a child, I was told that God created the world and that if I put my trust in Him, he would show me the way. If I lived a good life with Christian values I would go to Heaven. The first book I was given was Pilgrims Progress, which filled me with hope and inspiration.
It seems that everyone is talking about mindfulness and wellbeing these days. Not surprising after 10 years of austerity. Perhaps it is a good sign that people want to put it all behind them and be more positive. One definition given for wellbeing is “the experience of health, happiness, and prosperity. It includes having good mental health, high life satisfaction, and a sense of meaning or purpose.” Issues that affect us all.