Zen In The Corporate World: Part Two

A Practice Story
Submitted by a Zen Student at Kannon Do

“Where do you see yourself in ten years?” This is a typical question asked during job interviews and performance reviews. Often times the answer entails some description of seniority, functional role or other professional context the individual aspires to. In job interviews, the answer gives clue to the advancement of candidacy. In performance reviews, it steers the direction of career development for the employee.

“Where do you see yourself in ten years?” It is a question that I have a hard time answering for years. Reflecting upon it, I can come up with a few politically correct ones – be a CXO of a Fortune company, be a leader of a small to medium size company, be a successful entrepreneur. Now, what is the reason that I should pursue any of this? Because of the compensation leading to security and a different lifestyle, social status to prove I win, affection it buys, recognition of my value, position of influence allowing me to control my fate?

“Where do you see yourself in ten years?” Is it the wrong question, or am I understanding it the wrong way?

Over time I realize that everyone and everything inter-relate in some way. I am never alone even during times of solitude. “It” – the universe, the Tao, the God, the Buddha, Ali, or whatever label one chooses – is wise and benevolent. It has its way of taking care of itself and everything in it in a harmonious manner. It, with everything and everyone in it, is inherently beautiful.

When this realization starts to sink in, acceptance arises which sets the foundation for confidence and strength. Acceptance is not to be confused with indolence. Confidence is not to be confused with self-defense and self-deceit mechanisms to project an image. The drive to prove oneself in whatever way – being right, superior, liked, or respected – is replaced by honesty and courage to face oneself, and the pure enthusiasm to live fully at the moment.

The trust in “It” having a wise and benevolent will dissipates the need to control one’s fate. While I still pursue my ideals with vigor, no longer is there the need for a planned trajectory. When life takes an unexpected turn, I have faith we would deal. Life unfolds itself; changes are embraced and leveraged.

The experience of inter-relatedness gives rise to a sense of intimacy. There is the awareness of the underlying link between all of us. Whatever my professional journey takes me, I am nobody without giving value to the world, and the world is a lesser place without me. This is the special place that the drive to actualize self meets the heart to create value for the world.

“Where do you see yourself in ten years?” No different from where I am now. That is to fully occupy my space, to actualize all gifts I am bestowed with, to realize the meaning of my life, to create value – whatever shape and form, however big and small – to make the world a better place.