I recently finished reading Compassionate Capitalism: A Journey to the Soul of Business by Blaine Bartlett and David Meltzer. At the heart of the book's message is that business can be used as a vehicle for helping others, and improving the world around us. One of the interesting perspectives from the book was their definition of leadership:

[Leadership is] the activity of causing coordinated movement that produces actions necessary for the desired results.

We typically think of leaders as people being at the top of an organizational hierarchy, but everyone in an organization can be a leader according to this definition. Leadership doesn't arise from assuming a role, it arises from using one's role to further the objectives of the organization.

The book also explains how compassionate leaders can make sure their values are aligned with the organization:

We don’t necessarily rise to the level of our expectations. As mentioned previously, we fall to the level of our practices. Every value has a behavioral analogue. What does trust look like behaviorally? Let’s practice that behavior. What does love in a business look like? Let’s practice that behavior. Let’s identify what that behavior is and then personally practice it and insist that others in the organization practice it as well.

Every value has a behavioral analogue. What are the organization's or team's values? And how can we engender them in our behavior?

Saying no to yourself

Subjecting yourself to self-imposed discipline is the surest way to increase the quality of your existence. – Nun Amen-Ra

Achievement requires the discipline to do what is necessary. It's easy to live at the expense of our aspiration, but saying no is necessary to transcend the fear, habit, and desire that block the path to personal progress.

The brave say no to fear. The healthy say no to vice. The prolific say no to leisure. The disciplined are confident, for they have fulfilled the promises made to themselves. The disciplined are at peace resting in the rhythm of their accomplishments.

The map is not the territory

The rules are just lines on a map. They’re made up. Someone else drew them. Rules aren’t made to be broken, but it’s worth remembering that they’re always approximations. Rules are what someone else wants you to do. But they don’t limit what’s possible. Opportunity lies outside the lines and off the map. Opportunity is in the wilderness.

Breaking through

Your barriers aren’t physical, they’re mental. We’re limited by the stories we tell ourselves. But stories are made up. You can change yours. Write your own. What are the stories you’ve told yourself so many times you no longer realize you’re listening? Uncover those and you’ll uncover the assumptions holding you back.


It takes patience to listen. It takes empathy. But most importantly it takes silence. You need space to absorb, and time to reflect. Finding the right moment to act requires waiting for it. You must listen and wait to choose the battle worth fighting.

You can’t take it with you

Remember you can’t take anything with you. All you have is how you feel about yourself. Avoid regret by seizing your opportunities. Eliminate guilt by treating people well, and making amends for any harm you cause. Avoid disappointment by doing your best, and be grateful for the good that’s come your way.

Make something every day

We get better by doing. So make something every day, no matter how small. As we get better at making we’re able to make greater things. We’ll never reach a point where it’s easy, but we’ll learn to face our fears and live with them. That’s critical, because we can’t create without uncertainty, rejection, and failure. Accept fear and push forward.


Buddhists point out that we don’t know when karma will ripen and we will reap its fruit (or poison). Everything we do, no matter how small, has an effect. It’s easy to forget this because we often aren’t around for the results of our actions. Just as one small drop can make a ripple, our actions as individuals can have far-reaching effects.

So take care in what you do. You don’t know when the details will matter.

Garbage in, garbage out

Programmers have a saying, “garbage in, garbage out.” It means poor quality inputs produce poor quality results. It’s the same with our mind. What we fill our heads with influences our thoughts, creations, and solutions. Feed your brain junk and your thoughts will consist of junk.

Ask yourself if the podcast, book, news, or whatever is nutritious brain food. If not, go focus on something else.

New frontiers

It’s easy to ignore what’s right in front you when looking to apply yourself. But there’s so much value you can add today with what you already have, and what you’re already doing. Before seeking new frontiers invest in where you are. Have you done everything you can with your work? Your relationships? Yourself?