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I found an article this morning when thinking about compassion. I wanted to define it more and I understand too that there is a huge need for compassion not only with our family and friends; also in the workforce. This article jumped out at me when I saw the Dalai Lama’s name in the first paragraph.

Although the article was centered on the workplace, I believe it needs to be a way we all conduct our life:

The best definition of compassion I know comes from the eminent Tibetan scholar Thupten Jinpa. Jinpa is also the long-time English translator for the Dalai Lama. He has a charmingly mellow and gentle voice, so the Dalai Lama mischievously makes gentle fun of it every now and then (“See, I have deep booming voice, but this guy, his voice so soft,” the Dalai Lama would say, and they would all laugh out loud).

Jinpa defines compassion as follows: “Compassion is a mental state endowed with a sense of concern for the suffering of others and aspiration to see that suffering relieved.”

Specifically, he defines compassion as having three components:

1. A cognitive component: “I understand you”

2. An affective component: “I feel for you”

3. A motivational component: “I want to help you”

The most compelling benefit of compassion in the context of work is that compassion creates highly effective leaders. To become a highly effective leader, you need to go through an important transformation. Bill George, the widely respected former CEO of

puts it most succinctly, calling it going from “I” to “We.”

This shift is the transformation from “I” to “We.” It is the most important process leaders go through in becoming authentic. How else can they unleash the power of their organisations unless they motivate people to reach their full potential? If our supporters are merely following our lead, then their efforts are limited to our vision and our directions… Only when leaders stop focusing on their personal ego needs are they able to develop other leaders.

The practice of compassion is about going from self to others. In a way, compassion is about going from “I” to “We.” So if switching from “I” to “We” is the most important process of becoming an authentic leader, those who practice compassion will already know how and will have a head start. Published by the Greater Good Science Center of UC Berkeley.

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