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Fearless at Work: Timeless Teachings for Awakening Confidence, Resilience, and Creativity in the Face of Life's Demands Paperback – November 13, 2012
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Expanding on the theme of meditation as a conduit to professional and personal fulfillment that he established in his first two books (Awake at Work, 2004; Mindful Leader, 2008), Carroll focuses here on developing fearlessness, an approach to life and the work we do characterized by “delight and courage.” Here, the author bases the framework of his book around slogans, catchy phrases like “Command gracefully” and “Be, see, do,” that are distillations of broader philosophical concepts Carroll both discusses at greater length and encourages his reader to use as meditational focal points. Capitalizing on his experience working in the finance and publishing industries and on his work as a meditation teacher, Carroll presents ideas from a range of Buddhist traditions and Eastern philosophies in a manner that is easy to understand, particularly for the more business-minded reader. Those looking to apply a spiritual approach to their work life without delving too deeply into Buddhist teachings will find a straightforward method to doing so here. --Taina Lagodzinski
“Valuable lessons in real connection for the ‘Facebook generation,’ Fearless at Work offers practical guidance for taming our minds and approaching work—and life—with confidence and humor. An essential resource for reshaping our modern day approach to livelihood.”—Deborah Dugan, CEO, (RED)
“Michael Carroll is among the wisest, sharpest, and most skillful individuals I have ever known. Utterly trustworthy, profound, and pragmatic, this new book expresses in beautiful language how to use Buddhist principles to transform our work life into a source of confidence, goodness, and happiness.”—Susan Piver, author of The Wisdom of a Broken Heart
“Michael Carroll’s Fearless at Work is a valuable book for our time. It is an infusion of intelligence and deep sanity into a subject that, for many, has become a daily experience of relative madness. Michael seems to effortlessly harmonize his mature understanding of Buddhist teachings and practice with the everyday—and very real—challenges of life and livelihood. His message is provocative and serious, yet lighthearted, in the lively teaching style of his teacher Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Michael’s many years of study and deep experience in both Buddhist practice and the workplace come shining forth in these pages.”—Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Sensei, Abbot, Fire Lotus Temple, Zen Center of New York City
“Michael Carroll helps me to be aware not only of what I’m doing at work but also how I am doing it—and most importantly, how I am in the midst of it all. Approaching livelihood with this kind of awareness is exactly what we need in the modern day workplace because, as Fearless at Work makes clear, being delightfully courageous in what we do makes all the difference.”—Barry Boyce, Editor-in-Chief, Mindful.org
“Neuroscience continues to show how mindfulness awareness practice promotes health and well-being—and, as a longtime Buddhist practitioner and former executive, Michael shows us a path for rediscovering our natural fearlessness and for learning to trust our true being. Fearless at Work can make a big difference in your work and life.”—Yi-Yuan Tang, PhD, Director of Texas Tech University Neuroimaging Institute and Presidential Endowed Chair in Neuroscience
“Fearless at Work tackles the challenge of spiritual development in an extraordinary setting—the workplace—while focusing on the greatest disabler in that domain: fear. The book offers valuable guidance for developing a personal meditative practice in order to be fully present for the people we serve as leaders and colleagues, so vital in these times of dramatic change in our shared global workplace. Fearless at Work is a hugely valuable guide for spiritual practitioners at work!”—Richard Bowles, PhD, Former Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer, Merck & Co.
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Well, there is. And it doesn't require you to change your boss, your company, the country's tax structure, or anything else in the environment around you.
It does, however, require you to be open to how you experience the work place...and to have the courage to engage the things that make us afraid as opportunities for growth.
With me so far? But wondering how a book can do that?
Like Awake at Work: 35 Practical Buddhist Principles for Discovering Clarity and Balance in the Midst of Work's Chaos, Fearless at Work enables this shift through a series of slogans. You can read the book cover to cover, but it's easier once you've read the initial chapters to just pick a slogan at random for the day: read it, let it percolate. Do that, and you'll find the day unfolding in a different way. What would have been upsetting might now occur as interesting, amusing, an opportunity to do something you couldn't have before, etc. ...or not; it doesn't always work that way, but maybe it will the next day. Each chapter has a different slogan, illustrated in a charming, perspective-shifting way. The chapters are short and easy to read and add a LOT to the slogan once you're read them--kind of like an Aesop's Fable's experience.
"Don't Count on It" is a good example. Neat slogan...but what does it mean? Think about how many of us keep score, and how score-oriented our world is. But at best, scores are a proxy for the real thing...and focusing too much on them actually divorces us from the juice in life. The author gives us a memorable story from his family that we can all relate to, and then observes "Making deals with our world and keeping score seems so reasonable and appropriate at times, but such a scorecard mentality offers nothing but frustration and, in the end, is a coward's game. The slogan 'Don't count on it' encourages us to fully appreciate the futility and hypocrisy of our scorecard mentality...we choose to examine our false hope of keeping score because it is noble to be so honest with ourselves."
Here's another way to think about it. Suppose you were a well-seasoned executive and senior spiritual teacher all rolled into one. Someone like that would experience our daily frustrations in a different way, right? Maybe with compassion for those around him/her, and also for him/herself...and thereby waste less energy in things that can't be changed, and have more insight into and energy for those that can? Wouldn't it be near to borrow the eyes/ears/heart of such a person from time to time, so we could develop that calm courage ourselves?
That's what Fearless at Work does. Not surprising, given that Michael Carroll is both a high level executive and spiritual teacher.
Enjoy...not just the book, but your work as well. With this and Awake at Work, that's a serious possibility.
The first slogan is: Face the Fierce Facts of Life. I love this one. So basic. Its subparts: it hurts to be human, anything can and does happen, we are born and die alone, we are going to die - soon - and when we do, most of the world won't notice and those who do will forget . . . often. This makes me smile . . . broadly, and reminds me of what I love about Buddhism - the no-nonsense realism.
Slogan 27 is to Hold Sadness and Joy. Very wise. Here Carroll talks about noble tenderness and tells a story about rescuing an injured sparrow as a boy, becoming attached to the bird, then seeing it fly off, never to return. There is a built-in poignancy to life that requires a fearless vulnerability to be fully experienced.
This book also has some excellent appendices. I particularly appreciated the ones on mindfulness meditation and how mindfulness cultivates social intelligence. One result is the capacity to give total attention and listen fully to another, understanding the other rather than just making our own point. Another result is learning how to be rather than learning what to do, thereby being at ease with who we are under all circumstances.