AL: You can’t draw an easy and clear line of cause and effect with compassion. It’s such a distributed, ethereal thing. It’s a quality that’s there. And we don’t really have metrics to measure it, so you might not notice because it’s not something we quantify. We don’t have a system in place to account for it, so I like the idea of the Compassion Quotient.
We focus so much on IQ, but what about the next generation? Will they be good neighbors? Will they be good citizens? How will they have meaningful lives and meaningful relationships? What’s the value of these things?
Will they get you a job? Maybe, maybe not. But, when you’re on your deathbed, will they lead you to smile, feeling like you lived in a meaningful way and you did what you could while you were here? It’s hard to say what matters more.
The Compassion Quotient is our capacity to offer ourselves, to respond with kindness again and again.
Q: Thank you Audrey. That reminds me of Mark Twain’s quote, “Kindness is the language the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” Qualities like kindness, friendship, compassion and courage are the qualities that define who we are, as humans, and propel us toward what we ought to be in this world.
Adding on to that, I’ve heard you use the phrase “lead with inner transformation.” What does it mean? And can you share a story from your own life?
It’s an interesting idea, because oftentimes we lead with impact or profit, or we’re motivated by changing some sort of structure in the world. And so inner transformation is like compassion, right? You can't really measure it. You can't copy and paste it, you can't replicate it. It’s something that happens when the time is right and you’re in a space where the conditions have ripened for you to transform in a beautiful way and as a person.
How do you lead with that and why do you lead with that? That seems like such a personal thing. We all have those moments in our lives where we might feel like something shifted in a very deep way and we almost never tie it to anything we do for a living, or anything we do to move and shake the world. Often times we just think of it as this very personal thing that was really meaningful in our lives. But why is that not the center of what we do, and how we engage, and how we operate in the world? Why is that just a thing on the side?
So, in some of the projects we are exploring, that has become the central question. Like how do we lead within our transformation? How do we design in a way that engages these values of compassion, of generosity, of kindness, and what does that look like?
I think it requires a certain degree of operating from a space of emergence. And actually, it’s very relevant now during the coronavirus pandemic, because we don’t really know. There is so much uncertainty in the world. How do we design for an uncertain future?
In a way, our future has always been uncertain, right? We might have a five-year plan but it gets revised every month. Or we might develop a business plan with target goals, and of course the targets always move; they are uncertain. So, why don’t we just say we don’t know what will happen, and it is an uncertain future. And we are banking on that uncertainty actually.
And how do we lead from a space where we are anchored in values, and that’s all that really matters? Are you leading from a space where all the projects you do are an excuse for these values to take form in some way? So, there have been a lot of ways this has surfaced.
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