Tea with the Dalai Lama

May 21, 2018

My life and career have allowed me to take a remarkable and sometimes unexpected journey over the last two decades. Working for a company like Corvias, I have learned about multiple industries, met people from across the United States, become a most-dedicated servant to military families, and created lasting professional and personal relationships that have helped me to grow as a person and as a member of our corporate team.

My supportive work environment and my company’s giving spirit have been demonstrated on a number of occasions, in the highs and the lows that arise throughout our adult lives. The time I spent with my family after a death, and the team I had behind me as I climbed Mount Rainier, to our company running teams that encouraged our health and teamwork over the years. Most recently, however, Corvias helped me to pursue an unexpected opportunity to travel to Dharamsala, India, for an audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama (as part of a delegation from the state of Washington). When I called John Picerne, our founder, to inquire if it was even a possibility, it was not a matter of IF I could go (in five days, during an extremely busy time) but how I would go. I was encouraged to set up the team to ensure that no priorities or deadlines were missed and to focus on taking advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

What happened next was certainly a transformative experience and one I am forever grateful for taking. It has already impacted how I work on a daily basis and how I consider the world around me.

Throughout our hour and 15 minute audience, we came to understand that like all of the Tibetans we met on this journey, the Dalai Lama, as a person, is a funny, joyful but strong, committed, and resilient being.  He is small and large at the same time, wrapped in his beautiful robes that look different from those other monks wear, even though they are not different. Despite his 80+ years, his face is smooth except for the crinkles around his eyes from what seems an almost permanent smile.

After greeting us all warmly and inviting us to sit, he asked that we all have tea! We settled in on small couches or chairs around his chair, cradling each cup of tea as if a gift.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama, as he is appropriately referred to, talked about the work we have yet to do, to promote “the oneness of all people.” For example, Tibet and China can find a solution and work together regarding the situation of Tibetans in exile (including himself) from their homeland, considered part of China. We discussed the strategic and environmental importance of Tibet and how the region both impacts and is impacted by global warming, as its fragile environmental condition affects the whole world, so we have a shared responsibility to protect it.

He expressed concern about people being controlled by anger and fear, being too reactive, instead of ensuring our minds work with our hearts, not in conflict. We must promote active compassion wherever we are for our own inner peace and for the betterment of society as a whole. It is important, however, not to infer that there was a message of simple kindness. Each Tibetan I met, including the Dalai Lama, has a strong work ethic and commitment to doing all they can to better themselves and others.  

I returned to Corvias forever changed. In the simplest of terms, I call it perspective. Witnessing such tactful, kind, and courageous people made it easier to understand how supporting each other not only makes all of us feel but also how it helps us to function. Having some of this perspective earlier in my career would have been helpful, but taking in lessons as we grow as leaders is perhaps the most important sign that we are still deserving of being leaders.

 

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