Bringing the Buddha to Business

Many people are looking at new models for business and business relationships.

And while the Buddha himself did not own a business, he left us with a number of teachings that can provide insight into new and more fulfilling ways of achieving success in business.  In my work with companies large and small I offer these simple lessons from the Buddha for consideration as part of a company’s culture:


  1. Take Personal Responsibility: That’s right, take personal responsibility for everything you do and everything that happens to you. If operations dropped the ball and now a client is mad, remember the ball dropped on you as well. When we take 100% responsibility for everything that happens to us, we become empowered change agents, not victims.
  2. Cause and Effect is Strict: In fact, according to the Buddha, it’s a law. And this law tells us that every good deed will be rewarded – eventually. And every bad deed will be punished. This goes hand in glove with another of the Buddha’s teachings that “unseen virtue brings visible reward.” In other words when we act not out of obligation but out of a sense of responsibility and a strong sense of what is right or best for the situation, we get rewarded — even when no one is looking.
  3. Having a Heart of Service: The Buddha said, “To light a lamp for another will brighten your own way.” In other words, helping others get what they want is the most certain way of getting what you want as well. This is true whether inside a company or working with clients or vendors. The more we care about others, the deeper, more authentic connection we can make. Everything in business is ultimately about person to person relationships – connections.

  4. All Things Are Interconnected and Interdependent: From the Buddha’s standpoint, our lives are not contained solely within our bodies but actually radiate out in all directions throughout the universe. Therefore our lives intersect everyone else’s. That means that your happiness is my happiness, and my sorrow is your sorrow. So, what does this mean in business? It means that no person is an island and we all rely upon and are relied upon by others in ways large and small. So why not seek to find win-win outcomes for our department, our company, our customers, our vendors and ourselves?

  5. What You Believe is Critical: Buddhism says that life and the changes and results we want in our lives are an “inside job.” Your belief system determines your world view, your actions and level of happiness and success. So if you don’t believe in your company’s product or service, why would anyone else? If you believe you can achieve success, you’re more likely to be able to create it than if you didn’t. This is known as the Buddhist concept of the “oneness of life and its environment.” If my life and my environment are like body and shadow then if I bow, my shadow must bow in response. And as my wise Buddhist friend says, “If you think you are eagle but you are surrounded by turkeys, chances are you are a turkey.”  So if you don’t like what your environment is telling you, it’s time to change yourself first.

What do you think?