Self compassion for better work culture

A mighty challenge that change agents grapple with is spearheading cultural transformations in organizations. Perhaps, more than with systems or process transformations, cultural transformations form a unique challenge because the greatest variable of all is a key part of the equation: humans.

The term ‘culture’ itself is very much linked to community. Throughout history we encounter cultures identified with a sect, religion or states. But it’s hard to find something like an ‘individual culture’- at least nothing that’s not related to a wider community. Facilitating a cultural transformation then calls for fostering better interpersonal relationship among the team members.

A wonderfully counter-intuitive method to aid cultural transformation is put forward by the Leadership and Culture expert, Lorne Rubis in his blog. The method is self-compassion.

The premise here is that unless you could be compassionate with yourself, you couldn’t be empathetic with others. And empathy forms the bedrock of strong relations.

An age-old approach

Self-compassion: rooted in mystical traditions

A concept derived from Buddhism, some of most pioneering works on self-compassion in the modern era was done by Kristin Neff- an Associate Professor with the Dept. of Educational Psychology at the University of Texas, Austin.

Lorne quotes Neff as saying self-compassion leads you to feel the desire to help someone in distress. Understanding, kindness and the ability to give yourself the freedom to be human- to accept that you have flaws, that you are prone to make mistakes like anyone else- these are all attributes of self-compassion, she says.

While backing Neff’s views, Lorne also cautions not to confuse self-compassion with such attributes as self-esteem and self-indulgence.

Self compassion and psychological well being

More than just a theoretical idea, self compassion has been proven to have a strong connection to psychological well being by modern science. Those with evolved self-compassion are found to be happier, have better emotional intelligence and life satisfaction. And yes, they also tend to be part of wider social circles. This latter aspect is perhaps most linked to using self-compassion as a tool for spurring meaningful cultural transformations.

Self-compassion being such a useful strategy for individual well-being and by extension a strong, spiritually healthy team or community, what are the ways in which self-compassion could be nurtured?

How to nurture self-compassion?

One way to develop self-compassion is to treat yourself like you would a child when you are mentally hurt. Everyone seems to know instinctively to soothe a child when s/he has fallen down and hurt a knee. So, using the same approach towards yourself could be an effective strategy towards better self-compassion.

Mindfulness, or the practice of observing the thoughts as and when they arise in your mind without being judgemental is another method to cultivate self-compassion. Many a time, we get into a negative-thinking loop, getting harshly critical with ourselves. Mindfulness would help you identify the unwantedly critical thoughts, and eventually help you weed them out. This idea is also inherent in the Clean Slate sessions from Temenos. The idea with Clean Slate is to help you lose the negative thoughts and apprehensions that might be holding you back from becoming a better change agent. The Clean Slate sessions also form part of the Temenos Vision Lab(TVL) which is aimed at  helping you find your True Personal Vision, which in turn helps to lead the team better. TVL also helps a team define its Compelling Shared Vision.

Also, while you struggle with the all too human challenges which pull you down, recall that you are not alone in the experience. Fumbling at something, not meeting your own expectations at a task-these are things which form part of the collective human experience. Rather than seeing such instances as failures, it’s better to view them for what they are- simply the reality of being human.

This notion of collectivism is something that Temenos exhorts. The training events meant for change agents which Temenos holds reflect this ideology. Whether it be the Temenos Vision Lab, the informal meetups, the Agility workshops or the Scaling Agile Coaching retreats among other events, they are all avenues for both learning and bonding with a wider community. For making connections, exchanging ideas and sharing knowledge nurture an enterprise culture that’s vibrant and motivational.

Self-compassion leads to better relations with others

Self-compassion, and self-reflection could be seen as underlying themes throughout all these events. Buddhist psychology posits seven key psychological characteristics in humans: wisdom, imagination, power, life, understanding, order and will. With unique methodologies born from decades-long business consultation experience, and incorporating sound psychological principles, by bringing together like-minded people across industries in a serene and intellectually stimulating environment, the Temenos events strive to encourage a wilful acceptance of all these characteristics, and then excel as a change agent.

Disclaimer: The ideas discussed here are strictly for general information, and shouldn’t be taken as therapeutic methods. 

Kristin Neff speaking about the space between self-esteem and self-compassion

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For change agents and leaders, not to benefit from meaningful events and gatherings is a missed opportunity! We invite you to indulge in some of the most transformational events from Temenos; designed with hard-earned understanding, organized just for you.

Temenos Vision Lab- Online ( June 29, 2018)

We invite you to this special gathering, which brings together a group of wonderful people who fill workplaces with joy and energy. By connecting with each other, you embark on a journey that leads to better clarity about the changes you seek, gain collaboration opportunities and leave with a concrete action plan.

Temenos Vision Lab- Amsterdam, Netherlands( Nov 2, 2018)

Another venue to take an exquisite inner journey, to find your true Vision.

Temenos Effect Gathering 2018- Bengaluru, India(Dec 8 to Dec 9, 2018)

An event dedicated to the idea of personal mastery, for nurturing your beautiful self, for change agents and leaders to become their true selves.

For more details, visit our website -

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