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The right eight for the right aid

In this world of high and continuous competition, business executives cannot just sit still and try their best to make the numbers. That is no longer good enough regardless of whether their firms are listed on the stock exchange. Many modern business management approaches have been developed and continuously evolved over the past 20 years.

With the New Year fast approaching, we should take a close look at what we have done over the these past 12 months. In this regard, I would like to share my views on what business executives should do in the future. What I consider to be a suitable approach for business management nowadays can be classified into three groups _ Mindful Awareness, Wisdom and Moral Discipline.

Mindful Awareness refers to being aware of what one is doing. Using such an approach, executives can address difficult business problems effectively. Mindful Awareness has three approaches:

a) Right Mindfulness refers to being aware of one's thoughts, feelings, body and the business issues being faced. Without mindfulness, people will behave by instinct in accordance with their own mental models, which is suitable most of the time. But when tough decisions must be made during major crises such as the 2011 flooding or even small personal matters such as being later for a meeting due to traffic, business executives must practise mindfulness, being aware of each moment of a particular issue.

b) To be ready for any circumstance, you need Right Concentration, which in this context means meditation. When people meditate, they go deep inside and become aware of themselves to varying degrees, depending on the individual. Meditating regularly and continuously will improve productivity for long-term results. Practicing Right Mindfulness is a good start, but executives must sustain and enhance mindful ability with meditation as well. Top international companies such as Google and General Mills already recognise the value of this powerful technique.

For specificity, Right Concentration or meditation can be subdivided into two categories _ concentration and insight mediation. For business executives who are more concerned with results-oriented performances, practising concentration meditation is what I am referring to in this article. Insight meditation is best for those looking for spiritual solutions.

c) Right Effort refers to persistence in hard work even in the face of daunting obstacles and a low probability of success. Moving along this path, executives must have high stamina on top of being mindful.

Another main approach I would suggest is having the Right View, which refers to understanding business models and what should or should not be done both short and long term. Executives may wish to aim for high growth and healthy profits, but these must be based on reality, on whether such goals can be reached.

Following the Right View is Right Intentions, both of which fall under the Wisdom category since they require a cognitive ability to understand the world around us. Right Intention as a management approach is defined as doing no harm to others while performing properly in this material world we live in.

The next three paths fall under Moral Discipline. Right Speech entails maintaining proper conversation at all times.

There should be no ill-intentioned words such as verbal abuse, gossip, lies, half-truths, harsh speech or white lies. Positive thinking and words of wisdom should be encouraged among employees in order to foster a good environment. Executives who consistently behave properly will be recognised as good role models while strengthening the desired corporate culture.

The next approach is Right Action, which refers to abstaining from all wrongdoing, behaving ethically and following proper etiquette. Top executives applying this guidance properly will run their business in accordance with their company's code of conduct. Corporate governance and ethical standards are always embedded in their minds and corporate cultures to be the backbone of their businesses.

The last guidance is Right Livelihood, which means abstaining from running a business that can harm others. In broad terms, it typically refers to all illegal businesses in which normal people are not involved.

But specifically, depending on individual conditions this can be applied to any business they should not be involve in if they believe it will hurt others or society at large.

Applying these "Right Eight for the Right Aid" can help executives to achieve their goals while making peace and mindfulness internally. These eight conceptual guides are applied from the Buddhist Noble Eightfold Path but adapted in a way that business executives can apply to their typical business life. Therefore, the sequence of this Right Eight is not in the same order as is typical, which would mainly guide laymen on the path to spiritual awareness and release from suffering.

May I wish you all a prosperous and healthy life throughout the year 2014 and beyond.

Happy New Year!

Sorayuth Vathanavisuth is principal consultant and executive coach in the Center for Southeast Asia Leadership and lectures in Mahidol University's College of Management. His areas of interest are corporate strategy, executive coaching and leadership development. He can be reached at