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Walking the Middle Path




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The following article was written by Tanis Helliwell, M. Ed., author of Take Your Soul to Work is the founder of the International Institute for Transformation (http://www.iitransform.com) whose mission is to assist people to live and work with meaning and purpose.

Walking the Middle Path

"With every door that closes a new door opens but those hallways sure are a pain."

To achieve a balanced life we must learn to walk the middle path. In Mahayana Buddhism the middle path is the balance between wisdom and compassion. Christian mystics call the middle path "via media," and Hebrews refer to it as "the good way."

By walking this middle path in our life and work, we also create harmony between the goals of our personality and those of our soul. This means that our personality might enjoy owning a house and a car, while at the same time our soul enjoys doing meaningful work that will foster a healthy planet inhabited by happy humans in good relationship with other beings. Can you have both? Of course you can, however, to do so you must able to take the middle path between the head and the heart.

Balancing the Head and the Heart

Tom Chappell, president of Tom's of Maine, bases his business on the principle of the middle path between the head and the heart-facts and feeling:

I've found the middle way for Tom's of Maine, where we use both our head and heart, is in planning business strategies. We make room for spirit in the world of commerce. We have two aims, one that serves the individual, and one that serves the common good....Your personal values can be integrated with managing all the traditional goals of business-making money, expanded market share, increased profits, retained earnings, and sales growth. Not only can your personal beliefs be brought to work, they can work for you.

Balancing Fate and Free Will

The middle path is also the balance between fate and free will. Our soul has a purpose, a destiny, but our personality has free will to choose how to manifest this in our life and work. Some of our choices might be better than others. Yet, by observing the consequences of our choices, we gradually become conscious creators in the world. By walking the middle path we learn neither to overuse, nor under-use, our wills. When we overuse our will we inflate our ego and choose goals that serve only our personality. We are driven by a desire for money, status and prestige. If we succeed, we are not content, but want more. And, if we fail, we blame others for having betrayed us.

Just as overusing our will deviates from the middle path, so does under-using it. When we set our sights too low, we are afraid that we can't achieve our soul's goal. Like those with inflated egos, we are allowing the personality-and not the soul-to run our lives.

Management consultant Ken Blanchard, talks in his book The Power of Ethical Management, about the problem both of under-using, and overusing our free will in the workplace. In the following passage Blanchard states how this may occur with managers, and I believe his comments are relevant to all of us:

Someone once told me that ego stands for "edging God out." ....and it's interesting to see how self-doubt and false pride play out in managers. When they are addicted to either ego affliction, it erodes their effectiveness. Managers dominated by self-doubt are the "do-nothing bosses." They are described as never around, always avoiding conflict and not very helpful. Under pressure they seem to defer to whoever has the most power. At the other end of the spectrum are the "controllers." These are managers dominated by false pride. Even when they don't know what they are doing, they have a high need for power and control. Even when it's clear to everyone that they are wrong, they keep on insisting they are right.

In the final analysis, to not use our God-given talents and abilities is just as bad as using them for our own ends. Both extremes are a misuse of our power. To find the appropriate use of our gifts it helps to take the middle path between the needs of our personality and our soul. If we take this approach, we help others to build their self-esteem so they, too, can more fully use their gifts in the world.















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