In a small, pea-green carpeted room on the 22nd floor of the Nakameguro GT building, Dr. Barry Kerzin, wrapped in his characteristic robe, warmly welcomes each and every participant, shaking hands and inviting them to take a seat. It is here at Unilever Japan where the Buddhist Monk and medical doctor, known affectionately as ‘Dr. Barry,’ will be holding his much-anticipated workshop.
“Today we talk about how to maximize our human potential,” he starts, with a quiet but steady voice, vibrant and reassuring. The audience is mesmerized and silence envelopes the room immediately. Beyond the windows behind him, the city of Tokyo stretches as far as the eye can see, mute and distant, as if it were a scene from another planet.
“How many of you are clear with the purpose of your life?” Dr. Barry asks everyone, tongue in cheek, and around the room a few timid hands rise mid air. His deep green eyes silently scan the audience as they consider his question.
“I’m here like you all, to seek some clarity and some answers about social responsibility in Global Leadership.”
The workshop, titled Global Leadership for Educators and Teachers, went onto explore global leadership and practices that can enhance it. Held under the auspice of the Human Values Institute and Unilever Japan, the core tenet of this workshop is to cultivate happiness, resilience, and compassion towards oneself and others.
While it seems fairly clear, we more often than not forget that it takes more than just charm, wealth, and charisma for one to become a great role model, let alone a Global leader. To become a Global Leader, Dr. Barry asserts, would require integrity, honesty and a great sense of responsibility.
“These are all qualities we all aspire to,” says Dr. Barry, “but everyone here, including myself, don’t have this in mind all the time.”
For Dr. Barry, responsibility goes beyond just executing complicated tasks and making tough decisions. Truly responsible leaders must love and take care of one another—not only to those who are close, but “every living thing, including animals and the environment.”
“It’s not easy,” the medical academic said, his tone now more assertive. “But it’s possible. It involves a social concern for common human issues. Leadership means integrity and honesty—towards others as well as yourself. If we are honest with ourselves and with others, we will respect ourselves more and obtain respect from others as well.”
Another core component of becoming a great leader, according to Dr. Barry, is transparency, “the opposite of hypocrisy.”
“Honesty leads directly to respect,” Dr. Barry reminds the audience. “And respect leads to trust, which generates self confidence, on a personal level, and worth, as a matter of projections towards those who stand next to us.”
“Physician,” “philosopher” and “Buddhist monk” are titles one would not normally associate together, but Dr. Barry is all of these, and so much more. Since his ordination as a monk by His Holiness the Dalai Lama XIV, Dr. Barry has travelled around the world and completed many meditation retreats, teaching and offering workshops on love, compassion, and altruism.
“These values constitute the essential pillar for responsible global leadership,” he continues. “It naturally implies a selfless attitude, to shift focus from me to us. A deeper happiness derives from such change.”
To achieve this change, the monk insists, it takes deep internal reflection and disciplinary focus. After giving an intellectual rundown on the benefits and practicality of mediation, Dr. Barry concluded the lecture with this piece of advice for us to take home.
“Like an expert chess player, clarity of vision in your present moment will allow you to make better plans for the future,” Dr. Barry reiterates.
“Develop an attitude in which you can see kindness coming from every individual around you. Focusing on one’s self is egotistical, focusing on others makes you humble. By doing that you automatically build character, you will gain the people’s trust, and they will want you to be a global leader.”
The seminar followed with a Q and A session, group discussions and a meditation workshop. True leadership comes from within, and to become a responsible leader requires honesty, integrity, and compassion. In what was a perfect end to Golden Week, the Global Leadership workshop served as a timely reminder for us all on the importance of altruism and how it nurtures leadership, giving attendees a fresh new impetus to discuss not just what it means to become a leader, but to educate one another to become better human beings.
For those interested in Buddhist teachings and philosophies, Dr. Kerzin will be holding two seminars this Sunday, the 22nd of May at Akihabara and at the Zensuido kaikan on Monday, the 23rd. You can visit the Human Values Institute website for more details and registration.