Byron Katie

Interview met Byron Katie over de toekomst van leiderschap


Door: Lars Faber & Géke Dijkstra, ge-edit door Stephen Mitchell


Future leadership now


The most effective kind of leadership is leadership without competition. Competition is based on fear. But when you really love what you do, you don’t compare yourself with anyone. You just do your best. You live your passion.


Comparing yourself or your work with others is not efficient. But if you simply notice other people’s work and learn from it, it can be an experience of constant personal growth. And others will be attracted to you if you love what you do; they will be attracted by the authenticity of it. Then the quality of everyone and everything in your business begins to rise. We grow one another.




Without any sense of competition, you can be a great leader. It’s like what great athletes feel: they want their opponents to be playing their best. That’s how they themselves get better. They accomplish everything in the spirit of play. It’s a challenge. It’s a privilege, a joy. There’s no stress involved. The Tao Te Ching calls this “the virtue of non-competition.”


When you are confident in your own abilities and love who you are, you don’t have to compare yourself with others. What you do, how you live, comes straight from the heart. That’s the true leader: the one who loves what he or she does, who doesn’t look to the right or the left, but straight ahead. That’s the leader for all of us to follow.


In one way or another, our life is always about service. “How can I help?” For me, that’s the natural way, like breathing. And in an organization, it means that everyone is free. They’re totally invested in the company’s success. Everyone thinks they own the company, and they do! It’s all about serving people. It becomes our only job. Making money is secondary; the job is never about that.


People who love what they do support everyone around them, all the time. It’s not necessarily intentional. It comes naturally from their passion for their work. That’s what leadership is all about. It’s a natural and fearless act to support other human beings. Notice how it feels when you withhold yourself. It’s constricting. It doesn’t feel good. A fearless life—that’s our birthright.


With fear in your mind, you don’t think clearly. The more you free yourself of your fears, the less stress you fell, the more productive you are. You don’t put your energy into self-defense or self-protection. So you have a lot more energy available. And you can sleep at night, because you’ve worked well, not because you’re exhausted from your stress.


When people question their stressful thoughts enough to see the difference between what’s real and what’s not real, they begin to live in a state of enormous calm. What can be more attractive than someone who makes decisions fearlessly, someone whose very presence is a statement of trust? People know where you’re coming from. Trust inspires trust.


The most valuable tool


The most valuable leadership tool is an open, fearless mind. How do you open your mind?


By constant inquiry into the thoughts that cause you stress, thoughts like “I’m not good enough,” “He shouldn’t have done that,” “She’s incompetent,” “I need them to take responsibility,” “I’m not going to succeed in this project,” “He should admit his error.” Once you identify the stressful thoughts, you can see them for what they are. Investigate your stressful thoughts with the four questions of The Work:


1. Is it true?


2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?


3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?


4. Who would you be without the thought?


And then you turn the thought around to its opposite and find examples of how that turnaround is as true as or truer than your original statement. Inquiry is meditation; it takes stillness. You ask and wait. Then the wisdom that’s always inside you can enlighten your mind. You begin to notice options that weren’t there before you questioned the thought. The mind opens, the heart opens, and the stress begins to leave you. And you are left as a kinder, more caring, more intelligent human being.


With an open mind comes an open heart. That’s how it works. If you think of a moment in your life when your heart was shut down, and you look at what you were believing at that moment, you’ll realize that your mind was shut down. So the key to your heart is the mind.


And you can open the mind by questioning what you believe. Inquiry allows you to step into a deeper kind of intelligence, and everything shifts. And other people will benefit from that, because what’s good for you is good for everyone.


After you’ve done inquiry for a while, you can listen to any criticism without defense or justification, openly, delightedly. It’s the end of trying to control what can’t ever be controlled: other people’s perception. The mind rests, and life becomes kinder, and then totally kind, even in the midst of apparent turmoil. When you’re aware of being a student, everyone in the world becomes your teacher. This is part of leadership too: knowing how to follow reality, not forever trying to control the world with your ideas about what it should look like. In the absence of defensiveness, gratitude is all that’s left.