Posted by: Knightbird | November 22, 2011

More on Mindfulness

In my blog about the Ohno circle, I speculated about the possible role of mindfulness in suspending criticism and blame. Mindfulness has been practiced in Buddhist tradition for many centuries. However, in the past 30 years mindfulness has been segregated from religious and spiritual connection. As I have been searching for healing modalities for unresolved childhood trauma, I have seen a critical connection between mindfulness and Lean. Here is a quote from an article I read recently.

The article was written by Michael Carrol and titled “At Work, Don’t Be A Don’t-Know-It-All.” His premise is that we do everything we can to convince our co-workers and others that we know all there is about doing the work we do. As a result he says, we keep our “work-related quandries to ourselves.” He goes on to say:

“The fact is that we cannot avoid “not-knowing”; we simply don’t know a lot of the time. Because work is messy and full of surprises, we are constantly presented with not knowing what is going on or about to happen. Since this feels uncomfortable and uncertain, we grasp for answers in order to feel sure of ourselves. But being uncomfortable and uncertain need not be seen as a weakness or problem that needs an immediate answer. If we pause and examine closely, we might take the advice offered in the classic Zen teaching “Only don’t know” and discover that not knowing is a tremendous resource for being effective and innovative at work.”

If we accept that we don’t know something, we are free to see the problems and collaborate on solving those problems. If we rely on our past and cannnot see the future, we try to apply the solutions that we think we know from the past. We use consultants who we believe have answers instead of accepting what we don’t know and take the first steps to becoming Lean scientists. If we accept what is and don’t blame other for the messy we encounter, we become free to separate from that past method of doing things and seek scientifically validated ways of doing our work. By being in the present, and not mired in the past, we have nothing we need to defend. It is what it is, and we no longer try to protect our part in molding that past. We can let go. We can move forward.

The greatest difficulty I encounter with Executive leaders is their defensiveness. They are not willing to look at new ways of doing things. What they have done in the past tells them that substantial improvement is not feasible, and that they have to bring ideas from their past to the workplace in order to improve it.

The article is from the book titled “The Mindfulness Revolution” edited by Barry Boyce and published by Shambhala Publications in 2011. If you want to learn how a true Lean Transformation occurs, learning mindfulness can, in my opinion, help,


  1. Can you please explain what the word Lean means?
    Thank you

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