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“So, what are you taking with you?”

I asked a friend who’s currently on sabbatical what changes she’s taking with her when she goes back to work. Does she have a list of productivity tips? Ten new management techniques? No.

Her new essentials include the yoga practice she’s fallen in love with and time carved out for friends. The activities that keep her tender and open hearted.

Too often, we delay admitting our needs because we don’t want to appear fragile. Yet the sensitivity we’ve discussed in the July series, Quiet Reflection, Effective Action, is the core of our being. Here’s how a young woman described her startling insight about her family in a Humans of New York profile:

When I was six months old, I was dropped off at an orphanage in Northern China with a little note pinned on my shirt. It only had the name of my village. The orphanage named me Gaoanna, which translates to “Girl From High Mountains.”

My mother decided to adopt me after she received my picture in the mail. She was 45 at the time. She had recently gotten divorced. She’d never had children. So it’s just been the two of us my whole life.

I remember one time in high school, we got in an argument and my Mom got very emotional. She started crying and said, “We can’t fight. It’s just the two of us. We have to stick together.”

At that moment, I realized how much I had changed my Mom’s life. She’d known from the start, of course. But it was something I needed to learn.

This month we’ve learned how vulnerability is a quiet, constant presence.

  • Margaret Heffernan’s story in “Have You Met Yourself?” showed that successfully navigating tough situations doesn’t start with putting on a game face. It begins by knowing ourselves.
  • In “Believe With Your Whole Heart”, we met Cory, who was recently laid off from his dream job. He could have adopted a cynical “What’s in it for me?” mindset. Instead, he was being challenged to keep his heart open.
  • Is That All?” demonstrated that doubling down on our most fearful beliefs doesn’t keep us safe. The limits we carefully craft over time often become limitations.

If you’re going to be a good boss of anything or anyone, you must start by being a good boss of yourself. That’s what being a Soul Boss is about. The secret is to shift from intellectual understanding to practical action.

The Dalai Lama said, “Compassion is not religious business, it is human business, it is not luxury, it is essential for our own peace and mental stability. It is essential for human survival.” What would your best, wise self say about how to knit together vulnerability and emotional peace for yourself and others?

Perhaps they’d tell you that endlessly shutting down your feelings is an unsustainable plan. That it takes courage to allow others to show their true self in your presence. And that they admire how you always come from the heart.

Do you want to make compassion your business? Stay vulnerable.