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White Collar Zen

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White Collar Zen

Using Zen Principles To Overcome Obstacles And Achieve Your Career Goals

Oxford UP,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Have encounters, not confrontations. Use your intuitive awareness. Be wily like a Fox. Get promoted like a Buddha.

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Editorial Rating



  • Innovative
  • Applicable


Building on Buddhist parables and using sources as diverse as St. Augustine and Alice in Wonderland, author Steven Heine offers a little book with big ideas, such as applying the Zen values of detachment and resilience to workplace dynamics. He tells stories to illustrate intricate, thoughtful ways to assess and react to various business scenarios and disputes. Then, with a relatively low dose of philosophical double-speak and, perhaps, a few too many oblique Eastern-sounding aphorisms, he encourages you to take the high ground. recommends this illuminating guide to those of a philosophical or spiritual bent. Heine’s knowledgeable explanation of the practical application of Zen ideas in business will help you remain philosophical in the face of workplace triumphs, puzzles or setbacks. While it is hard to see the Buddha inside a bull-headed rival, it may help to try.


Zen in the Art of Business Leadership

Organizations encourage both cooperative teamwork and individual competition. The challenge is to preserve the benefits of both, transforming ego-driven conflicts into mutually beneficial pursuits, while retaining your spontaneous creativity and a sense of your larger objectives. Business leaders look to spiritual values for inspiration in framing these seemingly contradictory goals.

Zen principles include personal integrity, respect for others, impartiality and the ability to speak and act skillfully, but also to stay silent when appropriate. Zen practice cultivates an awareness of subtleties in interpersonal relationships. Zen exhorts you to concentrate on positive deeds, minimize your flaws and turn obstacles into opportunities. Zen techniques help managers maintain a desirable creative tension between discipline and irreverence, or "structure" and "anti-structure," within an organization.

Working inside an organization gives you the opportunity to spur great changes and to fulfill a vision of the future. Organizational structure, like discipline, can be freeing. It can also be rigid and can lead to inflexibility. Profound...

About the Author

Steven Heine is an expert on Zen Buddhism. He teaches religious studies and history at Miami’s Florida International University, where he is Director of Asian Studies. He holds workshops on adapting Zen values to business. He also wrote Buddhism in the Modern World and Opening a Mountain.

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