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A battery recharge at the Mindful Leadership Summit

Fairfax County/Northern Virginia criminal defense/DWI defense lawyer integrates mindfulness, compassion and being tough as nails into his work for the best possible court outcome. Since 1991.

Nov 08, 2015 A battery recharge at the Mindful Leadership Summit

My work on advancing myself as a powerfully calm person and powerful persuader first and foremost is about daily constant practice.

The right battery recharges can propel me all the more forward, including with this past long weekend’s Mindful Leadership Summit in Arlington, Virginia.

At first I delayed registering for this event. Aside from two or three featured speakers, my expectations were modest for the event. However, I recognized that it is a good idea for me to meet leaders who are implementing mindfulness at their organizations, and for us to encourage each other forward.

In a non-dualistic sense, we are all leaders because we are all connected and we all have our moments when we need to persuade, meaning leading towards our point of view and vision.  I am also a leader of my staff, many of my clients look to me to lead them on the path, and I constantly work to lead judges (leaders themselves), jurors, prosecutors and opposing witnesses to my side.

Good karma started immediately at the summit when I arrived as a walk-in at lunchtime this past Friday, after court nearby. I knew before the summit had begun that the program was selling out and ultimately had sold out to 750 attendees, but figured I would find my way in. Sure enough, a great member of the registration team connected me with an attendee whose co-attendee had to cancel, and within five minutes of arrival I was in.

Motivated by that good karma of possibilities all around us, I decided to shed my prejudice against most politicians by attending the talk by Louisville Mayor Gregg Fischer, whom I had never heard of. I was was blown away by mindfulness at work in his city and by Gregg’s ability to speak in a humanly positive way (and warmly humorous way, including a slide photo of the Dalai Lama reclining on Gregg’s side) without needing politician-speak. In the process, this is a way for me to work on my prejudices about the 3P’s: politicians, police and prosecutors.

Jeffrey Walker, previously with big financial corporations, gave a talk that helped motivate me on the continuing path of working on myself in tandem with positively motivating my staff and persuading in my profession of persuasion.

Michael Carroll was my best professional inspiration at the Summit, because he, like I, has walked and integrated the Buddhist, contemplative, big business world (I worked on Wall Street before law school) and leadership paths, and he inspires so well. Having been a student of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Michael therefore started his mindfulness practice decades ago, seeing that Chogyam Trungpa passed away in 1987. 

Before leaving last night, I told Michael Carroll that I had bought all his three books last Friday, making him the first author whose books I had bought all at once. I like how Michael is as persuasively down to earth as much on stage as when talking one on one, being very approachable to boot. He told a great story, recounted in his Mindful Leader  book, of the amazingly simple act of a tollbooth worker engaging people in the chokepoint of frustration waiting in a tollbooth line, and inspiring them through the simple act of handing them an M&M candy and wishing them a good day, to the point that truckdrivers would calculate which line he would be in on a particular day and steer towards that tollbooth.

My greatest personal inspiration at the Summit was Roshi Joan Halifax, of the Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe. Having read her inspiring story of overcoming temporary childhood blindness and helping people with the transition of dying, I wanted so much to meet her and to get a better understanding of her essence and being, but missed her when elsewhere when she spoke at the local 2014 Wisdom Conference and BuddhaFest. For this Summit, as well, it was not clear whether her Saturday morning presence would work with my scheduled, but it was her very presence at the conference that made me try to get into the sold-out event and literally to sprint to the hotel and its conference room when an attendee at an outside food truck line this past Friday told me of sighting Joan Halifax just a few moments before.

Then I met Joan Halifax later that afternoon, bowed in appreciation to her, and handed her an origami peace crane. Her presence and persona are infectuous for spreading compassion.The next morning, Saturday, I sat in on her 8:00 a.m. meditation session, and then during her keynote morning address, felt her message and commitment for compassion in just about every cell of my body, as her voice nearly trembled with her complete commitment for making compassion go viral. For me, compassion is powerful when I have compassion for myself and my opponents, on the path of not letting others set nor schedule any upset for me, and being at once compassionate and tough as nails

I marveled as I met person after person whose organizations had supported their attendance at this conference, including a professional at Lockheed Martin, a professional at the National Park Service, and employees with the Fairfax and Alexandria, Virginia governments. I met people who attended from overseas in order to bring mindfulness programs to their home countries of India, Ethiopia and Israel.

I reconnected three years later, with Gretchen Rohr, who had since become a magistrate judge at the District of Columbia Superior Court, and who continues to organize for mindfulness practice, currently including regular gatherings of those on the court payroll, but also with an eye to expanding into bringing interested prosecutors, criminal defense lawyers, alleged crime victims (and I forget if she included criminal defendants) together in the courthouse. I am in.

I was gripped by the story of Mo Edjali, co-founder/manager of the summit, who recounted that before he happened upon Jonathan Foust’s regular Arlington, Virginia, meditation sessions, Mo was a Gordon Gekko in the business world, with making money his only real value, before his business closed in the recession. Mo went as far in his pre-mindfulness days as to demand an employee within thirty seconds to explain why he should not be fired. Mo watched his clock ticking and fired the employee after thirty seconds.

Jeffrey Walker, Michael Carroll, Gregg Fischer and Mo Edjali all underlined through their experience how we lead and motivate best by being mindful and compassionate. Doing so might require more patience, time, and even investment of money, but deliver tremendously in positive returns, particularly in the medium and long run, as well as in the short run, with more people wanting to help the leader than working out of resentment or fear.

This summit has been another reminder that I have been on the right path to integrate high vibrations, mindfulness, compassion, and non-duality into my personal and professional lives, and to recognize each person for their potential as allies for doing good things in this world.

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