April 15, 2005
Vol. 2, No. 15

Published Weekly on Fridays
By Leadership University
A Note from the Founder – Mike R. Jay, Master
Business Coach

Leadership is full of Cul de Sacs?

Another leadership tool will soon be entering into
the cacophony of leadership development called
"big mind."

From http://www.bigmind.org

"Dennis Genpo Merzel Roshi developed the Big Mind
process in 1999, drawing from thirty years of Zen
teaching experience and Western therapeutic
practices. This revolutionary technique unlocks
the wisdom of Zen teaching with directness and
clarity. Each participant will realize that this
very mind is Buddha.

The Big Mind process will give you the tools on
how to surrender the personal Ego to Big Mind. It
offers perspective on how we ordinarily function
and restrict ourselves. You will discover the True
Master within and learn how to effortlessly tap
into innate wisdom and compassion.

It is a very simple process that allows one to
experience what Zen is very easily and swiftly.
The ego, which normally guards and protects the
self from experiencing life directly, without
barriers, is dropped. Participants learn to sit
with non-seeking, non-thinking mind, rather than
grasping after the truth."

In principle, this sounds very appealing. In some
cases it will be.

I wanted to say something about it because I’ve
started to feel some resistance with "big"
anything, or the movement towards something,
either all encompassing or universal.

Eric Baum wrote an interesting book called "What
Is Thought?" http://www.whatisthought.com

In the book, he essentially claims each person is
a computation resulting from a program of learning
called DNA, which has been developed by evolution
over billions of years. One of the points he makes
that I want to use here is the idea that as a
computation, we have certain limits, or what the
author calls inductive bias, as a result of the
need to bound reality.

"As I’ve discussed, it is impossible to learn
anything without an adequate inductive bias." P. 368

"All you are learning is a label for that
particular piece of code." P. 368 [I'm using this
quote to refer to any "new idea" including "big

"I suggest that people already mostly know the
concepts before learning the words and that we all
pretty much share the same inductive bias. That
is, because we share a similar DNA program, and
have a similar understanding of the world, our
notions of what is salient are pretty well built
in and the same from person to person." P. 368-9

Now, my contention here is not necessarily to
evaluate either Baum’s work or the Roshi’s but to
point to a leadership idea:

What if a leader is just who they are? What if
leadership begins there?

Currently, if you look at the Roshi’s ideas, there
is something out there [big mind]. In my own life,
I’m not sure that’s true or untrue, I’m ok either
way with the arguments, because they limit in
either direction…and that’s the cul de sac — not
right or wrong, just there.

Some intuition I have about the movement up a
ladder (even if it’s against the right wall),
expanding consciousness, or even sitting with a
non-seeking, non-thinking mind, identifies
movement (even non-movement is movement) into a
cul de sac.

Now, you may say, you have to believe something
and perhaps that might be true, I’m not really
sure at this point. Yet, I do believe that one can
accept that movement is by nature and nurture a
response to conditions in large part existing
beyond anyone’s control. Now, I won’t say this
isn’t in alignment with some of the Zen thinking —
although I’m not a student, it just seems in

Since, it may be cathartic to sit in big mind, or
for that matter to stand on one’s head, I applaud
all of the movements to provide support and
“constellation” to our human experience, yet at
the fundamental root of it all is “what really

A number of years ago, the book of the same title
by Tony Schwartz provided me (and I’m sure is
providing others) with some interesting insights.
I wish I had the book to review, as I made a lot
of notes, but like the well-meaning Samaritan, I
loaned it out and it resides somewhere in some
flea market with my notes on my thinking, or
non-thinking as some might call it. The gist of
the story is that Schwartz went a lot of places
“giving in-depth profiles of roughly twenty-five
American consciousness luminaries” looking for
what really matters. In the end, I believe his
conclusion was that it was a personal thing to be
discovered or realized by each and every person
through practice.

A quote from the end of the book:

"The flowering of more comprehensive approaches to
wisdom, uniting the best of the East and the West,
represent a historic first. Never before have we
had access to so many technologies of
transformation or to so much knowledge about the
full spectrum of human possibility. It's not just
that there is wisdom to be found in America, but
that these comprehensive approaches are emerging
primarily in America. Perhaps never before have
they been so desperately needed." – Tony Schwartz

What in the world does this have to do with

Essentially, a couple of ideas:

   1. An approach is more than likely a
representation of your own inductive bias; accept
that, be open to others.

   2. Using “an approach” is likely to be a cul de
sac, or representation of a narrow band of
reality, no matter how encompassing it sounds.

A cul de sac is not an issue if you know it’s
there. Be wise.

From the desk of Mike R. Jay, Master Business Coach
Founder, http://www.leadershipuniversity.com

P.S.  Please visit my blog at http://www.leadwise.com 
to comment on this and other articles about leadership.

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