All of my life, I remember searching for that “thriving” feeling. I felt a thirst for life. I wanted to see the world, taste the flavors of experience, and live boldly.
So, I worked. I put myself through College in 3 years and completed a Ph.D. in 4 years.
By the time I was 23 years old, I was consulting for Fortune 1000 companies on their strategy.
At 24, I completely re-organized the sales force of one of the largest companies in the world resulting in a 400% increase in Sales.
I led my own Organizational Development function by the time I was 30. I was a VP of HR by 35.
I “made it.” I had “things” – a big house, a designer car, and all the trappings of success.
Late at night, though, I was still reading and studying (with an almost feverish ferocity) the teachings of the Shambala, the Tao, and the Bhagavad Gita. In spite of my material comforts and my high-powered leadership position, I still felt a search for the bigger meaning, for wholeness, and an end to that feeling of being empty. I still deeply wanted to know and understand why we are here, what really made us happy, and how the Sacred teachings connected to our modern Science.
Seek and you will find.
As a VP of HR, I worked through perhaps the most difficult period in my company's history. I was asked to plan 2-3 restructurings every year, resulting in over 7000 job losses. Talk about karma… Going into work each day to plan restructuring initiatives and the complete cataclysm of my fellow humans’ lives and then coming home to my large house and fine furnishings, left me feeling the weight of hypocrisy.
There had to be a way to change the system. We want to be happy. We want to thrive. We want our lives to have purpose. And, the culture of most companies I had worked with treated employees as costs to be cut and happiness as the by-product of making money and not something to create while at work. Humans weren't meant to spend existence in a box or as a cog. Somehow corporate culture had to support the human spirit and still do its work. Otherwise, lives would be devastated by the churn and burn of profit and loss.
I was a farm kid, after all, and those getting “packages” were mothers and fathers trying to support their families. Also, I knew from my scientific understanding that what happens to others deeply impacts all of us; wellbeing is not solely an individual experience, but one that has universal implications (see Harvard’s research on Interpersonal Neurobiology).
In 2011, as I was presenting a package to an employee, the employee started laughing. I thought this was a strange reaction, and checked in. The associate told me that he was laughing at the irony of life. See, he had just learned that he was terminally ill and had an estimated 4 months to live. Obviously, this conversation stopped the HR script immediately. We proceeded to have the most real human dialogue I have ever had with another human. Toward the end of the conversation, he asked me about my feelings about corporate America, life, and what I really “wanted” to actualize. I told him that I spent most of my nights staying up late reading about Eastern philosophy, had an informal Ph.D. in religious studies, and longed to teach people the secrets of living an abundant life, which were perfectly laid out in the esoteric doctrines and in the yoga sciences.
Saying this out loud was transformative. I knew, in this moment, that I needed to change my life to live my truth.
We have to be the change we want to see in the world. And, that’s why I started the Moksha Institute. I want to help create change.
For many, corporate life is making them sick. 90% of what we see the doctor for is stress related. And, in all my experience in Corporate America, I met very few who were not stressed out. This takes a toll – on all of us. The demands of managing the day-to-day grind and balancing family life is not easy; and for many, with job cuts and the pace of innovation, work has gotten even more demanding. At the most basic level of human striving, we want to have meaning and purpose in our lives and we want to connect to the company we serve.
Progressive learning in the corporate world is often limited because of hierarchical systems and old fashioned norms suggesting how an organization or leader “should” behave or how the structure should exist. There is a paradigm shift happening. If you close your eyes, you can feel it.
People want meaning in their life. They want to contribute to their company and have their voice heard – to participate and be recognized. The most progressive companies in the world are now discovering the new form of innovation – waking up their organization, creating mindfulness at work, leveraging the innate goodness in their associates, and empowering others to realize themselves. This work is leading not only to dramatic decreases in healthcare costs – saving companies millions every year – but also amazing shifts in attitude, morale, engagement, and performance.
We need to stop selling our leaders on the “7 Secrets of Leadership,” and start teaching our leaders to be whole persons – real, flawed, honest – and most of all caring. We are sold something every day – on Facebook, TV commercials, in Political campaigns, and from our leaders. But, we hunger most for authenticity – in ourselves and in others. That’s why it’s often so refreshing when a public figure is … simply honest.
This is why I started the Moksha Institute. I want to empower organizations and their people. I want to bring purpose and meaning into the lives of those organizations who hire us. I want to create bleeding edge innovation in companies so that they never have to cut their employees to cope with the changing times. I want to create authenticity and accountability at work. I want to increase communication so that people are connected. And, if those companies are restructuring or merging, I want to help them create a culture that is inspiring, inventive, participative, and communicative. And, I believe strongly that the future will be built on those companies who see the potential of people.
We are in the information age. In 1975, the S&P index reported that 17% of the market cap was “intellectual property,” and in 2005, it grew to 80%. In 30 years, the value of intellectual property grew by 60%! The value of corporate assets today is PEOPLE. And the measure organizational success will be the degree to which a company has captured their hearts – not their heads, and not even their wallets (if you want more information on that, look at the research on what is motivating millenials).
We are in the shift age. Yoga studios are popping up on every corner. People are starting to ask the big questions again. The paradigm shift is here… and it’s not whether or not you are ready… it’s whether you can afford not to compete with those that embracing it – those that are realizing Moksha.
Dr. Ryan Pride is the owner of the Moksha Institute, a firm dedicated to improving the wellbeing of individuals, teams, and organizations through culture transformation and leadership development. A profit-for-purpose company, the Moksha Institute applies Ancient Teachings for the Modern Time in order to transform striving into thriving.