Ten takeaways from attending the “Wisdom in Business” conference in Amsterdam

We are constantly occupied with accomplishing our goal of the day, the week or the year. And once it is accomplished we move on to the next one which has already been lined up. And then the next one. Celebrating the accomplishment, reflecting on the lessons learnt and taking time off to rest, recharge and consciously decide on the next steps often seem like a sort of a luxury which we don`t have time to indulge in. 

A few weeks ago I found myself getting stuck in this pattern and decided to take time to learn, recharge and get inspired by attending two conferences in Amsterdam – ‘Wisdom in the Business’ and ‘Inner Peace’, centered around themes that are close to my heart such as self-reflection, compassion and mindful living.

I find such topics to be of high relevance in both our professional and private lives, where a lot of focus is put on doing rather than being, searching outside rather than inside and taking rather than giving.

I greatly enjoyed the conferences, both of which offered new insights and plenty of food for thought. As usual, I took plenty of notes (for those who know me, you know well I have a thing for taking notes 😉 ) and below is my synthesis in the form of ten learnings from “Wisdom in the Business” conference; these are not  quotes, but my personal takeaways from the different speeches; I`ve also added the names of the speakers in case you would like to find out more about them.

  1. Applying wisdom in the business is about putting priority on the people in the organization and creating a caring culture which will eventually have positive impact on business performance (Richika Sookrey, Google).
  2. Contributing to the formation of a caring corporate environment starts with you practicing self-care and also having the courage to open up and share your story and vulnerability with others. Very often this has a domino effect where people gradually become more connected and caring for each other. This applies to all levels – from individual contributors to senior leaders (Kamel Hothi & Gian Power, TLC Lions).
  3. A big challenge that we have in our western culture is not acknowledging death as a natural part of our lives and living as if it doesn’t exist; by keeping running with time instead of taking time to established what really matters to us. A useful exercise that would help us get more in touch with our inner world and our true (but sometimes hidden) drivers is to contemplate the hypothetical situation of us dying in 3 months, and to ask ourselves – Who do you want to see? Where do I want to be? What do I want to do? (Stephan Rechtschaffen, Author of the book Timeshifting).
  4. Every time you give yourself time to explore the unknown, you unravel a new a side of yourself. (Stephan Rechtschaffen)
  5. In order to be happy we need to exercise our minds just like we train our muscles. But in order to achieve this, we need to be persistent with our mindfulness & meditation practice (and practice at least two times a day), which very few of us do consistently. In order for meditation to really work for us we need to turn every aspect of our life into meditation practice. (Mo Gawdat, former Chief Business Officer for Google X, an entrepreneur, and the author of the book Solve for Happy)
  6. Often we live under the assumption that we are fully in control, but this is rarely the case – we are only in control of our free will, but we are always operating in a bigger context that is beyond our zone of control. (Mo Gawdat)
  7. You don’t do something because it is either not important to you or you are doing too many things at the same time. Focus your attention on the thing that matters most. If you trully want to spend time with your family, make it a point not to touch your phone when you are with them. (Mo Gawdat)
  8. We experience time as “flying”, when we are not really present and are instead living in our heads, occupied with thoughts related to the past or the future. We truly live and remember every moment when we are in the real world and not in our heads (Mo Gawdat).
  9. By 2049 machines will be 1 billion times smarter than us. This is the difference between us and flies. The key question is, what will the machine do to the fly? In order for the machines to develop to be compassionate they need to be taught values which we also need to display in our daily lives. We need to be able to communicate to them that our culture as a society is to be compassionate and caring. (Mo Gawdat).
  10.  The Parable of the Sadhu contains important learnings for individuals and corporations: 1) Be compassionate towards each other and do not forget one’s humanity 2) Stop creating narratives around not taking action and helping others in your pursuit of seemingly important but essentially meaningless goals. (James R. Doty, Clinical Professor of neurosurgery at Stanford University and founder and director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education).

For those of you who also attended the  conference – I`ll be curious to find out whether my learnings resonated with you and hear more about your reflections.




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