My novel ‘The Buddhist CEO’ what’s it all about?
I have announced the coming of my book but what is it all about? Why did I write it? Let me try and answer these questions. In my personal life I actually worked as a CEO and I am a practicing Buddhist, which I hope makes me well placed to write on these subjects.
Being a CEO was a great honor. To be entrusted with running a company and be solely responsible for everything that is successful but also everything that goes wrong. Few people will experience the raw exhilaration that comes with being a CEO, and I count myself lucky to have experienced this. I was an award-winning CEO for seven years before my time was cut short by health issues. That’s for another blog!
I experienced great highs during my seven years in the CEO chair. My organisation
was listed in the prestigious Sunday Times Top 100 Companies to work for in the UK, in six of my seven years in charge. The thrill I got from making things work, winning new
contracts, helping create a great workplace culture, collecting awards and making the organisation financially successful was so rewarding to me. When things went well, I felt like I was walking on air, on top of the world.
But there were many low points as well. Services didn’t perform, some years were financially difficult, and I had to hold my nerve, at times dealing with staffing issues could ware me down. In these moments I wondered how do other CEOs cope with this. I took courses to help me be a better CEO and attended seminars. They all helped but I wanted more knowledge and courses never really taught me what I needed to know. Overtime I got to know other leaders and where I learned the most was speaking to them privately about how they dealt with the tricky issues they faced. The answers I got couldn’t be taught in a course. This type of knowledge was hard won and came from direct experience.
I learned that many of the other CEOs and senior leaders I met were actually just like me. They wanted to do well and were ambitious for themselves and their organisations but like me they could be frustrated about the daily hassles they encountered. At times, just like me, they felt fear, they felt confused by others behaviour, they felt the extreme pressure, on occasions they doubted themselves and were not sure what to do. But on the surface, you might never have known what their emotional and spiritual reaction was to their CEO journey. This fascinated me, and I could see this was a story untold.
This got me thinking. There are so many books out there about leadership but has anyone written about how a CEO actually feels and thinks? What are their inner thoughts when they deal with difficulty as well as success.
My novel explores these themes through the eyes of my main character Hamish and reveals his inner thoughts as he navigates his CEO journey. Does he stay true to his values and beliefs? Do his beliefs help or hinder him on his leadership journey? I open the door of the inner workings of a CEO and let the reader feel the internal struggles that are often unseen by the public but are very real.
The book is no sugar-coated story of how to be a great CEO. It is always compassionate and thought provoking, but it presents the CEO role in its raw form, warts and all. What does a CEO think about when he sits in meditation after a hard day at the office? How does a CEO feel when people plot against him? How does he feel when dealing with difficult situations? What inner turmoil goes through his mind as he tries to balance his Buddhist views with the demands of modern leadership. Can these two worlds be fully reconciled?