The Full Body Yes With LinkedIn’s Scott Shute
Not many of us get to do the things we’re passionate about. But when that moment comes, more often than not, it provides not only a sense of fulfillment to us but to those we impact as well. Scott Shute was able to do that. Marrying his passion with his corporate role, he has found a way to authentically live at the intersection of the workplace and ancient wisdom traditions. He is currently the Director of Mindfulness and Compassion at LinkedIn, where he has created a space to improve the employees’ emotional agility and overall well-being. In this episode, he joins Katherine Twells to share how it took him to change his work and world from the inside out to live a much more meaningful life. Putting his wisdom and those he learned from others in writing, he lets us into his new book, The Full Body Yes, where he shares the importance of living in alignment with your value system. Learn the ways of how to work with your passion by following Scott in this conversation.
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The Full Body Yes With LinkedIn’s Scott Shute
Changing Your Work And Your World From The Inside Out
I am so pleased to share a conversation with someone who is living his passion and truly making a difference. My guest is Scott Shute, Director of Mindfulness and Compassion at LinkedIn. Scott has found a way to authentically live at the intersection of the workplace and ancient wisdom traditions. That is not always easy to do but the truth is after everything we’ve been through, we’re all seeking ways to improve our emotional agility and overall well-being. As Head of Mindfulness and Compassion at LinkedIn, Scott creates a space to do just that. He’s been an active advocate for customers and employees in the technology space for many years.
He’s held roles ranging from sales and customer service leadership, culminating in his previous role as Vice President of LinkedIn’s Customer Operations Organization but it was Scott’s personal passion for cultivating inner awareness and compassion that led him to forge a new path within his organization. In his role, Scott blends his lifelong practice with his practical leadership and operations experience. His mission is to change work from the inside out by mainstreaming mindfulness and operationalizing compassion.If you’re going to be successful in life or business, be compassionate. Click To Tweet
He’s an alchemist of sorts. He finds ways to combine different worlds into one and transforming it into something even better. Scott is a featured faculty trainer in Sounds True Inner MBA Program and he released his new book The Full Body Yes where he shares the wisdom he has accumulated over a lifetime of rich experience. Without any further delay, please enjoy my conversation with a compassionate and visionary, Scott Shute.
Scott, thank you so much for taking the time to join me in the conversation. I appreciate it.
Thanks for having me. I appreciate you.
It’s wonderful. People know your background but there’s always way more to someone than a bio. It’s your origin story. It’s the things that happened in your life that made you Can you ground our readers on your origin? How did you grow up? What were some of the things that impacted you?
I grew up on a farm in Kansas. I’m the youngest of five. When I was a kid, it was a couple of thousands of acres and now it’s 4,000 or 5,000 acres, wheat, corn and soybeans farm. I grew up with space. It’s about an hour to the nearest movie theater or fast food. A lot of time as a kid, I was walking around in nature with my dog. It’s a peaceful place to grow up. I discovered meditation, contemplation when I was a teenager. I started to practice when I was about thirteen. That’s been a big part of my life ever since. I started teaching in college and became a member of the clergy in my spiritual path. It’s been a big part of what I do. In parallel to that, I’ve had this career as ultimately an executive in the customer-facing world. I lead customer operations, functions like customer service and related functions like that. I got into my role as Lead of Mindfulness and Compassion at LinkedIn.
It is the coolest job in the world. The long story short on that one is I started at LinkedIn as the VP of Global Customer Ops. This whole meditation thing I never talked about at work. I was covering that part of my life. It is a big part of my life but I never talked about it at work. A couple of years into LinkedIn I realized how open a place LinkedIn is. Our CEO at the time, Jeff Weiner was talking about his meditation practice and headspace. He was talking about compassion and leadership. It just created this umbrella where I felt safe to come out of the shadows. I had a conversation with my buddy who runs the wellness group. I was asking him if we ever did anything with meditation and he started telling me about a few things that we’ve done in the past. He sees this, looks in my eye and goes, “Do you do something?” I smiled like, “I could do something.” He and I got excited. I went back to my desk and I did nothing about it for three months because I was terrified. I had all this fear and ego stuff in my mind because honestly when I grew up in Kansas, the whole meditating thing was not a popular topic either at home with friends so I just learned to not talk about it.In life, there’s no real wrong decision. It depends on how you’re keeping score. Click To Tweet
It wasn’t back then at all, even though it was here. It was not something people talked about. Not at all.
No. My parents thought that I joined a cult. They wanted to have me de-program. It was serious and it created some conflict. I had that in my DNA, in my bones when I was thinking about doing this. I had all this fear like, “What are people going to think about me? What is this going to do for my brand? I’m a leader here. Can I even do this? Am I going to get in trouble?” I finally got over all that mess and led one session on a Thursday afternoon at 4:30 in the heavenly conference room. I thought that was quite auspicious. The first week, there was one guy there. It’s just me and him.
He probably was so uncomfortable. He’s like, “Where can I get out of this room?”
I never saw that guy again. He was as terrified as I was but the next week there were 3, 5 and then it turned into a regular thing. People knew I did it so I got invited to bigger things. The marketing team would have a big off-site and they’d have breakout groups like, “For these breakouts, can you lead when you do things?” The CFO would have a summit with 300 or 400 finance people. I’d kick it off with a meditation. Let that roll around in your brain for a second.
It became a regular thing. I raised my hand to be the executive sponsor of our Mindfulness Program. We didn’t have one. Some volunteers, some friends of mine and I together built one. I did that for 3 or 4 years as a volunteer. For me, the turning point was a few years ago. Our CEO Jeff gave the commencement address at Wharton, a very serious buttoned-down place. He talks about compassion. In a commencement address, you get your one big piece of advice. If you’re going to be successful in life or a business, be compassionate. I was thinking, “That’s impressive.” The next time he’s on TV, this is all the reporters want to talk about.
I was thinking, “I’ve been in my role for six years.” It’s the longest I’ve ever been in any singular role. I was itching to do something else. I figured out it’s time for me to invest my career in my real passion which is this stuff. It’s time for LinkedIn to get serious about it too because if we’re going to say that, “The most important thing you can do is be compassionate,” and we send 16,000 people back to their desk, what does that mean? We’re not doing anything specifically. I made a pitch to Jeff or the head of HR and with their tremendous support essentially created this role with a blank sheet of paper which is what I’m doing, the coolest job in the world.
You mentioned that you grew up with space. When my twins were fifteen, I can tell you that if I can get them to sit down for a moment, it’s a miracle. There had to be something in your DNA and maybe you’re not even sure why you were called to do that. It’s not like it was something in your family. I’m a meditator. My kids know that I do it but they have no interest in following suit. What was it about you at thirteen that did that?
I’ll preface this by saying everything I do at LinkedIn is approachable and secular but I did come at this from a spiritual perspective. This thing that happened when I was thirteen is like a spiritual awakening for me. It was my truth. I’m not one of those beliefs that there’s only one way. It was this deep connection I had with something bigger. That something bigger is what I would experience out in space. Not space like Mars but space of walking along a big field. This is before we had cellphones, we are connected and programmed with all this stuff. Life was still busy. I grew up in this place where it was still quiet enough to hear the wind blow through the grass and hear your thoughts. This combination of this peaceful environment plus my innate love for the divine, whatever that thing is, led me to this journey inward.
I sometimes not worry that strong but I feel sorry for my kids. I know you have kids that they’re so dominated by technology and their devices. Those moments in the field, hearing the wind, grass and the birds, if they’re far and few between in our kids’ lives in sports, school, technology and that’s how they live.
Let’s not put our kids in that bucket. It’s all of us, self-included. We’ve scheduled our lives with so much busy because there are many opportunities and we do it to ourselves. We have no one to blame but ourselves. We need to carve out some time to have space, to be with ourselves without all the stimulus because what we know is that stimulus does not make us happy over time. It’s a little bit of instant gratification but happiness is an inside job. That inside job starts with knowing who we are and being comfortable with who we are. For that, we do need a little space.Happiness is an inside job. Click To Tweet
Marrying Passion With Corporate
Let’s go back to that moment where you had to marry passion with your corporate role. You’ve talked very openly about the fact that there’s this tension between the essence of who we are, maybe at the soul level or who we are inside and then the identities that we create, the roles and the external environment. It takes a lot of vulnerability and courage to step in. You talked about that and to marry those two things. For people reading who are like, “I don’t think I can do that,” what would you tell them about the importance of living your truth even if it’s scary?
What I can say is my biggest mistake or regret was not doing it sooner. The biggest thing that was in my way was my fear. That’s been true in every step of my life. This has been a journey. It took me whatever more years than I’d like to count on working to get to the point where I finally felt comfortable. Part of that comes with age, part of it comes with the cycles of seeing my failure and realizing, “Life goes on even after a bad failure” It goes on. It just keeps going.” Once you see that it’s like, “If that’s the worst that can happen to me, this is not going to be that bad. Come on.”
As an example, I had a time in my career where my job was eliminated 3 times in 4 years. One of those times was that a time I wanted so badly. I was a Senior Director. I had been promised a VP role and it felt like the top of the mountain. “I was going to be there. I was going to do it before I was 35,” and then the rug got pulled under me and my job was eliminated. I didn’t get the promotion. It happened two more times. At that moment which was 3 or 4 years long, I would have told you that, “That’s horrible.” With the benefit of time, I realized that that was one of the most powerful and important things that happened to my career. I don’t think that life gives us more than we can handle but sometimes it gives us more than the current recipe of our life can handle. We’re forced to go make all these changes.
I was doing some of this. I was figuring this out. If I had been more aggressive about it and more uncompromising in moving towards my values instead of just chasing money or title it would have made my life a lot easier and happier and fulfilled. That’s what I would tell my 35, 23 and 18-year-old self. “Figure out what your values are and every decision you make, ask yourself, ‘Does this decision get me closer to those values or further away?’”
That’s such beautiful advice but isn’t it funny how our younger self is almost like we have to go through those phases because if we don’t go through the failure, hit the wall or go through that equation, we all go through the trap. “When I have this job, live in this place, have this relationship, lose 10 pounds, it’s all going to be so amazing,” and there is no there.
I wrote this book. As I was writing it, we all have that little imposter syndrome like, “Who am I to write a book?” Which I had to get over as everybody who’s any success has to get over. What I realized is that no one has anything new to say. I’ll give you an example. James Clear who I love wrote the book Atomic Habits. My favorite quote that I quote all the time in all my teachings, I’ll paraphrase, “Our lives do not rise to the level of our goals. They fall to the level of our systems,” which is incredibly wise. As I was researching, I found somebody else said that. It was Archilochus. He said it 2,500 years ago.
We’re slow learners. We have to hear something a thousand times in a thousand different ways.
What I’m guessing is Archilochus got it from his teacher who learned it from his teacher who learned it from her teacher, 5,000 or 20,000 years ago. In other words, we have all this wisdom among us. All of the older people are sharing that wisdom with the younger people like me when I was 13, 18 or 23 but we have to go through it to some degree. Our only hope is that we’ve listened to the elders along the way. When the thing happens to us when we do stub our toe, we at least have an inkling of what to do next because someone else has already said it.
The Full Body Yes
It’s one gigantic learning process no matter what and that’s what we’re always doing. I want to talk about your book and we’re going to talk a little bit about 2020 and this weird, crazy dimension we’ve all traveled through and are still traveling through. You took the time to tackle that and write this beautiful book called The Full Body Yes. Full of amazing stories of your life, experiences and how you got to this point and then you share the wisdom with others that you just talked about. Do me a favor and explain to the readers what is the book and maybe a story of how that materializes for you?
I can share a couple of things. I’ve been thinking about writing a book for a long time. I was in my hometown and got a chance to do a little book thing with my mom’s friends and my ninth-grade teacher was there. My English teacher got me into writing in the first place. She reminded me that I told her that I was going to write a book but first I was going to get an Engineering degree, get rich and then I was going to write a book. My friend Soren, who leads Wisdom 2.0 in December of 2019, we were coming home from an event. We both speaking and hosting an event. When we were in the car, he’s driving and gets this funny look on his face. He looks over at me and goes, “The universe has told me to tell you that it’s time to write your book.”
The universe hotline called Soren. I checked in. I’m like, “Does that feel right? I’ve been thinking about writing a book since I was fifteen in high school,” and it felt right. That’s an example of The Full Body Yes. The Full Body Yes is when you just know and there’s no part of you that disagrees with that. Every atom of your being, mind, intuition and gut is all aligned saying the same thing. Sometimes this happens in a moment of grace like this thing that comes over you and you just know. As an example of when I was interviewing for this job to come to LinkedIn a few years ago, on paper it made no sense. I loved the job I was in and the LinkedIn job sounded like more work for less money.
It’s is not typically the path you take.
No. On paper, I’m like, “Why would I do this?” I was compelled to keep interviewing. I was in round 4 of 11. I woke up one night, straight up, dead awake, there was no going back to sleep, 1:30 AM and I knew, “I’m supposed to take this job.” It turns out that’s right. It’s the best thing I could have done. That was an experience where it just came over me, I knew. There are also times when it’s a struggle. It can come over you when you’re getting your breakfast cereal or trying to decide what you’re going to eat for breakfast. “Should I have the cereal or the waffles?” You just know. That’s easy. It happens all the time. When it’s most poignant, that’s when it’s hard.
When you’re struggling with a decision or, “Should I leave this relationship with all the ties? Should I take that job? Should I make this hard decision?” Those things are painful. We’re so close to we don’t know. There are so many factors. I had this happen once at work. I was leading an operation team of 1,000 people. My lieutenant was leaving. It was all good. He was taking a great job but I needed to replace him. I knew that the success of this next person was largely going to be my success or failure depending on how they did. It was a public and integrated role.Comparison is the thief of joy. It is a losing strategy and a strategy for misery. Click To Tweet
We got everybody involved, all these other VPs, cross-functional partners in the interview chain so that they could be part of the change management. It came down to two candidates. We had scoured the Earth for people and there was no more thing we could do. We’d already put them through as many interviews and background checks. They were both fantastic. They could both do it but I had exactly half the team including these cross-functional partners say, “It’s the external candidate. I’m not sure the internal candidate can do the job.” Exactly half the team said, “For sure it’s the internal candidate. I don’t think the external candidate can do the job.”
It’s a dead tie.
My life strategy is being a pleaser, a collaborator, getting people to work together. While I can do conflict, I’ve done it. It’s not the place I like to go to. What am I going to do? I’m in contemplation one day and threw my hands up into the air, to the universe. The universe and I have a direct relationship too, I talked and I’m like, “I don’t know what to do. I want a sign. I want no-doubter. I don’t do this often. Usually, I try to figure it out on my own but this time, I want to sign.” In contemplation, I was like, “If it’s the external candidate, I’m going to see this long dark hair, wrapped up in a bun with chopsticks in the middle.” As soon as I said that I’m like, “She’s not even Asian. Let it go. If it’s the internal candidate, this person had an orange backpack. It’s going to be an orange rhinoceros.”
As soon as I said it the mind is like, “What are you doing? How is this going to happen?” I’m like, “For the next 24 hours, I’m watching. Let’s go.” The next 24 hours came and went. The day after that, I’m at the movies with my team. We took off early to go watch one of the Star Wars movies on a Friday afternoon. As I’m sitting there, letting the stress of the week melt away, eating my popcorn, whispering to my friends. There’s a preview for an animated movie. Across the screen goes in orange rhinoceros. Instantly, the mind gets involved. Instantly, the mind is, “Seriously? Isn’t it maroon? It might have been maroon-ish orange, does that count?” I checked inwardly like, “Does it feel right?” It felt 100% right. That’s what I mean by The Full Body Yes.
I guarantee you, there are people reading and we all have our different orientation, they are science-minded or cerebral or more intuitive and people come from very different places. You mentioned the mind gets involved. One of the challenges for us especially in business is we lock into the head. It’s all up here. It’s about our analytical abilities, strategy, what we think, what we know or our logic. Some of this requires embodying a feeling. If you’re used to living above the shoulder line, how do you get more embodied?
Here’s another example. This is simple. It’s about decision-making. If you’re reading this, pick two things, deciding between A and B. It could be something serious or just fun like what movie to see. Pick something serious, make it have stakes that may be more valuable too. Here’s how it works. You think about only option A and imagine you’ve already made the decision, “I’m choosing option A.” You start to fast forward your life. What happens? If you choose it, “Here are all the other things that are going to happen with option A.” Get us a real sense of how that feels and then take a deep breath in and then let it go. Watch that and let it go.
Now think of option B. Imagine you decided on option B. This is your life. This is what’s going to happen and fast forward all the things are going to happen with option B as your life and get a real sense of how that feels. Take a deep breath in, let it go and see how your body feels. I have never had this not work. You ask yourself, “How does this work?” The mind cannot explain this. Our science has not caught up. We’re slowly catching up to the gut-brain. They’re starting to figure this out but the mind has not figured this out. Science has not all the way figured this out but it always works. You know already so much more than your mind is willing to allow you to know. It’s learning how to trust that thing. It’s going with your gut, trusting it and not looking back. Like age, the more cycles we have of trusting and having a workout, the more comfort we’ll have in making the decision the next time.
Also knowing that if it doesn’t, going back to sometimes you maybe take a wrong turn but there’s something revealed to you in that wrong turn. It’s this trust factor. We’ve all heard the stat over our lifetimes that we only use 10% of our brain. We’re talking about our brain but what we are discovering in science is that we do have those neural pathways all through our body. To your point, we’re beginning to understand the intelligence of our entire system not just our brains and learning how to use them. If we all got in touch with it, we could be so much more powerful in how we’re managing our lives.
It takes a little trust. In life, there’s no real wrong decision. It depends on how you’re keeping score. If you’re keeping score in that, “I always have to win. It about the dollars in my pocket, ” you may or may not be happy with the score you’re keeping. If you’re keeping score on, “Am I a better person than I was yesterday? I am more loving and patient?” Every single one of these experiences that happened to us is rich territory for becoming a better person and for learning how to love and be loved.
There’s probably not a person that I’ve ever spoken to where you’re talking about your life and some crazy difficult thing happened. Maybe it was an illness, divorce or any number of things. If you ask that person, “You can undo that. Not have that happened to you, would you do it?” I’ve never met anyone who said they would because they always said there was something from that that was born and that they would not be who they are. If you’re that overthinker or perfectionist, “I have to get it right.” When you can breathe into, “What if there is no right?” There’s being integrity. I do think there’s a different conversation about being in your value system and in alignment. As far as navigating the road, there’s a lot of different ways you can go.
We often are climbing the wrong mountain. In my own experience, I spent my entire childhood trying to overachieve unconsciously probably so that I would get the attention of my parents. I carried that behavior into adulthood where it’s just achieved. It is a hole that can never be filled. There’s not enough achievement in the world that can fill that hole if you have that hole in your insides. Happiness is an inside job. Each one of these experiences, if we shift our lens a little bit and change how we’re keeping score, we’re going to be a lot happier.
That’s so important to tell all of us but even to our kids. I see kids coming into that ego identity, comparison and, “I’m not as talented in this game. I’m not as tall. I’m not as good-looking. I’m not as smart.” It’s so much comparison versus, “How can you compete with the self of your yesterday and not with everyone else because you have your special gifts to offer?”
Comparison is the thief of joy. It is a losing strategy and a strategy for misery. It’s like we can let more of the light in to deal with the dark. We’re not ignoring the hard things in our life. We’re not sugarcoating them. We’re just changing the focus to be on the positive or optimistic things. That allows us to strengthen ourselves to be able to deal with the things that are hard.
Living Through Unprecedented Stress
Let’s talk about the things that are hard because we have all been living through unprecedented stress. Some people would argue, “Talk to our ancestors who lived back in the 1800s. They would say, ‘You guys have it’s so easy. You’re getting your first big dollop of challenge. This collective adversity called this pandemic and isolation.’” It’s affected people’s mental health. I feel these practices are ancient and always been important but I feel more so than ever, how do you feel about that based on mental health stats that you read about?
In many ways, the COVID, lockdown and quarantine have been a gift. This is not to discount all the pain and suffering people have gone through. When in life have we collectively paused and gotten an opportunity to reassess what’s important to us? These things tend to happen during a tragedy or hard times. They happen to happen all at the same time for all of us. What I see is people going inwardly. When I ask people a conversation starter, “What are they grateful for?” It’s almost always, “My health and my connections.” They talk about their loved ones whoever that is in their life.
We realized that beyond the stuff, in 2020, we were feeling our lives of stuff just as full as it could possibly be. We’d say, “What’s important to us?” Out of reaction, we’d list all the stuff in our lives. When faced with all this collective challenge, “What’s important to us?” What’s important to us is being healthy and it’s the people we love. Everything else is gravy. If we get to do stuff, that’s gravy. What I see is people going inwardly and these practices of mindfulness, contemplation or going within and, “Working on myself.” This is what we’ve always needed but we filled our lives so full that we didn’t have time for it. I believe that life never gives us more than we can handle but it gives us more than we can handle with that recipe. We’re having to change our recipe and go within and go, “I don’t know what to do.” Then we try something new. In that way, it’s a gift. In the scorekeeping of learning how to be a better person, how to love more and be loved more, what a gift.The culture that companies create impacts the way people think. Click To Tweet
I agree that people are going more inward. I agree we have to change our recipe but as we have read about the state of people’s health. If you look through the pandemic, the churches are closed but you can get alcohol delivered to your door. You can shop at Amazon 24/7. You still would see this numbing out like whatever we can do to make it feel better. We’re in a very interesting time where the pandemic has not gone yet things are opening up again. I see more traffic on the road. I see people starting to do things again, yet there’s this almost like PTSD where people, “I guess I should start to go back to who I was but I don’t know how to go back because things have changed?”
It’s an interesting transitional time. What if we could hold on to both of all the good things? We get the freedom to move about and do the things we want, to choose things, experiences and connections we haven’t had been able to. What if we could retain some of this space that we’ve given ourselves. I get that not everybody has had space in whatever your situation is. If you’re a single mother with three kids under six, homeschooling and working at the same time, no space but at least all of us have recognized and woken up to how important the inner work is.
Sometimes we’ve been pushed all the way to the max. The statistics on mental health are scary. One of the scariest for me was from a national health study. 1 in 9 or 11% of people have had serious thoughts of suicide. Suicide rates haven’t jumped like we thought they would but that is a huge number. The fact that anybody or 1 in 9 is thinking about it means all kinds of challenges for workplaces and people getting by. What if we could keep all the good stuff? Some of the good stuff is that companies are talking about mental health in a way that they’ve never had to and now they have to.
This is not a thing that’s going away, it’s always been there but in crisis, it gets more attention. If we can keep the focus on mental well-being, going inwardly and developing our strength and self-compassion. If we can keep this focus on the most important things in our life, our own health and relationships versus all the materialism, achievement and all the stuff that we often take as truth. If we can blend the two then we’ll be in a good spot but no one knows. We’ll see what will happen next.
As we talk about compassion, the threads of compassion and you think about the social justice narrative and the divide whether it’s political or racial, this idea of compassion and action of doing that inner work because the inner work is about raising your consciousness, awareness and acting differently in the world. The stakes are high for all of it.
I do believe that this inner work and the work of compassion is a salve that heals all those wounds. Maybe not the only thing but it’s the tide that raises all boats. In other words, if we take care of ourselves, if we raise ourselves then we’re going to make better decisions. If we do that collectively then there’s going to be less injustice, crime, hatred, all of the bad in the world. For me, this is the place I’ve chosen to be an activist. Not in any specific social, political or educational cause but to be an activist for compassion. That’s where I want to spend my time.
You talk a lot about me to we and the idea that it starts with us in our inner work as we’ve been discussing but we are not disconnected from this greater collective. The origin of the CMO Summit was all about community and the fact that we’ve got to come together to share and understand so that we can rise together. Talk a little bit about the me to we narrative.
There are a few things going on in there. One is this idea of climbing the wrong mountain. When we were focused on me, I’ll speak for myself. When I was trying to climb the mountain of achievement, you get to the top of the mountain and there’s nothing there that doesn’t involve someone else. You can have all the money and status in the world but if you’re by yourself without your health or connections, what good is any of it? The weak part is, “We don’t work and live in isolation. How do we make it about others?”
What I have realized for myself is that there’s so much more joy in helping others achieve, in sharing and rising everybody up versus just myself. Service feels better. This is intuitive to when I was fifteen but this is where we get to. If you look at it, it’s the truth in people’s lives, when people as they get older, “What do they want to do?” They just want to serve. Almost everybody figures this out except we don’t figure it out when we are eighteen. We figure it out when we’re old.
There’s another part too that it’s a little not self-serving but this is where we get our real joy. When we figure out how to still achieve but in a different way, how to develop ourselves to how to shine our light most uniquely. This is what people ask me. They’re like, “Is there something wrong about achievement?” I say, “No. If you want to be the best investment banker, marketer, HR person, mother, mountain biker, woodworker or whatever, great. Do that. Be the best whatever you can be because we are naturally creative.” That’s the me part. Along the way, as you’re doing that, do it in service of like, “What’s the point of me being the best musician or speaker in the world unless I’m serving?” I’ve done both. I’ve fulfilled my own personal destiny but I’ve also done it in a way that serves and what’s wild about that is that the serving part is what feels the best. That’s the top of the mountain.
Ikigai is this combination of gifts that you have. You can share it much better.
It’s a Japanese concept about meaning. It’s finding the intersection of four circles. The four circles are, what I’m good at, what the world needs, what someone will pay me for and what I enjoy. People are normally focused on what I enjoy and what I’m good at. It’s a little harder than to find what the world needs. That keeps us honest in terms of doing good stuff. The challenging one in making a living is what somebody will pay me for. If we can move our careers and our lives closer and closer to the center of that bullseye, that’s where the juice is.
Mindfulness In The Business World
That is the supreme sweet spot. We always talk about the sweet spot. It’s all there for you. That peace and satisfaction. When we first met we were talking a little bit about our life journeys and how we both chose to stay in the business sector even though we had strong spiritual drives as far as understanding mindfulness and all the things that we’re talking about. We talked about how much it’s needed. Even though the people reading this will be business leaders and individuals from everywhere but I know we agree that it’s important in business and you have a collaboration with Sounds True for a program called The Inner MBA and it is a nine-month immersion and is geared towards business leaders and trainees in business. Share a little bit about why you think this narrative and conversation is valuable in the business world.
On a macro level, businesses, organizations, big ones like Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Google, Facebook or Enron shaped people’s consciousness in a way that governments and churches have been doing for thousands of years. Governments and churches, in many cases, have lost the high ground. The culture that companies create impacts the way people think. If you come to a company like LinkedIn, the culture is one of the biggest things that we are interviewing for. You better fit the culture, you’re just not going to work and it’s not a thread. This is how it works. It’s shorthand for how we all work together.
We all want a place where these organizations are teaching the right things. If we’re teaching compassion, doing the right thing and service, that has a powerful impact on the world in the way that in the old days, you used to have to go to join a monastery, be a preacher or a politician. The thing is it’s not just a feel-good thing. There’s lots of science that back up that acting in a compassionate way is good for business.
My definition for compassion is having an awareness of others, a mindset of wishing the best for them and the courage to take action. Think about that from the C-Suite towards your customers or whoever it is you serve. Having an awareness of those. You’re a marketer. You want to know exactly, “What problem is my customer trying to solve?” The second piece is having a mindset of kindness. Are you wishing the best for them? If I take this mindset that, “I’m doing everything I can to solve my customers’ problems, I want them to be successful,” that’s great. “I’m going to come up with much more creative solutions.”
The third one is the courage to take action. Here’s where sometimes we have challenges. Sometimes we’re thinking about that trade-off or in the short-term, “This is not going to be great for me but I need to do it to keep my customer.” Think about all the challenges we’ve had in the quarantine time. Maybe you had to re-adjust your terms so that your customer can make their payments. That was not great for you but long term that customers are going to stay with you.
It turns out that these companies balance all of their stakeholders, not just their shareholders meaning they’re actively doing what I just said, taking care of their customers. They’re actively creating an awesome place for their employees to do their best work. They have a smart business model. These companies are more successful. They are fourteen times. That’s 1,400% more profitable. It’s like, “Why aren’t we all doing this? Why isn’t this the first thing that we’re taught in business school?”
It’s like a win in Multiplication and it is a long game. This is not a short game we’re in. We’re always planting seeds and cultivating for the future. These are the practices that guide us into alignment and integrity. When you have an integrity model then everything works better.
All the things that we know about individual behavior are the same things as organizational or corporate behavior. It’s like you know that eating a salad, broccoli or healthy carbs and meats are better than eating a bag of potato chips. Everybody knows it but it’s hard to do. Over the long term, you will be a healthy person. The same way as meditating for twenty minutes every day. You know that it’s a better thing to do or it’s hard to do. Same thing with organizations, you know that in the short-term as a salesperson, if you’re trying to hit quota, “If I can just slide in this one deal and sell my customers something they don’t need, that’s good for me but over the long term, it’s not good for us.” It’s not good for the company. As a company, we have to reward long-term behavior and the behavior that deals with the we and not just the short-term gratification.
We are an ecosystem. Everything we do has an impact on other people. It’s important to say to everyone reading that it’s a practice. If you have the night where the potato chip bag is empty and you’re like, “Tomorrow we’re going to balance this out.” We were talking about the challenges, schedule and all the choices you have to make with your book. We could be in this narrative life-long and you’re always having to return to trying again and having compassion for self. There’s all this compassion for others but you have to have compassion for yourself.
We can’t compare ourselves to others. That’s a losing strategy. Even if we fail so what? We have the next moment to choose our next move. It starts with self-compassion.
We’re going to move into a little bit of practice around self-compassion. Before we do that, first of all, I want to thank you for taking the time and not only sharing your wisdom but you’ve been a wonderful coach as we’ve been looking to include more Mindfulness and Compassion within our company, add more programming and resources. Thank you for everything that you give. I would encourage everyone to read your book because there’s a lot of wisdom in The Full Body Yes. Any other biggest a-ha moments or biggest pieces of wisdom you’d like to share before we move into practice?
Think about how you keep score in your own life because this re-orient our entire life? For a bit, reflect on how you keep score and is it in line with your deepest held values? Sometimes I know for me it wasn’t for a long time. I had to re-adjust that.
A Practice With Scott
Decide what matters, remind yourself of it every day and take action in alignment with those things that matter the most. We’re going to close with some practice. I wanted to thank you for being willing to do this. Scott’s doing this to not have you close your eyes but please be careful as these practices are meant to lead you into a calm space. Wherever you are, if you’re able to be comfortable and relax, I’m going to give you a little bit of a treat and let Scott lead you in practice.Compassion is about having awareness for others, a mindset of wishing the best for them and the courage to take action. Click To Tweet
Thanks for that. Just settled in. Maybe take a deep breath in. Let it go. Feel the weight of the day or any remaining stress in your shoulders slip away. Allow yourself to be fully present in this moment. Allowing your thoughts and entire being to settle. We’re talking about self-compassion. Let’s try that. If you’re comfortable, you can put your hand on your heart. First, feel the gentle rise and fall of your hand on your heart with your breath.
If we were to give someone a hug, our bodies release oxytocin. It’s naturally soothing. This hand on our heart, our hand on our chest is soothing. Maybe even remember a time when you were a child, when you were soothed by grandmother, mother, auntie and get a sense of what that feels like. With your hand on your heart, you can say to yourself the following, “I am strong. May I be the strength that I need? I’m patient. May I have patience with myself and I am love. May I give myself love unconditionally. May I give others love unconditionally.”
You might visualize a golden light. Starts where your heart is and expands outward, strengthening with each breath. This is the real you, the one that is strong and patient, compassionate and loving beyond the noise of the emotions of the mind. With your hand on your heart, you can say your name followed by I love you. I would say, “Scott, I love you.” You try it. Yes for some of us this feels very strange. Try it anyway. Let go of any judgment, shame or embarrassment. Don’t make it a joke. Try it again. Say it fully, unconditionally and continue saying it. Continue saying it. Let it resonate deeply within your heart. Allowing a big smile to come across your face, taking a deep breath in all the way and then letting it go. Returning your attention back here. You can move your fingers and toes. Maybe stretch your shoulders if you like and come back with Kathy and me.
Thank you for doing that. Thank you for everything.
This is a practice we can use every day, every morning, as you’re brushing your teeth, doing your hair, make-up or shaving. Look at yourself in the mirror, in the eyes and say your name and, “I love you.” It’s one of the things I learned from my friend Sean Shapiro who learned it from her teacher who probably learned it from 25,000 years ago but still it’s hard.
Everything comes back to practice. I know I speak for both of us, as we wish everyone reading, the type of compassion and care towards self and others so that as we move forward into this unknown future that we can co-create something beautiful by rising our consciousness level to be better together. Thank you for your contribution to that effort both with LinkedIn and all the ripples that you make out in the business world and with all the people that you’ve touched.
About Scott Shute
Scott Shute has been an active advocate for customers and employees in the technology space for over 20 years and has held roles ranging from sales and customer service leadership culminating in his previous role as Vice President of Linkedin’s customer operations organization.
But it was Scott’s personal passion for cultivating inner awareness and compassion that led him to forge a new path within his organization.
In his current role, Scott blends his lifelong practice with his practical leadership and operations experience. His mission?…to change work from the inside out by “mainstreaming mindfulness” and “operationalizing compassion”. He is an alchemist of sorts finding ways to combine different worlds into one transforming it into something even better.
Scott is a featured faculty trainer in the Sounds True Inner MBA program And he just released his new book titled The Full Body Yes where he shares the wisdom he has accumulated over a lifetime of rich experience.
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