Leadership Lessons from the Back of a Balinese Motor Scooter

Susan S Freeman Blog

Leadership LessonThe theme for this month takes inspiration from my recent trip to Bali. While there last month, I observed many things that apply to principles of leadership and believe they are worth sharing.

On a visit to the Besakih, “The Mother of All Temples,” there was so much to take in.  The sight of many families and villages dressed in their temple attire, the smell of wafting incense, the colorful temple offerings.  This was set against a backdrop that was enormous; the sheer magnitude of the temple complex, with multiple sites, and the expansive views over the valley.  It was an overload for the senses; I was soaking it all in with reverence and curiosity.

Leadership LessonBecause the journey to the top was several miles from the parking lot (in the equatorial heat and sun), we cheated and hired motor scooter drivers to whisk us quickly to the top, saving our energy for the ceremony instead of the climb!

On the way down, my driver asked me where I was from, and I replied “United States.”   Then I asked him where he was from and he responded “Bali.”  I told him how lucky he was to be from Bali.  He answered me with a confident, joyful voice.  “I know.  I have everything I could ask for here.  A beautiful country, my family and friends, and my spiritual life, what else is there?”

I was struck.  There it was: A leadership lesson from the back of the motor scooter.

How we are being relates to what we experience in our work and in our lives.

His simple, yet profound outlook made me stop and realize how we often complicate things unnecessarily.

Leadership LessonYou see, in Bali, people do not define themselves by the job they do.  Many of them have two jobs; the job that they use to earn a living and the craft they grew up doing. For example, a man who drives taxis is also a wood carver from a family and village of wood carvers.  The idea that we are what we do is a very foreign concept to a Balinese.  Their rich, inner life allows for a wider definition, and is the foundation upon which their relationships and communities are built.

The question for the week is “who is your back of the motor-scooter teacher?”

  • Is there someone who has offered you a perspective or question at work that got you to stop, even if just for a moment, and realize what matters most to you?

  • Have you acted “as if” that were true? 

  • If not, what small step could you take towards that direction?

Leadership moments are happening all around you, at home, at work, in Bali and elsewhere.

We invite you to share one of your favorites here.

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