Matthieu Ricard: “Leaders need wisdom to serve the public good”​

Auteur: Navi Radjou

Prasad Kaipa and Navi Radjou’s book, From Smart to Wise: Acting and Leading with Wisdom, is more than welcome. It is high time indeed that the leaders of this world, those in business as well as those in politics, are inspired more by wisdom, ethics and the pursuit of the common good.

Intelligence is a very powerful tool. But it can just as well be used to build as to destroy, to do good as well as to harm. We all use intelligence to understand, imagine, calculate, predict and make decisions. But it is the motivation that drives it that will make intelligence a vehicle for the achievement of the common good or a formidable instrument for promoting the most selfish, venal and destructive interests that one can imagine.

Our motivations animate and color all our thoughts and actions. It is they that determine the direction of the journey we undertake, the ethical quality of the sphere in which our activities take place, and the impact of our decisions and actions on those around us.

Clearly, ideally, the best thing we can do is to simultaneously do good for others and for ourselves. The pursuit of a purely selfish success is doomed to failure. Even if it may experience some ephemeral success, it will ultimately fail because it does not take into account the fact that we are fundamentally interdependent: our prosperity, our well-being and our fulfillment can only be achieved with others, through others.

We know the importance of competition, both in the business world and in the evolution of species. But recent developments in the theory of evolution clearly show that cooperation has played a vital role in generating levels of increasing complexity during the evolution of species. As evolutionist and mathematician Martin Nowak reminds us, cooperation has not only been the main architect of four billion years of evolution, but it is the best hope for the future of humanity and will allow us to raise the serious challenges that lie ahead (reference: Nowak, M., & Highfield, R. (2011), SuperCooperators.p. 271-2 and 280).

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