Leadership and Coaching in Nepal – Deborah Koehler (part 3)

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What is Usual

I can’t say that my usual breakfast conversations in Germany are about the gifts of life, but each morning I am met with smiles from all the members of the family, I live with. Laughter and joking are part of their daily interactions. There are no angry parents demanding that children clean their rooms or get out of bed so as not to be late for school. Everyone does housework with pleasure. Everyone is personally responsible. I wake up to an atmosphere of spiritual connection. How is this possible?

I was told a story yesterday of a Nepali family that finally, after much persistence, was able to obtain all the immigration papers to move to Canada. The father has achieved his dream to be admitted into a prestigious MBA program. In writing home to my friend, he listed all his accomplishments. But there was a sad note. He now understood that he had left something behind in Nepal: his happiness.

I have been in and out of Nepal for 30 years and watched all the transitions, experienced all the frustrations, and known all the hardships. But when I am here, I am happy. My face shines brighter, I laugh more easily, and there is a vibration of joy under my skin. That is not to say that, at the end of the day, after riding around Kathmandu on the back of the motorbike trying to visit all the factories I work with on issues of quality and communication, that I don’t come home exhausted. Yet, when I take a shower with soft mountain water and fragrant soap and stand out on my balcony to watch the moon rise over the distant mountains, I am always refreshed.

In the management workshops I have led, we of course discuss managerial issues and terms and concepts. But in all of them, there is a consistent, far more personal undertone: these people want more for their children, worry about the future, and wonder how they can improve their skills so they can make their country better. Conversations almost always connect, sooner or later, to family and nation and the desire for better. The care and the concern are palpable. Yes, certainly, they struggle with the tension between greed and generosity. Many are afraid to share information or insight because they fear for their jobs and want to make sure their children have a better life. But are also torn because they are see that if they give their children too much the children do nothing. They worry about how traditional cultural norms have been eroded by TV and the Internet and increased contact with western life. Of course they worry. But their pride shines through: the pride of being Nepali, of sharing with their children the rituals that celebrate the gifts of life.

Part 4