Reboot Podcast Episode #55 – Fierce Compassion – with Roshi Joan Halifax, PhD

The Reboot podcast showcases the heart and soul, the wins and losses, the ups and downs of startup leadership. On the show, Entrepreneurs, CEO’s, and Startup Leaders discuss with Jerry Colonna the emotional and psychological challenges they face daily as leaders.

Episode 55 // February 16, 2017

“To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.”


Roshi Joan Halifax, PhD

Roshi Joan Halifax, PhD

Founder, Upaya Institute and Zen Center

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Episode Description

Every leader wants to feel wise. To have a quality of attention that is characterized by fearlessness. To feel grounded in a powerful, ethical way where they have moral sensitivity and are coming from a place of strong moral character, and have a strong sense of discernment. To have a capacity of self-knowledge, knowledge of what is real and what isn’t real. To be able to down-regulate or up-regulate emotions when they feel morally threatened. To speak with perspective. To distinguish between self and other. To operate out of a moral imperative.

In this episode Jerry Colonna is joined by Roshi Joan Halifax, a Buddhist teacher, Zen teacher and anthropologist. Jerry first met Roshi Joan a few years ago when she was presenting on her G.R.A.C.E. model, a process for cultivating compassion in leaders and applicable to anyone looking to cultivate practicing compassion in their lives. Throughout the episode Jerry and Roshi Joan discuss how leaders can learn to best allocate their attention, the pitfalls of pathological altruism, and how practicing compassion is the cornerstone to wise leadership.

Roshi Joan Halifax on Twitter | Upaya Zen Center | When Things Fall Apart

Show Highlights

Top Quotes:

“Can someone be compassionate and not be attentionally balanced?” – @jhalifax

“I’m going to pay attention to “how my company is doing” as a means of assuaging a voice inside of my head that says I’m worthless.” – @jerrycolonna

“Where is the appropriate application of my energy in this moment?” – @jerrycolonna

“The right hand, if the left hand is injured, takes care of the left hand.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

“What’s the point of being compassionate?” – @jerrycolonna

“A leader who doesn’t have the perspective of compassion is working at a major disadvantage.” – @jhalifax

“Compassion is the path out of these states that are fraught” – @jhalifax

“Enlightenment is fundamentally being unselfish.” – Norman Fischer

Key Takeaways

Joan Halifax is the abbot of Upaya Zen Center. She and Jerry met when they both spoke at the Mindful Leadership Summit. Joan had given a presentation on the application of a model G.R.A.C.E.. G.R.A.C.E. is a process designed to cultivate compassion in the direct encounter with someone who’s suffering. G is for gathering attention. R is for recalling the intention. A is attunement to self and other. C is considering in order to open to insight and to discern, to use the power to discern. Finally, E, is for ethically engaging and enacting and then ending the interaction.

Developing the G.R.A.C.E. model was about an exploration of compassion and in response to the burnout and the challenges to maintaining resiliency.