One evening when my daughter Erin was young, and I was unusually grumpy, she looked up at me and asked, "Daddy, have you been meditating?" We both laughed and it has become a family joke ever since. Of course I hadn't been meditating. The demands of work and the rest of life had pushed my practice into the background and she noticed. My lack of patience with her, my lack of presence, was only too obvious and she called me on it.
What I realized then is that practice was changing my life, my family life and my work life too. When I practiced interactions with employees were less strained. I didn't respond so quickly out of habit and was able to deal with the ups and downs of daily business life with less effort and emotional repercussion. I was a better businessperson.
Zen is content agnostic. It isn't about family life, or work, or motorcycle maintenance, gardening, or grooming, which is why I sometimes chafe when I see the word Zen put next to some new preoccupation.
This almost kept me from ordering Marc Lesser's book Z.B.A., which would have been a loss because he's the real deal, a devoted Zen student and priest who is also an accomplished businessperson. He draws from both disciplines and we see through his candid revelations how someone who has been transformed by Zen deals with business struggles, disappointments and change. This is the living essence of right livelihood.
Now I see that some are disappointed that there isn't more business focus here. The title, with its play on MBA does suggest a master level business course, but this book is about much more than that.
My daughters are grown now and are working and I regularly listen to their worklife dilemmas, their commitments and how and where they hold back. I hope someday they read this book because Lesser shows us that Zen allows us to fully enter our lives, work and otherwise; to be present to whatever arises and to meet it with our full selves.
So I heartily recommend this book because it reminds us, as Lesser himself discovers, that there is no escape from what we bring or more tragically don't bring, to the moment. That's the real work.