A critical element of a fearless brand is having clarity of purpose. For many, our purpose comes clear later in life – for others, it occurs at a relatively early age. That said, it’s almost inconceivable that someone could know their purpose at the age of two – yet that’s exactly what happened in the case of Lhamo Dhondup.
Lhamo, one of 16 children, was born on July 6, 1935. His mother gave birth on a straw mat in the shed meant for the family’s cows. Their farm was located near Taktser, a small village in northeastern Tibet. The small farm-house had distinctive eaves and was located on a path which led to a monastery with a gilded roof and turquoise tiles. That setting matched exactly a vision by the Regent leading one of three teams searching for the boy who was the incarnation of the thirteenth Dalai Lama, who had died in 1933.
The Dalai Lamas (translated as Ocean of Wisdom) are the manifestations of the Bodhisattva of Compassion, who chose to reincarnate to serve the people. They are believed to be the embodiment of the compassion of all Buddhas and are the spiritual leaders of the Tibetan people.
At the age of two, Lhamo, who would later become known as Tenzin Gyatso, satisfied every challenge aimed to validate his lineage. At the age of six, he began his monastic studies – ultimately completing the Geshe Lharampa Degree (Doctorate of Buddhist Philosophy) when he was twenty-five.
Being the Dalai Lama also meant being the head of state of Tibet. In 1950, at the age of fifteen, Tenzin was called upon to assume full political power. More daunting, perhaps, than being a country’s leader at such a young age is the fact that Tibet had been invaded by People’s Republic of China in 1949. Tenzin, the fourteenth Dalai Lama, traveled to Beijing in 1954 to engage in peace talks with Mao Tse-tung. In spite of those efforts, the conflict continued to the point that, in 1959, Chinese troops suppressed a Tibetan uprising in Lasha. Things became so extreme that the Dalai Lama, and thousands of his followers, went into exile in India.
This post is not about politics. It is not about religion. It is about personal branding, and the fearless brand that the Dalai Lama has become.
Tenzin Gyatso likely knew his purpose before the age of two, but once he was recognized as the fourteenth Dalai Lama, he fully embraced his role in life. He completed his twenty-year educational journey by passing incredibly challenging and intense tests with flying colors. Though his efforts at peace talks as a teenager didn’t achieve the desired results, he continues to champion Tibetan rights. His persistent pursuit of the ‘liberation of Tibet’ earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.
He has met with leaders of other faiths including Pope Paul VI and John Paul II, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Robert Runcie, as well as several Chief Rabbis and Muslim leaders. He has met with heads of state from around the world including then U.S. President Barack Obama. It’s the Dalai Lama’s calls for peace, compassion, kindness, and a better understanding between different faiths and governments which truly define the Dali Lama as a fearless brand.
Fearless Brands know their purpose, seek greater knowledge and share their wisdom
At the age of eighty-two, Tenzin Gyatso has lived his purpose for eighty of those years. The fourteenth Dalai Lama has brought an awareness and basic understanding of his Buddhist heritage to the world. He is a self-proclaimed feminist, openly supporting women’s rights while lauding their talent and potential. His basic teaching is that compassion is the key to peace and happiness.
There is a belief that he may be the last Dalai Lama as the result of the ongoing conflict between Tibet and the People’s Republic of China. China has said that they will determine the next Dalai Lama – Tibetans, of course, plan to follow their more traditional path. There is a movie titled The Last Dalai Lama? which provides deeper insight into the life of the fourteenth Dalai Lama and what the future may hold.
The Dalai Lama has followed his purpose with passion and ability. His thoughts and beliefs have proven relevant to the majority of the world. Clearly, there is much to learn from the Dalai Lama about building a fearless brand – about living a life of happiness and contentment. What follows are my thoughts, including relevant quotes from the Dalai Lama himself.
Compassion is powerful – The true worth of any brand is determined by how much value it provides. Caring about others, compassion, is one of the most powerful ways to deliver value. A powerful thing happens when we practice compassion – not only do we deliver greater value to others, we benefit ourselves through our own increased happiness.
“Compassion is the radicalism of our time.”
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”
“Compassion is not religious business, it is human business, it is not luxury, it is essential for our own peace and mental stability, it is essential for human survival.”
Happiness lies within – Building a brand is an ongoing, ever-evolving proposition. The world changes, our environment changes, hopefully, we change…for the better. Most of what we have the power to change lies within ourselves. We must strive to maintain clarity of purpose, fuel our passion, increase our knowledge and abilities, and remain relevant to those we chose to serve.
“The goal is not to be better than the other man, but your previous self.”
“Someone else’s action should not determine your response.”
“The true hero is one who conquers his own anger and hatred.”
Adversity unleashes potential – Rather than fear controversy and adversity, strive to learn the lessons which become apparent through our difficulties. We learn and grow the most when we are forced to deal with challenges. Through adversity, we are pushed to try new things, learn new methods, and realize greater potential.
“Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.”
“It is under the greatest adversity that there exists the greatest potential for doing good, both for oneself and others.”
“In the practice of tolerance, one’s enemy is the best teacher.”
Tenzin Gyatso may have been predestined to be the fourteenth Dalai Lama, but he still had to take action. Embracing his purpose, enhancing his knowledge – making the position of Dalai Lama relevant to the world – all combine to define him as a fearless brand. Very few of us reading this are considered the spiritual leader of an entire people – yet each of us can be a fearless brand simply by following the example of the Dalai Lama.