Our culture breeds anger. Cable news and radio commentators win ratings by fuming. Drivers boil over on crowded highways. Domestic violence is on a surge. In days long past, trial lawyer Leonard Scheff used that rage to snag the attention of jurors; now he knows better. Years of studying Buddhism and meditation taught him a lesson best capsulized in the parable behind the title: Imagine yourself circling a crowded parking lot, searching for a space: Just as you are approaching it, another driver pulls in and your anger soars. Then make a simple substitution: Instead of a car and a driver, imagine a cow loping into your prized spot. If you can understand that parable, you will probably enjoy this sage book. (Hand-selling tip: This book is a self starter: It first saw light as an iUniverse offering.)
What do cows and parking spaces have to do with managing a third sector workforce?
Quite a lot, if your day-to-day life involves finding yourself in a situation where you might succumb to feelings of frustration or anger.
The Cow in the Parking Lot, by Leonard Scheff and Susan Edmiston, says you can manage your anger in a positive way through the power of Buddhism. So when a colleague screws up, a donor pulls out or a charity campaign misfires, reach for the yoga mat, assume the meditation position and chant your cares away ...
You may be wondering where the cow comes in. Well, imagine you're in a supermarket car park, circling for that elusive space. You find one, but before you can reverse in, someone else has swiped it. Now imagine that, instead of another driver, a cow has lumbered into the space and settled down. Your anger dissolves into bemusement.
Scheff and Edmiston explain that once we understand our anger "buttons", we can defuse a situation if they're pushed. Alternatively, just picture the cause of your frustration - be it a boss, colleague or donor - as a docile cow. That will soon have you smiling.
- Emma De Vita is books editor of Management Today