I believe we are, each of us, connected to every person and everything on this Earth, that we are in fact one divine organism having an infinite spiritual existence.
— Jane Catherine Lotter, from her self-authored obituary

Published on July 28, Ms. Lotter's unsentimental yet touching death notice  soon went viral. She expressed belief in a cosmic interdependency, which may be considered esoteric philosophy. But truly, it is irrevocable fact.

Her words, along with something I heard recently at a yoga festival, has me pondering why we cling to the mechanistic view when acknowledging and honoring the holistic would serve us far better.

We isolate, label, and categorize parts and pieces of parts. We use our labels to focus on fragments rather than striving to comprehend context. Too often, we raise the flag of individualism without taking into account that, as Ms. Lotter wrote, we are in this together. It’s not just feel good kumbaya. It’s fundamental fact.

During a yoga class taught by Jules Mitchell at the Flagstaff Yoga Festival,  she talked about the drawbacks of thinking about the body in parts. Without a doubt, labeling body parts is useful for understanding physiology.  It also can lead to simplistic, counterproductive, or foolish thinking.  “If a teacher instructs you to fire up your quad muscles, you probably focus on  doing that,” she said. “But really, you need to be aware that action is going to affect your entire body.”


We fall into that thinking around food as well. Researchers are beginning to develop an understanding of the complex interplay of hundreds of nutrients found in whole foods. Scientific studies confirm that natural, whole foods deliver a nutritional wallop that can’t be replicated by consuming isolated nutrients – even in concentrated doses. Taking the carotene out of the carrot and consuming it as a supplement, for example, has the potential to do damage. The magic happens by ingesting the whole carrot.

Work highlights our mechanistic tendencies as well. For more than a century, work has been organized in ways that discount the whole and make crucial interdependencies almost invisible. People are assigned roles and responsibilities. They answer to a supervisor, who answers to a manager, who answers to a VP, who answers to a CEO. People define work as completing tasks in a way that pleases the boss rather than understanding how their contributions are essential to the success of whole undertaking. And the undertaking exists in a marketplace that has its own interdependencies.

A muscle requires the brain, lungs, ligaments, tendons, bones and more to function.

The carrot seed needs soil, water, and sunshine to become a vegetable rich in healthy nutrients.

If workers, teams and departments base decisions only on what is best for them without honoring  interdependencies, the enterprise will fail to thrive.

We are, each of us, connected to every person and everything on this earth.



NBA Coach Phil Jackson

NBA Coach Phil Jackson

"When a player surrenders his self-interest for the greater good, his fullest gifts as an athlete are manifested."
~ Phil Jackson, Sacred Hoops


Employees and managers alike long to learn the magic of working better as a team. In this simple quote — from a coach who has achieved 13 National Basketball Association championships (two as a player) — the “magic” is revealed. It’s neither trick nor spell that creates the magic.  It is a kind of alchemy.

“Basketball is a sport that involves the subtle interweaving of players at full speed to the point where they are thinking and moving as one.”

Think of a time when you were part of a group working on a project or toward a goal where people felt completely connected. Recall an experience where everyone on your team knew deep in their bones that individual contributions were coalescing to create a greater good.

What was going on for you? What conditions existed? How did you feel about yourself, your partners, and the work?  

“The fact is, selflessness is the soul of teamwork.”

Jackson coaching philosophy has helped build phenomenal basketball teams. He blends the principles of Zen Buddhism and teachings from the Lakota Sioux. Like those wisdom traditions, yoga also has much to say about deepening individuals’ connections to themselves, improving relationships with others, and achieving results through superior teamwork. “Magic” happens when people are intentional about why they are working together and are willing to surrender ego to something larger than self. They are willing to give an effort all they have, and then surrender their attachment to the outcome as they stay fully present in the moment.  In yoga, such surrender is called ishvara-pranidhana, and translates as “offering the fruits of one’s efforts to the divine” (i.e. the greater good).

“If the 9, 10, 11, 12 players are unhappy . . . their negativity is going to undermine everything."

Surrendering personal wants at work is an experience anyone can create. You can choose to let go of your need to be right, your desire to win, your insistence on having  your way, your egotistical impulse to look good at the expense of others. All of these things distract from connecting with your best self and with others. Clinging to "me" in the face of "we" is a disservice to the magical experience that can emerge when you surrender to something greater than yourself.