The owner of CMIT Solutions of Ocala, Phil Smith, applies Buddhism in business and his general being. The result is a well-balanced life we could all benefit from.
By: John Sotomayor
Even the most accomplished individuals can suffer from inner turmoil. That inner suffering would inevitably surface, and could have damaging effects in one’s personal and professional lives. For some, the answer lies with the faith and practice of Buddhism. Buddhism is quite different from Christianity, so to say that one can be both Christian and Buddhist is not accurate. For starters, Buddhists do not believe in the existence of souls, or of God. Christians do believe in the existence of souls, and furthermore, believe that the soul can have eternal life through Jesus Christ, the son of God. Christians worship God and restoring the relationship between God and man through Jesus. Buddhists are not concerned with the existence of God, rather seek after the “non-self” known as the anatman.
That said, it is possible to be a believing and practicing Christian while also following the philosophy of Buddhism to reach inner peace. Ultimately, what both Christianity and Buddhism have in common is the spirit of compassion. According to author of the article “Christianity and Buddhism: more similarities than differences,” Jenny Stewart, “Bodhicitta in Sanskrit, is as central to Buddhism as love is to Christianity.” In the end, whatever works for the individual should not be dismissed.
Phil Smith, the owner and president of CMIT Solutions of Ocala, a new franchise start-up in Ocala that offers information technology services for small and large businesses, has discovered the benefits of Buddhism in his life.
Phil Smith has had multiple successful careers in his lifetime. Born and raised in western Pennsylvania, Phil loved computers from an early age. In the summer of 1979, he built his first computer. His first career was 20 years in the U.S. Navy. Phil then worked 11 years as a healthcare technician project manager.
During his 11 years as a healthcare technician project manager, Phil implemented electronic medical records in some of the largest hospital systems in the nation. He was one of four project managers who implemented the electronic medical record system EPIC at John Hopkins, ranked the second most prestigious hospital for medical schools in the nation, a career highlight.
Phil then implemented EPIC at New York City Health and Hospitals, an 11-hospital system, along with hundreds of clinics in St Louis — all on one electronic medical record system. During that career, Phil has implemented computer network systems at 25 hospitals and over 800 clinics.
He retired in 2003. He moved to Ocala to be closer to his son and ex-wife. In Ocala, he worked various jobs: first, at TimberRidge as a case manager, then at Hampton Inn at Deerwood as an assisted living facility administrator.
In 2006, Phil had an epiphany that healthcare was not what he wanted to do. He sold his house, lived off his retirement from the Montgomery GI Bill for two years, and went back to school and got a degree in computers, plus certifications in healthcare and networking servers. He became employed at Shands Hospital as an IT project manager. During that time, the hospital introduced a new electronic medical record system. Phil led the team because of his knowledge of both computers and healthcare.
Professionally, Phil achieved great success. Personally, Phil was suffering in silence.
Becoming a Buddhist
For years, Phil did not have a belief system, it was not something his parents instilled in their children. If anything, he described himself as atheist/agnostic.
“In 2006, I hit an emotional bottom,” said Phil. “I started on a spiritual path in order to help the suffering within myself.”
When he lived in Gainesville, he met a woman. “We were single and she was cute,” he said. She was also Buddhist. She introduced him to her faith.
“The first time I walked into the temple, the spirituality just clicked,” said Phil. Buddhism made sense to him as a way of looking at the suffering within you in an introspective way.
“When you understand how your thought processes work, how your emotions work, it becomes very psychologically enlightening,” said Phil. “When you do the work inside of you, your whole world changes; you see the world in a different perspective.”
Before Buddhism, if something bad happened to Phil, he felt no control, which he described as a toy being shaken by a dog.
“My mental state was based upon what was happening in the outside world,” said Phil.
Buddhism has reversed that for Phil. His mental state is based upon what is happening within, which allows him to affect the outside world around him, rather than the other way around.
Phil offered this example: If someone cut him off on the road, the initial reaction of anger is not Phil’s responsibility, caused by previous response. It is after that initial thought that Buddhism says we have control over what course to take.
“I could continue to follow the story I derive, that he is a jerk and doesn’t respect me as a driver on the road, or I can take a deep breath and let it go,” said Phil.
Twelve years ago, if someone cut Phil off on the road, it would ruin his day. He would spend hours ruminating about what that driver did to him.
“I have a choice today,” said Phil.
Buddhism in Business
Being a Buddhist helps Phil to be more intuitive and observant of the needs of his clients. Phil referred to the Buddhist area called The Mindful Leader, which is focused on meditation and mindfulness.
“Because I practice meditation and mindfulness on a daily basis, it allows me to be a little bit more in tune with people around me, and to recognize when they are suffering or having a difficulty.”
CMIT Solutions of Ocala is a managed IT service provider, which means they monitor your computer IT infrastructure remotely.
“We identify problems and issues before they become prevalent, and are able to go in through the back end and fix them before you even know it is broken,” said Phil.
Currently, they have a 500-engineer, number-one-rated-in-USA network operations center, and a 24/7 help desk located in North America. They currently monitor roughly 40,000 workstations and roughly 4,000 servers nationwide.
As a managed care client, CMIT Solutions of Ocala will meet with clients either monthly or quarterly, depending on the business owners need. They are presented with executive summaries, which reveal how many viruses or adware were stopped, how many help desk calls were addressed, how long each call took place, and other needed metrics.
Those measures help spread out the IT cost and decrease or prevent the downtime.
The current model for most small businesses is the “break-fix” model: In other words, the mentality that one would plug in the computer and it would run for five years without the need for maintenance.
“If you were to apply that to your vehicle, lock and load changes for checking the tires or tune ups, your car would require negligence work,” said Phil. “With computers, over time, they work slower.” With the car analogy, without regular maintenance, such as an oil change, you would incur greater costs by requiring new transmission replacement, plus loss of use of the car while being repaired, so you have to pay for an expensive rental.
What CMIT Solutions basically does is put software into the computers to monitor them remotely. The can see when the hard drive is getting full or see if a problem is developing, so they can be proactive in repair.
According to Phil, his practice of Buddhism helps his customer service. When people are more conscious of what is going on inside of them, they have an easier time recognizing that someone else is having a difficult time.
“That mindfulness allows me to recognize what is happening around me to take action,” said Phil. “The change produced in others has a ripple effect.”
Being a Buddhist
“Saying one is a Buddhist is like saying one is a Christian. There are many types of lineages,” said Phil. “I happen to be a Tibetan Buddhist.”
Tibetan Buddhism has four major lineages. The lineage Phil follows is very structured, with meditation being a big part.
“Keep in mind, Buddha was a human being born 2,500 years ago, but he was not a god,” said Phil. “He is more of a mentor than a higher power.”
There is no concept of god or higher power in Buddhism.
“Buddha was a human being who eliminated all suffering within himself,” said Phil.
There are Four Noble Truths in Buddhism. The first truth is you will experience pain and suffering in your life. It is not an option. You will get sick, you will get old, and you will die. The second truth is that all suffering is caused by desire. You want something you do not have or you have something you want to get rid of. If you eliminate the desire, then you eliminate the suffering.
The third truth is to get rid of suffering, you must get rid of desire. The fourth truth is to eliminate the desire, there exists an eight-fold path. The eightfold path is basically eight principles applied to one’s life to help eliminate that desire: having the right views, intentions, speech, actions, livelihood, effort, mindfulness and concentration.
Phil has been an active Buddhist for 12 years. His faith has given Phil an outlook on life centered on core sense of peace, serenity, and happiness that is unshakeable.
Sharing his enlightenment on Buddhism to Ocala serves his purpose for returning. “Part of the path is to make sure I am in a place to be able to give before I start giving,” said Phil. “With this start-up franchise, I need to become viable first, financially solvent, and then I can begin to look into doing more community service.”
Contact CMIT Solutions of Ocala:
1294 SE 24th Rd Suite #2
Ocala, FL 34471
Books on Buddhism
Here are five of Phil’s picks for beginners in Buddhism.
When Things Fall Apart – Peme Chodron
The Mindfulness Survival Kit – Thich Nhat Hanh
Buddhist Book Camp – Timber Hawkeye
Everything Arises, Everything Falls Away – Ajahn Chah
The Mindful Leader – Michael Carroll
Also, Phil’s two favorite YouTubers are:
“Venerable Robina Courtin – it’s an hour long, but ‘Be your own therapist’ is my favorite of all time. Just know VenRob, as people call her, is not your typical monk — she the monk with spunk!”
“Ajahn Brahm is also good – has a geeky sense of humor that is very endearing.”
Any video or reading of the four knowable truths and eightfold path is a good start to understand Buddhism. They don’t have one reference book (like the Bible) but the Dharmapada and Discourses (short, medium or long) are good references. Keep in mind, it’s difficult reading without some basic understanding of the principles.
CMIT Main Services
CMIT Guardian: data security system from malware. “Think of your IT infrastructure as a house,” said Phil Smith, owner and president of CMIT Solutions of Ocala. “This is the security system made up of locks and alarms.”
CMIT Guardian offers backup disaster and recovery from Florida problems, like hurricanes. They have several different backup disaster and recovery options, based not only on the size of the business, but also the risk involved.
CMIT Marathon: comprehensive, proactive technology management. They install two small pieces of software on the computer. First, a telamon, which monitors the hardware. It makes sure everything is running smoothly. It can be put on schedule to thin out the recycle bin once a month, or reboot the computer every Sunday night, which gives it a fresh start for the week.
The second is Webroot, an anti-virus/anti-malware software. Antiviruses take up much of the computer’s resources to keep it running smoothly. Webroot is on the cloud so it does not take up the computer’s resources, which makes the computer run faster, with instantaneous updates.