Leading from Behind

कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन।
मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि॥ २-४७
Karmanyevadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana,
Ma Karmaphalaheturbhurma Te Sangostvakarmani|| 2:47
16251623_10154136361947536_2686620056870680894_o
Thus says Bhagavad Gita in the Chapter 2 (Karma Yoga). It broadly translates to “You have the right to work only but never to its fruits. Let not the fruits of action be your motive, nor let your attachment be to inaction” As in any of our scriptural texts, the purport goes far beyond the literal translation.
Most of us work for a material result and it is this result that motivates us to work. For instance, if every student study for the sake of marks, they become obsessive and selective in their study. The knowledge or learning thus becomes a lop-sided, short-lived gain. They lose out on long term gains like insight into and understanding of the subject. In fact healthy study habit itself is a casualty. By healthy study habit, I mean that which signify the ability to learn and apply.  What this in effect does is to constrain oneself into boxing their belief that all events in life is defined in terms of Success or Failure, which defeats the larger purpose of life.
Another example: Consider a teacher working in a school, with her Principal watching over her shoulders. More often than not they end up demonstrating their sincerity and diligence to the Principal and not focused on helping the students learn. As the world often does, Principal becomes pleased and will rate them high even if the teacher is not successful in their primary duty of facilitating learning.
boss
As Henry Ford said, “Measure of Quality is what we do when no one is watching” Unfortunately, many work for the approval of the world and not for our own approval
Another purport, though the verse above says, that there should be no attachment to inaction too. Wrong action many times results in disaster. Some time we need to take a call on detaching from work itself. We become obsessed with our own creations at work. Even when we know we had gone wrong, we persist for a bit more to make it a success, many a times knowing well that it wouldn’t work.
digging-shallow-well
Pic Courtesy: Web: Shallow Waterless Well and Not giving up

Take the case of this well digger.  He continues to dig a well deeper and deeper just because he started it, knowing well after a while that it is not going to yield any water. This despite experts with technologically advanced Water table Prospecting tools, sounding out to dig one well at a particular spot. Ego did not permit him to abandon and move towards that spot.

dsc01041
Pic Courtesy: Web: Digging deeper and deeper
It is not too difficult to find such well diggers at work. Lack of an objective feedback system insulate many from determining the pitfalls of a designed intervention. In such cases, detachment from work and looking at it objectively would help us realize the futility of our effort, retrace the steps and pursue more effective path.
In reply to a question “As a person taking up an assignment at the corporate level, how can I be effective as a leader” during one of the Satsangs in the Art of Living Ashram many many years ago, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Improve your communication skills. This involves a great deal of listening and detachment from the situation (rising above the situation). This is much needed for anyone in corporate as your grown. A good Manager cannot afford to be impulsive, short tempered, incommunicable, unfriendly and lacking in confidence. In the presence of these things one will not be able to do business properly.
Remember one thing, the manager of the Universe is not so obvious. The one who manages this universe does not make it so obvious that he is doing it; or that He is in control.
Similarly, manage from behind. Leading from behind is the best. When you want to lead a project you should not emphasize your leadership too much. You should do it from behind.
There is a saying in Sanskrit, Paroksha Priyahi Vai Devaha, which means that the Gods like to do things indirectly and not so obviously.  A person feels, ‘I am doing it’, but it is the Gods who make them do it. So they give the people the joy of feeling that they are doing it, but in reality, it is the Divine energy that does it in a subtle manner, which is not so obvious.
14657280_10154612230743555_5576410596857431123_n
Satsang in The Art of Living Ashram
By the way, it was “Yours Truly” who posed the question and received the answer.
Good Leadership should be like the string in a garland – invisible to the outside world, but in its absence, the flowers fall apart
Further read:

Significant Seventeen – Have a great one!

Dearest Vishnu

A very happy 17th Birthday to you!

vishu_0109

It is believed that miracles happen to one in a billion. But we have never thought that we would be among the lucky ones until we had you this day 17 years ago, the year they called it the Millenium Year. Doesn’t it look like it was just yesterday that I blogged a wish for you on the 16th Birthday (Jeeyo Hazaaron Saal – Ashrit) Shared it for the lovely pictures compiled in it.

bday_0105

Hey Seventeeeeeeennnnnnn… Years! Where did the time go? I remember so vividly those moments I met you, outside the OT of Agadi Hospital. These lines sounds cliche. But when I got to carry you for the first time that morning and laid you on my chest, I swear it was swollen with pride. Nothing has changed to this day. Except that you have another constant companion… Your GUITAR! Not many can do what you did! Learn it all by yourself and though not a genius in the class of Jimi Hendrix or Duane Allmon, you are not any worse.

img_20160206_194650

What do I want to see changed in you? What!!! No way, Young man. Keep being you, follow your heart and dream big! We could not be more proud of you as you fill our hearts with pride with every moment and everything you do.

vishnu

Many a times, we learn equanimity (yeah, head to the Dictionary to find exactly what I mean here) from you. The coolest way you deal with situations is a treat to watch. I am sure there is a churn within, but you disguise it so well that clowns can do away with their funny dresses and borrow your attitude 😛

You may not be academically on top, but you are not bad there either. In any case, as we keep telling we love you and not your grades (9.1 is not bad by any yardstick for us considering your guitar, sports, drama and music). Don’t you worry, your  smile and happiness more than makes up just in case grades drops.

In a few years (not that you are not one already) you will grow up into an young little man, smarter and wiser to the vagaries of the world. But I am so confident that values that Amma and the uncles, aunts and cousins have instilled stands in good stead to take it head on. But then the only image imprinted in my mind will be that I first painted 17 years ago.

And finally as you really stand shoulder to shoulder literally, I am proud and grateful to the divine for the wonderful gift called you. What more could we parents and your sister ask for? Stay how you are, happy, smiling, caring and smart. The way things have shaped up, the wings are ready and spread for you to take flight to great heights. We pray that you have the strength and tenacity to last the course admirably. Just a piece of advise and caution – Continue to the great human being that you are!

Love you loads and Wish you a very happy birthday. Have a super duper one, Dude! Thanks for bringing the smiles on our face every day and our prayers that it brings a lot of them today and every moment of the year ahead.

Significant Seventeen:

Tarot Cards says 17 as Card of Stars – which symbolized all wishes coming true.

It takes 17 muscles to make a smile. Let the whole of 17th year keep these 17 muscles working overtime. 

Dip or Cul-De-Sac

There was once a famous Master archer who invited his disciple to watch him in action. Though the disciple must have seen this so often, he obeyed the teacher and both walked into the garden. They reached a towering lamp post and the Master took a rose and placed it on “Tee”.

The Master then takes out his bow and arrow and differently for the day, he pulls out a white piece of cloth.  He walked and positioned about 100 steps away from the lamp post and asked his disciple to blind fold him with this piece of cloth which the disciple promptly obeyed.

Facing the lamp post and the target – The Rose and asks, “How often have you seen me do this?” The disciple truthfully says so many times that I have lost count and each time you have managed to hit the rose more than three times this distance away.

The Master then aims at the Rose and release the arrow…. Swwwwiiiissssshhhhh…..

Forget hitting the Rose, the arrow embarrassingly doesn’t even go anywhere near the Lamp post. The teacher asks, “Did I make it?”

bow

Disciple replies “No Master! You missed it completely and I thought you were to demonstrate your ability to control the shot by thought and to perform the magic”.

Master replies, “I just taught you the most important lesson about the power of thought. When you target something concentrate and focus only on that. No one will ever hit a target they cannot see”

travel-quote-9

How often do many of us end up on a journey like this, without knowing where we are headed? We can never teach what we don’t know, nor lead to we were never go. Yet we hang on to this journey till we are totally spent. As the wise Chinese men said, “Knowing when to quit is the best strategy”.

Which brings me to marketing expert Seth Godin book  “The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick)”. A guide on strategic quitting. Godin explains that, in order to know whether or not to quit, you need to determine if you’re in a “dip” or a “cul-de-sac”

A “dip” is when the going gets tough, but there’s the opportunity to be the best in the world when you come up on the other side.
A “cul-de-sac” is when you’re just going around in circles, and continued effort isn’t going to get you anywhere.

Godin explains that if you’re in a “dip” you should buckle down and keep going. But if you’re in a “cul-de-sac”, it’s time to wave a white flag. I agree with Godin’s analysis.

Finally, a rule of thumb I followed all my career (both sporting and engineering career) Quit when People ask “Why” not “When”