We are not the Doers – What it really means

“We are not the Doers! If not you, someone else would have done”
Thus spake an elderly man to me, along with a long wound story to prove this point. All fine but No boss! This Gyan from Bhagavad Gita doesn’t work the way you projected. (Your logic works only when you have absolute power over the situation and position which itself is a myth, and when you want to deny someone the credit :-P)
My understanding and flaws of such thinking in organizational context” If wrongly understood and applied, this Gyan has following pitfalls. Hence it is absolutely essential that we understand the knowledge well and then apply before we supply.
Improper understanding of “We are not the Doers” has the following perils:
  1. It lulls many into inaction. Since I am not the Doer anyway, I get attached to Non-Doer ship. Let Divine make it happen
  2. That urge to “Do it well” is lost because anyway you become already detached from “Do”ing. You end up being mediocre or not doing it at all.
  3. You will not work to acquire that Skill to “Do”. Since you are not the Doer, why to hone the skill or even possess it.
These are the essential dangers of wrong application.
The essence of this in Bhagavad Gita is Vairagya (or dispassion). How and why it works in two specific circumstances. One, when we have done a good job and Two, when we have failed. In both the cases, Do’er ship has its pitfalls.
When we are successful and we feel a Doer ship, it ends up as Ego-booster which throws us off balance. Ego blinds us to facts and slowly results in arrogance which is detrimental. We get  feeling of indispensability  (and invincibility) which is not good situation to be in (in fact it is dangerous). Realizing that we are not the Doers in this case, sets the reality (there are lot of contributory factors, a single one failing would have not helped us get the successful result). It helps us to get out of the complacence and perpetual celebratory state and move on.
When we are not successful and we feel a Doer ship, it ends up in despondence. We condemn ourselves as worthless which again it lulls us into inaction. Our thinking would be that anything that unlucky me “Do”es goes wrong. Realizing we are not the Doers, we did the best would help us get out of the mire at the earliest and move on.
In both of the above situations, practicing Vairagya, dispassion (not indifference) helps us be alert and move on in life and not get bogged down by a “Success” or by a “Failure” We do our best and leave the result to the Divine.
In organization context and as leaders, we should also realize – Not anyone can “Do” it. It requires skill and tact. We are not the Doers… But someone has to Do it… And Doing it require Skill… and Commitment
Looking back and considering what is happening today – I am laughing my bottoms off.
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Accountable or Responsible

What we don’t let go, we carry as a burden. A few weeks back, I was at cross roads of my career, especially that as a leader. While a couple of seductive options (materially) laid bare before me, it was a painstaking to take a call on the way forward. One evening on my regular journey in the e-World, I chanced about my favorite  “The Fable of the Bridge” by Rabbi Friedman that threw gave me a whole lot of lessons as well as direction to the path I should take. (Received via Yahoo group mail – yes it was very popular those days) Read on…. (reproducing it for the benefit of those who haven’t read it before)

It is a moonlit night and alone in his thoughts he starts crossing a bridge. The man sees out of the corner of his eye a stranger dressed much like himself coming towards him. He thinks the man approaching is putting his hand out to greet him. However, the stranger has the end of a rope in his hand with the other end entwined around him.

The stranger asks the man to hold the end of the rope. Whilst perplexed the man complies.

The stranger asks the man to hold on tight with two hands and then promptly jumps off the bridge toward the swift running deep river below. “Hold on” the stranger cries. The free-falling body hurtled the distance of the rope’s length, and from the bridge the man abruptly felt the pull. He held tight despite being almost pulled over the side of the bridge.

Peering down at the stranger who was close to oblivion, the man yelled, “What are you trying to do?”

“Just hold tight,” said the other.

The man tried to haul the stranger in but he could not. He could not get enough leverage. His strength was almost perfectly counterbalanced by the other man’s weight.

“Why did you do this?” the man called out. “Remember,” said the other, “if you let go, I will be lost.” “But I cannot pull you up,” the man cried. “I am your responsibility,” said the other. “Well, I did not ask for it,” the man said. “If you let go, I am lost,” repeated the other.

The man looked around for help, tried to invent solutions but could not think of any that would work. He waited for someone to come and help pull the stranger up, but no one came. Fearing that his arms could not hold out much longer, he tied the rope around his waist.

“Why did you do this?” he asked again. “Don’t you see what you have done? What possible purpose could you have had in mind?” “Just remember,” said the other, “my life is in your hands.”

Time passed and a decision needed to be made. The man could not hold on much longer.

A thought occurred to him. If the stranger hauled himself up and he kept the end steady and pulled a bit, together they could get the stranger back to safety. But the other wasn’t interested.

“You mean you won’t help? But I told you I cannot pull you up myself, and I don’t think I can hang on much longer either.” “You must try,” the other shouted back in tears. “If you fail, I die.” The point of decision arrived. The man said to the other, “Listen to me. I will not accept the position of choice for your life, only for my own; the position of choice for your own life, I hereby give back to you.”

“What do you mean?” the other asked, afraid. “I mean, simply, it’s up to you. You decide which way this ends. I will help you if you help yourself.”

“You cannot mean what you say,” the other shrieked. “You would not be so selfish. I am your responsibility. What could be so important that you would let someone die? Do not do this to me.”

He waited a moment. There was no change i the tension of the rope. “I accept your choice,” the man said, at last, and freed his hands.

This was the Eureka Moment for me too. I was clinging on to something that I should have let go. There was no way I could lead or help others by doing things for them. I realized that while I am accountable for others, I was not responsible for them.

unlocking-power-accountability-employees

Definitely it was not for me to be tied up like this man in the fable to others’ needs and happiness alone. It was about choices and not perfection of the solutions. I had to take a call and make my choice. It wasn’t easy to let go of something that was a passion for many months – a shared passion with the team. And Lo!

I found the solution again. What was I clinging on to? Was in a role – did the best and move on.

A man was running for his life to escape a hungry tiger.
He came to the edge of a cliff, stepped over and held onto a vine. The tiger couldn’t reach him, but there was no way up again.
Looking down he saw another tiger at the bottom waiting for him to let go and fall.
A rat appeared and began gnawing at the vine.
The man noticed a strawberry growing on the face of the cliff.
He held the vine with one hand and with the other grabbed the strawberry and ate it. How sweet it tasted!

The choices that were offered by life was too sweet to be missed anymore. Decision was clear and action too – I MOVED ON. No sense of doership or ownership, just like the flowing water below the bridge. Instruments in place for carrying out the bidding of the Divine. Enjoyed the journey, met a lot of co-passengers – most of them friends for life.