Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Conviction or Compromise?

Many a time, I have had to say ‘Yes’ when the need is to say ‘No’! I have had to make such compromises as part of my daily routine. I cannot be ruthless in getting things done. If I need to achieve results, I also need to compromise, cajole people to walk along with me. The art of taking people along with you is the art of management. This calls for making regular compromises in the corporate world. After all, popular sayings such as George Herbert’s ‘A lean compromise is better than a law suit’ is one such. Also the one that says, ‘The swift wind of compromise is a lot better than the sudden jolt’, support my view.
In the words of E.E.White, ‘I arise in the morning between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day’.
I am faced with the confusion, Conviction or Compromise?
People feel that by going to temples and purely by performing religious rites they can attain communion with God. But spirituality truly lies in being devoted to your duty, your work, to be content and above all, being true to yourself and to all the other people who have faith in you. One who has the courage to be honest and positive under adverse circumstances is truly spiritual”, says music maestro Jagjit Singh, Padma Bhushan and Sahitya Kala Academy Award winner.
The mind is restless, forceful and strong, it is more difficult to control the mind than the wind.
Bhagwat Gita says, ‘You have the right to do your duty. Don’t think that you can create the benefits of duty. Don’t seek happiness in not doing your duty’.
While performing your duty, do not try to do something for others, because you want them to do certain favors to you. The easiest trap in the world is to begin to renegotiate your principles just a little bit to pay back a friend or do something nice for someone, who has done something nice to you.
Conviction is the conscience of the mind. Mahatma Gandhi  had once said that it is worthless unless it is converted into Conduct. A ‘No’ uttered with deep conviction is better than a ‘Yes’ merely uttered just to please someone or worse to avoid trouble.
We should never for the sake of peace and quietness of mind, deny our conviction. Always remember that the height of your accomplishment will equal the depth of your convictions (William F. Scolavino).
If you stand, stand. If you sit, sit. But, do not wobble (Zen Master Umman). Be absolutely clear about who you are and what you stand for. Refuse to make petty compromises.
Great leaders made choices that were self-consistent and those that brought them fulfillment. They may not make popular choices, but they always follow their inner conviction.
Courage and conviction are the powerful weapons. It will be sweeter if you hear about your convictions through other’s lips.

God bless


Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Cut-throatness is emerging as smartness today...

In our own corporate world, we have to show quarterly growth, irrespective of constraints. Then we tend to pursue victory at any cost. Recently, I was surprised to read the results of a survey.
The question was: ‘When no one is watching and you find a suitcase with a million rupees on the road, what will you do?’ Majority of the respondents said they will silently take the money with them. However when the same question was slightly twisted with a new condition being that there is 25% chance that someone is watching you - the majority of them answered that they would report the case to the police.
We can see from this that people do not want to be clean on their own. They do not mind in diluting their values when they know that they will not be caught red-handed. This kind of cut-throat behavior is viewed as smartness today. Ethics is what you do when no one is watching. However, today when no one is watching, wr try to exploit the situation. This is emerging as the new mantra. No more do people hesitate to make money by machinations that ensure they will not be caught. The situation is very unfortunate.

Let me tell you a few stories on this subject ..

-An industrialist who was on his death bed, called his sons and said he would divide the property he owned between the two of them. However, he wanted the liquid cash (money) that he had earned to come with him. Hence, he requested each of his sons to deposit Rupees one hundred thousand along with his body. After the old man’s death, his elder son returned from the burial ground saying he had made a mistake by only placing Rupees ten thousand in his father’s grave as he thought his father would not be able to count anymore. On the other hand, the younger son said he would never ever cheat his father dead or alive and had left behind a cheque for one hundred thousand rupees in his father’s grave, as had been requested.
Do you realize that the younger son is not exactly straight as it may seem. He has kept his promise only because he knows that the dead man would never visit the bank to present the cheque! In today’s world, if you see, most of us tend to behave like the second son and then go around calling ourselves straight. This in my opinion is cut-throat behavior.

-Let me tell you another interesting story. A village once initiated a milk collection drive for its poor children. It was agreed that before daybreak every family in the village would contribute a glass of fresh milk to the collection. One villager thought that since the whole village is to contribute, it would do no harm if he put in water instead of milk. Nobody would find out and they would have collected enough milk from others anyway whereas he would have more for his family. In the darkness of early next morning the villagers poured their contributions into a common container. At the appointed time when the container was opened in the presence of all the villagers it was filled to the brim. But guess with what! WATER! So, Arjun, are you like the villagers? Would you like to live in a village where you have such neighbors? Irresponsible people are most interested in individual profits than individual responsibility.
Now, where do we go from here? This is the kind of success that we enjoy. This is the reality. In the words of Ayn Rand, ‘You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of reality.’ We are in a race between co-operation and catastrophe and the threat is overrunning our response (Sam Nonn). If we respect each of our stakeholders, then we will be operating in a fair manner. Cut-throat behavior is clearly nothing but winning through unfair means, while real smartness is winning through fair and just means. We should demonstrate conviction towards our value framework, instead of compromising on our priorities just for attaining victories.

Be smart but a cut-throat.,. Stay blessed


Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Can Character and Competence Coexist?

Here is a lively story from the Great Epic “Mahabharata”. I fondly recollect this particular recital – ‘
‘Dronacharya, the great Guru taught skills of archery to the Pandavas and Kauravas, the two royal family groups. Arjuna of the Pandavas was his favorite student. In the modern days, we talk of the inter-continental ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads and all that. In those days the missiles in the form of arrows, backed by proper chanting of hymns would annihilate the targets. These chants to go with the astras were taught only to a select few by the Guru.  The yardstick to identify the deserving was far different from what that our children face today as entrance tests.
The guru’s son Aswathama also studied with the royals and was as skilled in archery as Arjun. These classes used to be conducted at the Guru’s home, as these young students had to stay with the guru on a 24 by 7 basis and learn.
During one such practice sessions, Guru Dronacharya took Arjuna separately to a nearby forest and started teaching him the most powerful ‘Brahmastra’. It was the most powerful archery tool ever.
Dronacharya’s favoritism towards Arjuna aroused lot of curiosity in the Guru’s friend, ‘Why would he not teach of Brahmastra to his own son, Aswathama who demonstrated equal skill, perception and speed in learning?’ Unable to resist, the friend asked Drona the reason for his action.
What was interesting was Drona’s reply.  He said, ‘My dear friend, I am not surprised that such a thought occurred to you. My son has all my competence too. But that is not just enough to use this astra. A balanced mind alone makes the astra work. Aswathama, in my humble opinion, lacks such balanced mind and ability to time.

Character without competence is an empty paradise, competence without character is a crook’s paradise. Charater with competence alone is the real paradise.
God bless


Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Results may crown you or crucify you...

We hear this too often..
work is virtue, work is worship, do your duty without any attachment thereof. Does that mean that we have a right to our duty and not to its fruits thereof?
A student works hard to get a top rank. A farmer works hard to get a good harvest. An executive works hard to go up the corporate ladder. Without an objective there is no incentive to work hard. How is it possible to work without attachment?

Please note that the verse does not say that you have no right to the fruits of labor! It urges you to do your duty but learn to accept the result. You may expect but you should have the realization to accept the result of whichever nature. You cannot control the result. Hence give priority to your duty and not to the result. The same thing was said by Confucicus (551 BC – 479 BC), ‘The mind of the superior man is conversant with righteousness, the mind of the mean man is conversant with gain’.

Being dedicated to work has to mean ‘working for the sake of work, generating excellence for its own sake’. If we are always calculating the date of promotion or the rate of commission before putting in our efforts, then such work is not detached. It is no ‘generating excellence for its own sake’, but working only for the extrinsic reward that may (or may not) come by. Working with an eye on anticipated benefits, means that the quality of performance of the current job or duty suffers – through anxiety for the future. In fact, events may not always respond positively to our calculations and hence expected fruits may not always be forthcoming. We should not mortgage our present commitments to an uncertain future.

It has been held that this principle of detachment leads to lack of incentive for effort, striking at the very root of work ethics. To the contrary, concentration on the task for its own sake leads to the achievement of excellence – and indeed to the true mental happiness of the worker. Thus, while commonplace theories of motivation may be said to lead us to the bondage of extrinsic rewards, the detachment principle leads us to the intrinsic rewards of mental and indeed moral satisfaction.

The result can crown you with a kingdom or can crucify you on a cross. You should have the readiness to accept the result, while doing your duty.
Chase as far as the input / effort phase is concerned, and learn to face as far as the result phase is concerned. To put it in another way – ‘Do your duty and be prepared to face the result of whatsoever nature, don’t give up!’ Since there always seems an affirming view coming from the Western world on anything that the East propagates, let me quote from William Shakespeare. He said, “Three sentences for achieving success: know more than others; work more than others; expect less than others.” Therefore you should stay focused on the purpose not on outcome.”
Stay on purpose, not on outcome

God bless


Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Count your blessings , not your curses

When we face successive failures, it is difficult to regain optimism. The lectures on positive thinking may have a soothing effect for a day. The shelf-life of a lecture on positive thinking can be at best one or two days. Many could not even get out of the bad phase till their death despite intensive efforts. Only 1% of them end up being successful. Is that destiny?

“Dwelling only on your destiny deprives you of your dues . The unexamined life is not worth living (Socrates). The problem with most of us is that we always brood over the closed doors of opportunities. We never see so many windows of opportunities open for us. A pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity: an optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty (Winston Churchill). We need to have the courage and conviction to face adversities.
Don’t jump to conclusions on destiny and give up. You might have faced difficulties, Premature pregnancy is dangerous for the baby. A prolonged pregnancy is dangerous for the mother. Hence don’t jump to conclusions too fast nor delay your realization. Evaluate yourself calmly.

We forgot the flower’s aroma amidst the perfumes we developed. We forgot the full moon’s light amidst our mercury lamps. Devoid of courage, we stay content at safe positions and face unseen retardation. Without doing things with full conviction, we call ourselves unlucky and brood over our failures.

When the world was believed to be flat, Galileo challenged it. In the same way, the Wright brothers proved that humans could also fly like birds. Any society operating with an urge to grow will always look ahead.
You are what your deepest nature is.
As your nature, so is your will.
As your will, so is your deed.
As your deed, so is your destiny.

Difficulty is a part of life. Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

One day a software engineer travelled in a first class compartment of a train from Chennai to Bangalore. He used to grumble that as Project Manager he had too many things to do. Looking at his brand new hi-tech laptop and highly casual attire, his co-passenger asked, ‘Are you from the software industry, sir?’ The co-passenger greatly admired the software industry. The software engineer irritatingly replied that they have to go through several complicated processes in their field and it is not easy. He also complained that as Project Manager he had to face ever-changing requirements from customers, users always cribbing about information deficiencies and the boss always complaining about overruns. “You don’t know my friend, what it is to be in the line of fire!” he blurted.

The co-passenger patiently listened and said, “I definitely know what it is to be in the line of fire, young man! There were 30 of us when we were ordered to capture point 4875 in Kargil during the war between India and Pakistan – in the cover of the night. The enemy was firing from the top. There was no knowing where the next bullet would come from and hit whom. In the morning when we finally hoisted the tri-color flag at the top, only four of us were alive. In the army we took the first pledge – the safety of the nation first followed by the safety of the men we commanded, and lastly our personal safety. I have surely faced the line of fire in the army too often sir,” he said. The software engineer felt ashamed of his constant cribbing and bowed to the Army man.

There are so many people around us who face harder battles than us; we should understand this. When something negative happens, we need time and support to deal with the consequences. With time, things heal and we move on. We should not keep brooding on the wounds and failures, as we need energy to move in a positive direction. Nurturing the wounds would only buttress our failures.

When one works for a goal, even if victory is not achieved, he will be happy for having made honest attempts. Mental fatigue and the loss of drive to achieve are the foes that kill us.

Stay hungry,stay fresh, chase your passion unmindful of the outcome
God bless