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Yuva Spot : Having the Big Picture

(Extract­ed from talks at Vikasa, Rishikesh, Decem­ber 2016)

2016’s Vikasa saw quite a few par­tic­i­pants who were aspir­ing lead­ers. In one of the ses­sions, a par­tic­i­pant shared his expe­ri­ence and obser­va­tion that not every­body in soci­ety aspires to get into posi­tions of lead­er­ship; only a few do. Many peo­ple just want to work in a com­pa­ny, they want to be in a good fam­i­ly, they want to go slow­ly, and yet con­tribute to the larg­er soci­ety and not be swayed by the nature of life. Is this pos­si­ble? This is a beau­ti­ful and very prac­ti­cal ques­tion, which Adi ji answers with a per­son­al sto­ry.

When you are in bal­ance, it is a state of inner bal­ance and out­er bal­ance, and a map between these, where you see your swab­ha­va actu­al­ly can con­tribute to soci­etal well-being. When you take up such con­trib­u­to­ry actions, that is called your swad­har­ma. And hence you could be one of the soft­ware engi­neers in a com­pa­ny, and you view your actions not just as your actions and the ben­e­fits you get from them, but actu­al­ly, you see your actions ben­e­fit­ing a larg­er whole. Where, just because of you being you, you are able to do some­thing unique. That might be a role per­formed by bil­lions, and it is okay. You do it to the best of your abil­i­ty and effort.

Once while I was trav­el­ling in the Himalayas, there were more than 100 land­slides. In the Himalayas, land­slides often occur after rains. Big boul­ders would fall off, you would have to stay in that place for you don’t know how long. It would be com­plete­ly uncer­tain, maybe with no pow­er, no food, water might be avail­able but you are stuck in the midst of nowhere, because not every place is pop­u­lat­ed. And there might be these huge boul­ders, the Bor­der Roads Organ­i­sa­tion and the army do a tremen­dous job in clear­ing the way and ensur­ing that vehi­cles and peo­ple can pass through safe­ly. So it so hap­pened, I was just watch­ing every­thing hap­pen­ing, and there was this old lady and a few of her mates, who were break­ing stones. Break­ing stones, stack­ing them by the side, just doing this in a jol­ly good man­ner, not with any ten­sion or fuss any­thing, but sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly doing it and it was clear, the skill, they had gained the skill through long years of prac­tice. Tak tak tak tak, and it was get­ting done, it was very effi­cient oper­a­tion. So I was chat­ting with her - “So you are doing this work, and you are doing it so well.” She just nod­ded. “Where are you from?” “I am from a near­by vil­lage.” “So, you do this all the time?” “Yes, all the time” “Why do you do this?” She looked at me, and said,”So that you can be back home safe­ly and hap­pi­ly.” She struck me as awe­some! I had not expect­ed such an answer. She con­nect­ed every­thing beau­ti­ful­ly, what we are talk­ing as swab­ha­va, swad­har­ma, all these com­plex con­cepts, she con­nect­ed in that sin­gle sen­tence. Why are you doing this? So that you can be home safe­ly and hap­pi­ly with your fam­i­ly. Sim­ple as that. That is the big pic­ture that we are talk­ing of. It is not about becom­ing a Prime Min­is­ter or a leader, big or small, not in terms of work, but the big pic­ture. She has the big pic­ture. She is awe­some. For her, it is not just a job, it is not like,”Are yaar, kya muzee­bat hai!” (What is this man! What a pain it is to do this work!) She is not doing it that way, nor is she doing it for some mon­ey. In fact, a beau­ti­ful sto­ry illus­trates this.

A king want­ed to con­struct a tem­ple. And gen­er­al­ly it used to take many gen­er­a­tions to fin­ish the tem­ple. So he appoint­ed the right peo­ple, he made sure all arrange­ments were made, and the con­struc­tion began. He want­ed to check how it was going. So he assumed a dis­guise and inter­act­ed with one sculp­tor, who was sculpt­ing. He asked him,”Ayya enna pan­ni­tu iru­keen­ga? What are you doing?” For which this man just spat,”What?! This king does not have any oth­er work. He tor­tures us con­stant­ly. For fear of him, I am doing this. What! You are also going on.…Go! Just leave me!”Out of fear and because there was noth­ing else to do, he was doing his work.

So the raja went to anoth­er man and asked him,”What are you doing?” The man said,”Athyen keka­reen­ga? Why do you even ask? See I have a big fam­i­ly, I have to take care of them, chil­dren’s edu­ca­tion, food, neces­si­ties, so I need to earn a liv­ing. What else do I do? Unakku enna yaar. Poya Po! What does it mat­ter to you? Go!”

So the king went to anoth­er per­son and he saw that he was doing it very effi­cient­ly, very com­fort­ably and he asked him,”What are you doing?” For which he respond­ed, “This deity, if I shape it up prop­er­ly, will bring joy to the mil­lions who will come to this tem­ple for ages and gen­er­a­tions togeth­er. Long after I am gone. And that will spread cheer and hap­pi­ness. That is what I am doing.”

So this man is able to con­nect not just the phys­i­cal aspect, he is able to con­nect not just the emo­tion­al aspect, he is able to con­nect across space and time. And that is the big pic­ture that we are talk­ing of! And that is lead­er­ship. Lead­er­ship is not in terms of Prime Min­is­ter, min­is­ter, CEO or MD. Lead­er­ship, I see this old lady as a leader, because she has the big pic­ture. And she con­tin­ues doing what is nec­es­sary based on her swab­ha­va, on her back­ground. That is a true leader, hav­ing the big pic­ture.


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