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By Debashis Chatterjee. Although it was written well over two thousand years ago, the Bhagavad Gita "Song of God" , a revered Hindu religious text, contains an immense wealth of ageless wisdom that speaks directly to the needs of today's business leaders.
Timeless Leadership takes this unlikely resource and teases out important lessons on 18 aspects of leadership, from commercial vision to motivation, decision-making, and planning. Looking in detail at what the Gita has to say about these and other issues of interest to business professionals, Timeless Leadership focuses on one central point: that once the basic thought process of man is improved, the quality of his actions will improve as well, leading to better results.
Covering teachings and ideas that have only got better with time, Timeless Leadership adapts the wisdom of millennia past for today's business leaders. Suspended in the middle of a battle, Arjuna, the leader-warrior, refuses to fight.
The epic battle between the Kauravas and the Pandavas comes to a standstill. The Bhagavad Gita zooms in on many moments of truth with an imminent battle in the backdrop: the fierce blowing of conch shells like lions roaring; massive movements of soldiers; neighing horses; battle banners fluttering on both sides.
Arjuna, the greatest warrior of his time, is driven in a magnificent chariot by his friend, mentor, and divine guide, Krishna. Arjuna is leading the battle on behalf of the Pandavas, who have lost their kingdom to their own kin, the Kauravas. In a wicked plot, the Kauravas have unjustly dethroned the Pandavas.
This is a battle for a just cause—a battle of redemption. Arjuna says to Krishna: Let me have a look at my enemies before I fight them. Krishna drives the glittering chariot, pulled by four white horses, right into midfield between the two warring camps.
Arjuna eyes his enemies: his former friends, his great teachers, and his revered uncles. He is in deep sorrow.
He wonders before Krishna how he can kill his own people, who are supposed to be loved and respected. Arjuna slumps down in his chariot in anguished indecision.
His hands begin to shake and he lays down his bow and arrow. In a dramatic turn of events, Arjuna seems completely lost in despair. He urges Krishna to show him the way. Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away.
Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true. A firefighter is trained to fight and deal with urgency. However, a leader of the future will have to negotiate not only the urgent but also the emergent—that which is not yet obvious, like a raging fire, but will emerge in the future.
A leader of a major organization remarked that sometimes he does not have the luxury of choosing his battles; he has to fight each battle as it emerges from the environment and presents itself. The unpredictability of the battle for market share and mindshare, the volatility of the environment, and the rapid-fire changes that are happening in the business and political landscape have all the trappings of a full-scale war.
A mere firefighter cannot pretend to be a warrior. The ability to deal with the emergent conditions of the war demands much more than functional skills.
It requires a rare leadership virtue called awareness. The journey of awareness starts with Self-awareness. Krishna leads Arjuna on this journey. The leader at work is a fighter who wants to be a warrior. To qualify as a warrior the fighter first needs to attend to his unfinished business: the fight within himself.
A leader of an organization who wants to achieve a target has to first focus on his inner resolve to do so. There are a million mutinies going on inside the self: the fight between reason and emotion; between the head and the heart; between what one is and what one can be.
In contrast, Krishna the warrior has finished the fight with himself. The true warrior does not deplete his energy in emotional drama that binds him to self-defeating patterns of fear and guilt.
He pierces through his self-created enemies with the sword of Self-awareness and the shield of sharp discrimination. Arjuna represents the quest of the warrior in all of us. Why am I doing battle with this life? A quest can start with no more than a question.
Arjuna is the question. His mentor, Krishna, is the answer. Arjuna is still a fighter. Krishna is the consummate warrior. He holds sway as the lord of his own mind.
In this way, it is very crucial for an organizational leader to achieve mastery over his own mind before he can influence the minds of others. Krishna is timeless wisdom in human form; he is wholeness embodied. He is the unity of life in diversity of forms. He integrates the divisive aspects of our war-torn self into one whole understanding of who we really are. In this understanding our separate and conflicting ego-edges dissolve.
We find connection even with our sworn enemies in the unity of purpose: our collective sacred identity—the dharma of our soul. Krishna teaches Arjuna how to lead in the battle of life with his undying and imperishable soul Self.
He teaches us the secret of invincibility. All wars are first fought in the mind. Therefore, it is in the mind that all wars must first be won.
Arjuna, the great warrior, has a mental breakdown in the middle of the battlefield. He does not wish to kill his kinsmen. In his refusal to take up arms against his near-and-dear ones, Arjuna heightens the battle that goes on within our own minds. The near-and-dear ones are often those thoughts and emotions we are deeply attached to. The people we are closest to are the ones we very often think of or feel strongly about. Kinship is determined by familiarity in thought and emotion. Whomever we are most familiar with becomes our family.
For the leader of an organization the conventions of business as usual have to be challenged. The war of the Bhagavad Gita is happening within the family. Arjuna, representing the Pandavas, and Duryodhona, representing the Kauravas, are cousins. Arjuna has been robbed and deprived of what is due to him and is poised to fight Duryodhona for the kingdom that is rightfully his. This war is a battle to break out of mental moulds. Arjuna is an unfinished leader. He is a work in progress. His evolving life takes him through conflict of choice.
The human mind evolves through choices. Only the human condition presents such choices. The animal instinctively fights or flees. The tiger does not ask whether it should kill its prey or shy away from it. The buffalo does not make the choice to step aside on a busy street and politely allow its herd to pass by.
The tiger is bound by its instinct to chase and kill its prey when it is hungry. The buffalo is bound by its instinct to move in a huddle with its herd. But the leader of an organization has to overcome the herd instinct that gets in the way of progress. Thus the human condition comes with a boon and a curse: We have the boon of choosing and the curse of the conflicts that we must face when we have many choices.
Whenever there is conflict in the world, human beings have to realize that there is no such thing as a conflict in reality. All conflicts reside in the content of our own mind. The summer has no conflict with the winter. Only the mind that gets conditioned by the warmth of summer resists the winter. The leader within an organization has to be deeply Self-aware to see that all conflicts start in the mind-space. Conflict arises when a mind is reluctant to get out of its entrenchment in a familiar way of life.
Whenever that order is threatened, the human mind enters into conflict with itself. His mind recoils from the breakdown of that established order in the event of a war. Arjuna is a struggling fighter. He is unable to step out of the prison of his own mind in which he is fighting himself. The agitated mind is a mob of thoughts and emotions. At any point in time thoughts swarm across the mental space like bustling crowds in a metropolis. Arjuna is dejected and despondent. He is unable to focus his thoughts on a single point of action.
He is unable to lift his bow and arrow and get on with the war. What happens when the mind behaves like an unruly mob?
Timeless Leadership: 18 Leadership Sutras from the Bhagavad Gita
Addressing thenarrow-minded, anxiety-ridden lives of modern business leaders, Timeless Leadership teaches you to refocus your energy andchange your perspective on the world and your place within it. Detailing how the sage advice of the past can help you deal withthe pressures of today's business world in order to betterunderstand and implement your vision, make better decisions, andmuch more, the book presents the wisdom of the ancient world in areadily accessible way so that you can become a better, moreproductive, and more satisfied leader. His ideas and discoveries will be invaluable forleaders throughout the world who are committed to authenticity intheir leadership. Any leader—east or west, north orsouth—will gain a powerful perspective from seriouslyengaging with this book, which I believe is bound to become a trueclassic. Itis timeless because the principles of leadership espoused thousandsof years ago are contemporary.
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You are currently using the site but have requested a page in the site. Would you like to change to the site? Debashis Chatterjee. Although it was written well over two thousand years ago, the Bhagavad Gita "Song of God" , a revered Hindu religious text, contains an immense wealth of ageless wisdom that speaks directly to the needs of today's business leaders. Timeless Leadership takes this unlikely resource and teases out important lessons on 18 aspects of leadership, from commercial vision to motivation, decision-making, and planning. Looking in detail at what the Gita has to say about these and other issues of interest to business professionals, Timeless Leadership focuses on one central point: that once the basic thought process of man is improved, the quality of his actions will improve as well, leading to better results. Covering teachings and ideas that have only got better with time, Timeless Leadership adapts the wisdom of millennia past for today's business leaders.
Timeless Leadership: 18 Leadership Sutras from the Bhagvad Gita