“Do not underestimate the determination of a quiet man” – Ian Duncan Smith.
When I first read the term ‘quietly effective’ in Wayne Dyer’s ‘Pulling your own strings’, I was fascinated and pondered on the need for a leader to be ‘quietly effective’. Dyer refers to ‘quietly effective’ as being focused on our inner drives based on ethics and positive values; these enhance our lives deeply even if others misunderstand or care less about our contributions. When we focus on being ‘quietly effective’ based on spiritual principles, our efforts sustain despite reversals, and we’d never lose our sense of self worth. As the famous Italian actress Sophia Loren said, “Getting ahead in a difficult profession requires faith in yourself. That is why some people with mediocre talent but with greater inner drive, go so much further than people with vastly superior talent”
Many in leadership positions suffer when harsh reality defies fancy expectations. Many also have a strong need for being accepted and honored by the world for their achievements. Accolades inspire some to work harder while the inevitable brickbats-part of the game if you are a leader- pulls you down psychologically. At such times if we have been internally anchored on principles, we can go on happily even if the world sings our glories one day or condemns us on another day. We would neither feel the need to blow our own trumpet nor wail in agony, seeking a shoulder to desperately cry on. We shall march on fearlessly guided by the divine power of God and the strength of our inner connection to sacred spiritual principles.
Working on ‘inner motivations’
During my initial days in the ashram I had the service of marketing our literature all over Mumbai. Initially although I did very little, my ashram mates showered profuse encouragement. Later as I spent more time on the field I developed better skills and my results doubled. Soon the appreciation and accolades doubled too. I was the cynosure of everyone’s eyes. Over a period of time however my ‘big’ results were an accepted fact. I couldn’t impress our ashram members anymore with my results. Life went on as usual, whether I got big scores or not. Slowly I began to lose the attention and appreciation I had got so addicted to. I was desperate for more honor and soon realized I wasn’t getting inspired to render this service. I began to give excuses and avoided my duties.
My mentor in the ashram was concerned at my indifference. I was getting stressed and distracted. My team leader helped me honestly evaluate my situation and soon I realized my performance was getting affected due to impure motivations. If I had focused on my service based on my spiritual need and the long term goal this was going to fulfill, I’d have happily continued the service of marketing and distribution of our literature. Soon with the help of my friend and team leader, I was once again on the field, this time focused on the long term goal of sharing the wisdom and helping sincere seekers on the spiritual path. This transition added joy and meaning to my service. Going out on the streets was no longer drudgery; I began to look forward to it. Seven years later I did get appreciation, but it wasn’t for my ‘results’ but for the ‘persistent perseverance’ despite so many challenges in the particular service that I was rendering.
The four ‘A’s’ that motivate us
A friend in the ashram revealed to me how in our immature state our work is motivated by the desire for ‘Acquisition’, ‘Accomplishment’ or ‘Appreciation’. If however we are driven by ‘Attraction’ to divine powers of goodness within and the sweetness of God and His sacred blessings upon us, this attraction will goad us to march on during all the ups and downs of life. This also helps us add value and meaning to other’s lives.
A few years ago I heard Radhanath Swami’s brilliant talk on ‘Failures as a stepping stone to Success’. He revealed that the real heroes in life aren’t necessarily sports champions, business magnates or movie stars but those who persevere in all situations to carry on the inner calling against all odds. “Actual Champions in every situation are those who are always focused on the goals. They make and achieve goals while losers make excuses. Therefore life is what we make of it” This reminds me of the American TV legend, Alan Alda, who echoes a similar mood, “Laugh at yourself if you may, but don’t ever aim your doubt at yourself”