It was my first five minutes of my first day of graduation studies at the Indian Institute of Technology. As the professor entered, all the students stood up out of respect, following the social etiquette we had grown up with. “Sit down please. Not IIT style,” quipped the professor. We sat—never to stand again to greet another professor for the next four years. When our class entered the fifth year of University, students from other Universities joined us for their post graduation. For them our “IIT style” was outlandish. And no professor bothering to educate them in the new style, they continued to stand and greet all professors, even as we old-timers sat with no qualms.
But whenever our professor for structural engineering, Mr. Goyal walked in—even we stood with our new mates. It was not the professor but his enthusiasm that commanded our respect. Ever excited about his subject, he loved his service as a teacher. What to speak of becoming jaded, his enthusiasm rose with every successive class. He was a leader, and I learnt from him how enthusiasm for service can truly make a lot of difference to leadership. Enthusiasm, I saw, had the magnetic effect of pulling up even people ‘glued’ to their classroom seats for four long years.
A leader’s enthusiasm for service should be electrifying. Without enthusiasm there is no life, what to speak of there being a leader. If the leader isn’t excited, how could he or she stir up excitement in the rest?
Regarding enthusiasm, I was especially struck by a passage in Peter Burwash’s book The Key To Great Leadership: “It is easy to be enthusiastic when we are doing something for the first time. The real key to great leadership is to maintain that ‘first time’ enthusiasm when we are doing the same thing over and over again or when we have some trials and tribulations in our life.” This “real key” that Peter talks about remains elusive for most leaders. But leaders accomplished in spirituality are certainly exceptions.
Spirituality invigorates our enthusiasm through what I call the “lever effect.” A little physical power wisely invested at an optimal point on the lever, a simple machine, could be used to move a massive rock. As a lever amplifies physical power, spirituality amplifies our enthusiasm to serve. A little enthusiasm wisely invested in meditation every morning, in time brings forth a resurgence of unlimited and sustained enthusiasm for selfless service—a long forgotten treasure of every soul, and the long sought-after ornament of every great leader.
Spirituality is the growing trend in the business world too, as corporate leaders are turning to the lever effect offered by morning meditations. Take for example the Milken Global Conference, an annual event that attracts 3,000 leaders in business, finance, government, public policy, academia, philanthropy, law, science, news media and more. These individuals represent some of the world’s top firms, organizations, universities and governments. In this year’s conference, held between the first and fourth of May, the organizers introduced a morning slot for meditation, and Radhanath Swami was invited to guide the participants. The description of this event read, “Are we realizing our full potential? Drawing on wisdom gleaned from his own transformative journey and studies with some of the world’s most insightful spiritual teachers, Radhanath Swami will guide participants through simple yet profound exercises. Start the day with a powerful and experiential reminder that a centered inner life is key to making more thoughtful, sustainable decisions—today and every day.”
Yes! It’s time to introduce the lever effect in your life for thoughtful, prudent decision-making—today and everyday.