Never Say Die!

‘Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite simple, really! Double your rate of failure… You’re thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn’t at all… You can be discouraged by failure–or you can learn from it. So go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because, remember that’s where you’ll find success. On the far side’. -Thomas John Watson, Sr.

How can we turn what is seemingly a failure as a stepping stone to success? Here is a very illustrative story–In the early 70s, there was a man named Fred Smith who wrote a term paper as an undergraduate, wherein he presented a novel idea, a parallel system to manage the logistic system in a complex emerging business scenario. He thought it was a brilliant idea, however his idea was not appreciated much and he landed a C grade for his project. Undeterred and with great faith & conviction in his idea, Fred activated that very project into a business model and worked hard despite challenges and huge stumbling blocks to find the world’s largest express transportation company, the FedEx Corp, which today stands worth $41 billion in revenues.

Winston Churchill once said that success is going from failure to failure without losing one’s enthusiasm. We never really fail until we give up trying, trying with determination and with enthusiasm. Actually, challenges or failures can be stepping stones or stumbling blocks on the road to success. It is all a matter of how we look at it. You can see a glass is half empty or you could see the glass is half full. One would bring you enthusiasm, one would get you discouraged. We can apply that principle to every aspect of our lives. What is of real importance is that we ensure we are on a learning continuum all the time. How do we learn mostly in our lives? We learn from our mistakes, isnt it? Mistake remains a mistake only if we fail to learn from it! Real leaders make many, many mistakes, but they do not repeat them, they learn from them, they remain enthusiastic, they remain determined to achieve their goal. Actual champions are those who in every situation are focussed on their goal, they make goals, and losers make excuses. Our life is what we make of it!

When we learn from our mistakes or our failure, we become stronger, we develop greater integrity. In the vedic texts, there is description of three types of persons in performing their duties : the first one is called a ‘kanishta’, a person who does not begin any endeavor, fearful that he may fail; the second person is one who endeavors, but turns back when obstacles and failures comes on his path & he is called a ‘madyam’; and the third one is the ‘uttam’, the first class man who keeps his mind fixed on the goal, and does not turn back till he achieves it.

So, next time you are in the face of a big stumbling block or think you are heading towards failure, take heed, just know that in that failure is the seed of success and put on the garb of the ‘uttam’ i,e mind fixed on the goal.

In today’s fiercely competitive scenario, there is also a tendency to rate our success in relative terms that of others. These kinds of comparative thought processes are not only burdensome and pull you down but also have the potency to drive you away from your desired goal. The Bhagavad Gita 18th chapter describes how you can achieving your goals in the most positive manner. It says people who perform work that causes violence and pain to others are working in mode of ignorance. Such people perform their work disregarding spiritual injunctions & this kind of work will have negative bearing on the performer in the long term. Second set of people work in the mode of passion. They endeavor very hard for selfish reasons and for reasons of self-enjoyment, don’t give up easily. However, they have to bear the consequences of such work. The Bhagavad Gita recommends the third set of people who work in the mode of goodness. Such people endeavor without being discouraged or over elated by either success or failure because they are free from dualities. They work for the good of people in general and when such people succeed in fulfilling their mission, they have the most positive bearing for themselves and for others. Such people represent true builders of the society.

Ultimately, according to the Gita, the real success of life is if we can remember God at the time of death. Death is the final exam. We may succeed in so many of the temporal endeavors of this world but we should be very careful to make sure that our human life is a success and not a failure. If we not God conscious at the time of death our human life has failed. Radhanath Swami gives the formula for success–’Have your spiritual goals and orchestrate all your duties and your material obligations in harmony with that spiritual goal and you will be successful’.

Lend me your ear!

“I already know how to listen!” told the executive to an invitation on ‘Active Listening Skill.’

‘NO ONE LISTENS!’–was the contrasting echo heard in his workgroup.

Listening is the most important of all leadership skills. However, the unfortunate truth is that most of us pay little attention to the quality of our listening, leaving a gap between “hearing” others and listening to them.

EarsIn his new book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, top executive coach Marshall Goldsmith writes, “80% of our success in learning from other people is based upon how well we listen.” Goldsmith calls listening the one skill that separates the great from the near-great. When we’re dating someone, we focus intently on what the other person has to say; the same goes when talking to our boss or a higher authority or pitching a new client. The difference is that the super-successful maintain that level of focus all the time. This is the unbelievably simple formula of a great leader and such simple formulas are available to any of us to become a super-successful leader simply by listening more and talking less.

In the Vedic literatures, the example for achieving excellence through listening is given of Maharaja Parikshit. Though Parikshit had only 7 more days to live, he took utmost care to hear very carefully from the spiritually exalted saint Sukhadeva Goswami for seven days continually. Parikshit expressed no desire to eat food, drink water or sleep during this period.

Generally, when another person is speaking, we “listen” at one of four levels: ignoring, pretending, selective listening, or attentive listening. We should be using the fifth, highest form of listening–empathic listening. Empathic listening is listening with intent to understand the other person’s frame of reference and feelings. It means you listen with your ears, your eyes and your heart. Radhanath Swami says whatever we are doing, we should do with our full heart, without any ulterior motive, with our full consciousness and then it becomes an offering of our love for God. So, it becomes pertinent, especially in our leadership roles that we shun the tendency to be preoccupied all the time and become present in the moment.

Stephen Covey in his book ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ speaks about the importance of ‘Empathic Listening’ as the crux of effective communication in the section where he discusses the 5th Habit ‘Seek first to understand and then to be understood.’ How many of us listen to the other’s point of view before rattling off our own? Covey believes that the only way to establish communication as a leader is by becoming, in small part, the person you are listening to. The experience, standing for a moment in another’s shoes and seeing the world through their eyes, is something everyone is capable of, but most of us rarely (if ever) deliberately do. It takes time to listen empathically and practice to become adept at it, but the reward is a whole new level of communication and problem solving because the leader acquires the ability to see a situation simultaneously from multiple points of view. As a spiritual leader, the art of listening is even more important than the art of talking. When you hear out the other person, something beautiful happens. The other person senses that you value him/her and a bond of trust and faith is simultaneously created. This is the true path to inspirational leadership. Radhanath Swami says the fine art of leadership is that a spiritual leader does not see through his eyes but sees with his ears!

Experienced trainer on management Madelyn Burley-Allen identifies the following immediate tangible benefits from good listening:

A Bond of Respect. Genuine listening generates respect, rapport and trust between talker and listener. In particular, followers/employees like, and respond better to, leaders who they think are listening to them.

Productivity. In a work situation, productivity will be higher when the leader hears out the problems completely before ‘advice-giving’ begins.

Cooler Heads. Focusing on listening helps both the talker and the listener stay cool–and helps them cool down–when dealing with a crisis or discussing an emotionally charged topic.

Confidence. A leader who listens well will tend to have better self-esteem and self-image as they have more chance of winning the trust of their followers.

Accuracy. Better listening leads to better recollection of important facts and issues later on, resulting in fewer miscommunications and fewer mistakes. Thus, attention to good listening technique is even more important when complex issues are involved.

Leadership element series: ‘Thought’ Leadership

Have we ever stopped to think what our mind is? Or rather what our mind is made up of, though we engage it in various activities from dawn to dusk?

Our mind is made up of thoughts. Thoughts have different colors to it–good, bad, pleasant, unpleasant and so on. It could be surprising for some of us who have not been alert—our expectations, emotions, likes, dislikes, worries, joy etc. are all in the form of thoughts. We are habituated to travel with the endless train of thoughts throughout the day, day after day.


Modern psychologists suggest that an average person with an undisciplined mind has about 50,000 distinct thoughts everyday. Almost all of them are either negative thoughts or confrontational. Even people who are well-mannered and pleasant, who spend most of their times in the privacy of their thoughts pursue mean-spirited, angry or harmful thoughts.   Every one of us experiences the same kinds of thoughts raging in our undisciplined minds unless we have a trained mind. What separates the spiritual leader (one who follows spiritual principles in his or her life) from the crowd is that he or she has learnt the art of controlling the mind and its raging thoughts.

We are led to think by our mind that it is beyond us to control the mind, so we give in to all its demands. In the Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna, the brave Pandava warrior, in the moment of utter crisis pleads to Lord Krishna, ‘Mind is so powerful that it just goes astray like a boat carried away by the wind.’ Lord Krishna provides good counsel to Arjuna when He says, ‘Mind is the friend of the one who has controlled it but is the enemy of one who hasn’t.’

How does a spiritual leader train the mind and discipline the train of thoughts and use it to his or her advantage? In this connection, Bhakti Tirtha Swami has shared something very interesting about the ‘power of thoughts’ in his book ‘Leadership for an Age of Higher Consciousness.’ He says, Although invisible to the naked eye, thoughts are things. They are individual electrical entities that group themselves with similar energy to form clusters. They are real; they are substantive; and they are a force that everyone can learn to balance and control…Nothing exists unless it is sustained by thought. Therefore, the easiest way to control and manipulate energies is by thought processes. People can control their words and actions simply by changing the way they think.’

 Spiritual leaders know that ones thoughts are not really ‘one’s own’! Just because thoughts appear or pass through the mind, it doesn’t mean one has to buy into them or identify with them or act upon them! They learn to simply let them pass by being an observer. This is how we as leaders in our own capacity can deal with all kinds of negative and unwanted thoughts that pass through our mind, i.e. by being an observer and not getting attached to the thought. Though it is not very easy in the beginning, with a little practice, we can apply it in almost every situation in our life successfully. Wrong thoughts are inside us just because we identify ourselves with these thoughts. If we identify with something else, immediately they have to leave us!

Prentice Mulford, in his famous book ‘Thoughts are things’ presents that there is a higher power who is the controller of all thoughts, and He lives within you and without. Prentice says if you can’t control your mind, don’t try; instead ask the Higher Power to change your mind for you. He concludes that all you need to do is to have faith in the Higher Power.

Radhanath Swami gives the most practical advice, ‘When negative thoughts and desires appear within our minds, we must neglect them by our intelligence, and we must choose to focus our mind on God. Then we can overcome those negative thoughts. And the easiest way to fix our mind on God whenever a bad thought comes, is to take shelter of God’s holy names.’

Steve Jobs – His Leadership Legacy

Last week saw the demise of one of the greatest technological visionaries, Steve Jobs. While the world is slowly coming to grips with the fact of his departure, the buzz in the media has been of the leadership legacy that he left behind. In this article we wish to delve into some of the key principles of life he professed and how they resonate naturally from one spiritually inclined.

Most notable of his talks was the one he gave at the Stanford University. He begins his talk admitting his failing to get to a formal college degree. Indeed, the true mark of a leader is his or her humility. Radhanath Swami often quotes how a fruit bearing tree is seen to be bent while a thorny tree is generally erect, indicating how one in knowledge (having good fruit) is naturally humble (bent). We can also note thesynonymy with the eastern paradigm that real knowledge is not a factor of formal education but rather a factor of keen awareness of one’s own frailties, and thus offering of respect to others.

Steve shares three key messages in his talk. The first he refers as connecting the dots. In this he shares his life’s past and how the various events in his life made sense when viewed from the present. He gives an example of how his taking of calligraphy classes out of interest later paved way for the provision of fonts in computers – typography would have remained lackluster otherwise. This principle of connectedness, of making choices in one’s life, of following the yearnings of one’s heart,with belief that some higher power will lead us to an advantageous position that we may not be able to foresee, is an attribute all aspiring spiritualists should nurture. In a similar context, Radhanath Swami defines faith as that substance through which we can see the invisible, through which we can connect to the Absolute Truth, God.

Second message that Steve explains is about viewing apparent reversals as having the seed for our future growth. And most notably Steve says that such reversals are inevitable and they are analogous to bitter right medicine that the patient requires. He refers to the incident where he gets thrown out of his own company that he founded after much struggle and how in that period of seemingly unfair treatment meted out by circumstance he discovers his innate creativity that becomes the foundation of his future success. Steve advises one to never lose faith in pursuance of one’s inner calling and to never get complacent of one’s situation in life. These form an integral part of the armor of a spiritual warrior – unswerving optimism and relentless urge to learn and grow. We see this principle very much illustrated in the life of Radhanath Swami also. In his autobiography Radhanath Swami shares the various gems of lessons he acquires as he passes through the crests and valleys of his journey in search for true substance in life.

Finally Steve explains his perspective on death. This talk that he gave was in 2005. And in that year he was diagnosed with cancer. Steve compares this stark reality of inevitable death as the single best invention of life. Why because it clears out the old and makes way for the new. Given that everyone has this inescapable reality awaiting, Steve suggests one to not waste time living a life of pretense and to follow one’s inner calling with courage.

Steve’s conclusion of his talk was this much quoted phrase that epitomizes his life: ‘Stay hungry, Stay foolish’. We find in the medieval history of India the life of a renowned spiritualist Sanatana Goswami. He was the prime minister in the kingdom of Nawab Hussain Shah of Bengal. He was the most sought after advisor to the King. He had riches and following. But he didn’t get complacent. He was well aware of the inevitable death and temporary nature of any situation in this world. He voluntarily gave up his position to pursue his inner calling to practice unalloyed, unmotivated, uninterrupted spirituality. This didn’t come easy as he had to overcome several hurdles including imprisonment. Finally when he got the opportunity to meet his mentor Sri CaitanyaMahaprabhu he submits himself as a fool, wanting to learn from his mentor – indeed he is considered to be the emblem of ‘Stay hungry, Stay foolish’.

We pray and wish Steve to continue his journey towards higher realizations in the continuum of life that all of us are traveling.

Leadership elements series: Patience

To be ‘Faster, faster, faster’ seems to be the mantra today. We have fast cars, fast trains, faster communication means, fast food, fast friendships, fast marriages and fast divorces too! It’s the age of instant gratification and instant karma! We want quick results. The major part of the world that is living in big cities seems to have forgotten what ‘slow and steady’ means. Why is it so?

A study by Lance Armstrong Foundation, an organization that aims to improve the lives of people affected by cancer suggests that this is due to deeply ingrained beliefs in people who are, in today’s world, experiencing mass hysteria due to acute shortage of patience and high expectations from themselves and their surroundings. If we closely examine the belief system of people today, we find they have a similar pattern of thinking. Such as-

  • I should be able to do this faster and better than what I can.
  • I have so much to accomplish I’ll never be able to do it all.
  • I wanted this to be done yesterday.
  • I would rather get a job now than go through four years of college. That way I can make more money in my lifetime.
  • If I can change and grow, you should be equally changing and growing.
  • I am trying to change, but you keep on falling back into your old habits; that must mean you aren’t trying as hard as I am.

What is the end result? Dissatisfaction, anxiety & anger, when things don’t happen according to our accord or estimation, and it’s most likely that things do not happen as per our expectation! Such dissatisfaction, anxiety and anger spreads its effect quickly and create an environment of stress and negativity. When you are a leader and in a hurry, you also run the risk of burning yourself out in the pursuit of your goal.

Stephen Covey, the renowned leadership guru admits to have crammed his way through undergraduate school thinking he was really clever. He had learned to psych out the system, to figure out what the teacher wanted. He wanted the grade and did not want hard work to hamper his lifestyle. But he quickly learnt his lesson and paid the price in his graduate work. It was a different league altogether. He spent the first three months cramming here too but ended up in the hospital with ulcerated colitis. Then he spent years trying to compensate for the foolishness of getting himself into a value system that was not tied to principles at all. Stephan says that in the long term, there are no short cuts or quick fixes, only your principles of patience come to your rescue. He has beautifully captured it in his book Law of the Farm.Plant Growth The Law of the Farm says that you have to abide by certain principles if you want to reap the best harvest. The farmer must prepare the ground, put in the seed, cultivate, weed, water, and nurture growth. He cannot rush the natural growing cycle. A good crop takes the right soil, good timing, disciplined action and above all the invisible hand of God.

Likewise, the farm of our lives (whether in a business or in a marriage) too operate on natural laws; there are no easy short cuts or magic formulas. We have to prepare the ground, invest seeds of patience, de-weed, water, nurture growth and above all regard the hand of God, i.e, His Supreme Will without which, it is said in the Bhagavad Gita, not even a blade of grass can move. It’s important to note that natural laws, based upon principles, operate regardless of our awareness of them or our obedience to them. If you are a business leader, especially you need to have long term focus, patience and perseverance.

Let’s examine what patience is. It is defined as a display of tolerance, compassion, understanding and acceptance when something or someone is slow. Radhanath Swami says patience is imperative quality of a great leader and he defines patience simply as a positive way to deal with negativity.

How to root out impatience?

Only when we root out impatience can we start cultivating patience within us. The real root of impatience is the erroneous belief that we are the masters of our fates and we have everything under our control: that we can shape our destiny according to our desires. The truth is otherwise. It’s an illusion to think that we control very many of the factors that shape our lives. In the Vedic Scriptures, it is clearly explained that the Supreme Lord is the Supreme Controller and everything moves under his supervision. Although we have a tendency to lord it over nature, we should know that we have no power to control any single factor of our life leave alone the power to shape our destiny. The moment we realize and accept this fact, we can steadily root out impatience.

Benefits of cultivating patience:

Patient attitude gets you out of the instantaneous gratification model of thinking:

Look at the history of business leaders and you will find that no great achievement was ever created instantaneously by anybody at anytime. Great achievement is always a function of patience. Impatience often makes us do rash things and engage in poor decisions because we didn’t take the time to gather the correct information and resources. So, even as the entire world around you believes in the instant gratification model, you will develop a confident edge over others by your patient attitude and determination.

Having patience makes you aware of your surroundings and allows for breakthroughs to occur:

Impatience is directly correlated with narrow-mindedness and gets the mind to focus in on the negative side of things. If you’re patient, you become open minded and you see all the positive opportunities all around you.

Cultivating patience makes you see everything in the big picture:

Patience gives you the ability to place everything along your journey in the big picture. You see the lessons that you learn and you become aware of how they can help you. In other words, you leverage every experience along the way and maximize its use. Because you see things in the big picture, you anticipate roadblocks instead of being surprised by them, which makes them easier to deal with. When you become impatient, you think short term and quit and totally miss that moment where everything clicks together.

Patience + perseverance = Success

Radhanath Swami rightly notes that with no proper training, our patience can lead us to be lazy. So, we have to develop the quality of perseverance as well. He is quick to add that if we focus only on perseverance, our determination can make us restless to achieve the results. If we are drifting to restlessness in our determined endeavor, we need to practice patience and if our patience tends to make us lazy, we need to remember the virtue of perseverance. We need to add-in the missing element in us and strike a balance. How can we balance both patience and perseverance? Radhanath Swami reveals his magic formula for success- the Triple ‘P’ formula- patience, perseverance and most importantly prayer as the key to strike a balance between the earlier two ‘P’s. A culture of prayer helps us tap the power of conscience within and gives us the discrimination to balance patience and determination. Prayers also give the leader the necessary confidence to not get bogged down when expected results don’t happen.

From Good to Great

Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one! — Marcus Aurelius

A leader driven by principles of dharma (righteousness) is elevated to the platform of spiritual leadership that enables one to be a visionary. King Yudhisthira, an emperor of the Vedic era, was such an exemplary leader. A saintly king, he was the renowned Ajatashatru (one who has no enemies), and in his kingdom reigned real peace and prosperity. Due to his flawless character, his subjects loved him. His true prowess was his unflinching adherence to satya(truth) and dharma, which were more precious to him than royal ambitions and material pursuits.

Four Pillars
Four Pillars

Excellence in leadership is about creating an environment of trust and credibility as was exemplified in the character of King Yudhishtira. Such excellence in leadership can be built on the firm foundation of the 4 pillars of dharma, i.e. Truthfulness, Mercifulness, Cleanliness, and Austerity.

  • Truthfulness is the basic principle of trust based relationships. Relationships are the basis to happiness, either in a corporate environment or in a family. Resorting to untruth or modified-truth to suit our requirement is very easy, but in the process we become less trustworthy—unknown to us. To practice truthfulness may require a conscious and concerted effort. However, once you have practiced and found merit in it, it becomes a way of life.
  • Mercifulness forms the foundation of a non-violent approach to business. In today’s world, violence is everywhere—in speech, in action and in peoples’ minds. We criticize people unrestrictedly and we find it increasingly difficult to see positive aspects in others. However, if we want to become enabling leaders, we have to become positive motivators. In this connection, Radhanath Swami says that when we seek the essence in every interaction, i.e. when we look for the positive in every person, we develop a natural compassion for others and we are in a position to understand and help others in a positive manner. Such non-violence of speech, action and mind has a great influence on elevating our consciousness to a higher dimension wherein our vision becomes clear. And when we are seen as a genuinely compassionate leader, greater is our influence!
  • Cleanliness in dealings defines business morality. When we are seen as a business house with great moral standards, we evoke high respect and response. To get there, we must begin by striving to purify our consciousness (internal cleanliness). The easiest way is by adapting a lifestyle that promotes a pure conscience. According to all the major scriptures of the world, chanting the holy names of the Lord and study of the scriptures are the two recommended processes to purify and elevate our consciousness. With a little practice, it becomes a way of life and when we conduct our business with the highest ethical and moral standards, the Lord grants us peace of mind as well.
  • Austerity of speech, action and thought form the best source of connectedness with higher energy fields. Through them we are propelled to strive for higher goals, as opposed to striving for power, money, prestige, position, control, etc. Austerity means to use speech, action and thought as a means of service for the good of others and limiting its use otherwise. Overall, moment to moment conscious living.

Great leaders are not born, they are made! The character of a person is much like a fine sculpture of marble or stone. The rough and unnecessary sharp edges from the raw material need to be removed. The process involves time, a hammer, and a chisel. Piece by piece the sharp edges are smoothened. If the stone or marble could ‘feel’, it would not be a pleasant feeling to have parts of it removed so harshly. Similarly, building ones character is a struggle, but if we persevere with the end goal in mind, we will be blessed with unimaginable fortune—the mettle which great leaders are made of will be ours too!

“Good character is more to be praised than outstanding talent. Most talents are to some extent a gift. Good character, by contrast, is not given to us. We have to build it piece by piece—by thought, choice, courage and determination.”— John Luther

Do you have it in you?

Walt Disney, arguably one of the exemplary leaders America has produced, in his life, and since his death, did more to touch the hearts and minds of millions of Americans than any other person in the past century.

If we study Walt Disney closely, we find how he toiled all through his life to make a difference in the lives of everyone who had interactions with Walt Disney Productions. He was always striving to make people happy, had a strong commitment to his employees, worked hard to build relationships with them and knew each person by name. He wanted his employees to be happy, and he worked closely with everyone in his company. One of the best examples of his willingness to develop relationships is evidenced by his eagerness to help his employees learn more about animation. Walt offered the chance for his employees to attend art school, at his expense. Many of his animators took advantage of Walt’s offer, and as a result, their work improved greatly. They were enthusiastic about this opportunity and were grateful to Walt for taking an interest in their futures.

“You don’t build it for yourself. You know what the people want and you build it for them.” -Walt Disney

Radhanath Swami puts it all into perspective while defining the true characteristics of a leader. He says, “Leadership means taking responsibility of others, which means one must be selfless. Selflessness means putting aside our own well-being and desires as secondary and to think primarily of what is best for the persons who are looking up to us.”

When we focus on our selfish agendas, we move away from drawing strength from the divine realm. We find ourselves in the grips of fear, frustration and anxiety: fear of losing, frustration sets in because of rigid roadblocks in the race to succeed, and we are always anxious due to excessive competition. The fall outs of these conditions that we bring upon ourselves have far-reaching effects on our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well-being. However, when we focus on executing our job as a selfless service to others, for their welfare, we draw strength from the divine realm, we find our energies refreshed and revitalized, and we see happy people around us willing to help us in our cause. Inadvertently we earn more respect. What’s more, we find nature and the whole ecosystem conspiring to make us successful. This, I believe is the secret of success of stalwart leaders of the world, be it Walt Disney or Mahatma Gandhi or Abraham Lincoln or Mother Theresa, as they always put the needs of others before their own and in return received the grace of the divine.

Today’s ego-centric world is strewn with people in leadership positions with vested interest. It needs a cleanup for sure. There seems to be a revolution-in-waiting, and the hour of the wakeup call is only nearing! Calling selfless leaders for a better today and a better tomorrow! Are you listening?

Some people are born with traits of selflessness, but the good news is that we can cultivate selflessness as our personal characteristic with practice. Remember, nothing great is ever achieved without hard work and personal sacrifice! Here are some insights into developing a selfless service attitude:

  1. Learn to subordinate our personal feelings, needs and ego for a higher cause. When we commit ourselves to a cause, we will often need to put the cause ahead of our personal goals. This may mean sacrificing our pet project or sharing our strongest resources for the greater good of the organization or the team.
  2. Practice, practice, practice. We can’t just wake up one morning and become selfless leaders. It takes practice and discipline. Selflessness often goes against our natural instincts for self-preservation. It requires us to build and exercise new muscles. We have to look for opportunities, both big and small, to practice selflessness.  
  3. Selflessness is not to be confused with lack of will or sense of self. Many may confuse selflessness with weakness or lack of will. On the contrary, selfless leaders often have wills of iron. They know what they want. As leaders we have to remember to keep thinking big and remain confident (remember, very soon you will start drawing strength from the divine realm).
  4. Understand your boundaries and priorities. If the cause is great and we believe in our ability to effect change, we should be prepared to make equally great sacrifices. We may jeopardize a big promotion or bonus to do the right thing. We may even put our job on the line. We will also make smaller personal sacrifices, like missing family events or bringing the stress of work home with us. Selfless leadership requires us to explore our boundaries fully so that when we confront choices, we are prepared to make them.

You can become a selfless leader if you have an identified higher cause for the greater good of others and if you build determination in your cause. However, you must also note that such selfless leadership calls for hard work, patience, sacrifice, and, most of all, love. You must love what you do, the people you serve, and your higher cause.

“Until we become selfless to our own selfish desires, we cannot truly give ourselves for the welfare of others” – Radhanath Swami

Seeing the iceberg!

IcebergSometimes while standing in front of the river, we may try to gaze below the surface to see the mysterious depths but may be unable to do so due to the layers of dirt accumulated on the surface.

Extending the analogy, today the river is exposing how we have the tendency to judge people on their surface appearance, and to find only their negative qualities. But if we scratch a little, go deeper and search beneath the surface we will see a beautiful soul.

Radhanath Swami in his search for love of God in the Himalayas stumbled upon a leper colony where he found an old woman in rags, severely affected by leprosy, her face deformed, lying on the ground in misery. Radhanath swami looked at her and felt in her teary eyes the love of a mother, an affection real and rare. Externally she was repelling but beneath the surface Radhanath Swami saw a mother waiting eagerly to share her love, as she placed her blood stained hand on his head. Radhanath Swami graciously accepted this as her blessings.

Leadership is about seeing the unseen, like in the case of the iceberg where only one-third of it is visible above the water while the rest remains submerged. The Titanic disaster is a classic example of failing to see the unseen. What is normally unseen could be circumstances that led somebody to do something—a hidden potential or some emotions waiting to erupt.

Sometimes we also do not see our own worth. There was this young man who took a break from education to render some voluntary service. The invitation came to go to England. Just four-and-a-half months after his arrival, the President of the organization called him and said, “I have a new assignment for you. I want you to travel across the country and train local leaders.” The young man was shocked and thought how he could train people two or three times his age. Sensing his doubt, the president looked into his eyes and said, ”I have great confidence in you.You can do this.” The President’s confidence and the ability to see more in him than he saw in himself, and the President’s willingness to entrust him responsibility strectched him to unlock the hidden potential inside him.

That assignment helped him to detect the work he wanted to devote his life to: unleashing human potential. And that is what he did. This young man is Stephen Covey, the coveted author of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and the founder of the world’s largest leadership learning company Franklin Covey.

Leadership is seeing and communicating the worth and potential to people so clearly that they come to see it of themselves.

Radhanath Swami sees the divine in everybody and connects with the divine in them in a way that makes them understand and appreciate the language of pure love of God.

Thus we see people from all walks of life—from the professors of Harvard Business School to the high profile bankers of one of the world’s largest banking corporations of the world to the village folks of rural India and the carpenters doing work in the temple in Mumbai—all feel at home with Radhanath Swami.

Radhanath Swami’s best friend is Gary who runs a fitness business. Even though their lifestyle and interests appear to be diametrically opposite, how respectful and accepting they are of each other!

One of Michael Angelo’ remarkable work of sculpture is the statue of David made from a mammoth 18-feet block of marble; This had remained untouched by other artists for decades because they felt it was not a good piece of marble. When asked how he sculpted such a great piece of art, he simply said, “David was already there in the block of marble. All I had to do was remove the unwanted chinks.”

Spirituality is the process of removing the chinks and finding our true self – our identity and our ideals and living by the ideals. A true leader helps us along the way.