Bhagavad Gita and Management

September 12, 2011

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Utilization of available resources

The first lesson of management science is to choose wisely and utilize scarce resources optimally. During the curtain raiser before the Mahabharata War, Duryodhana chose Sri Krishna’s large army for his help while Arjuna selected Sri Krishna’s wisdom for his support. This episode gives us a clue as to the nature of the effective manager – the former chose numbers, the latter, wisdom.

Work commitment

A popular verse of the Gita advises “detachment” from the fruits or results of actions performed in the course of one’s duty. Being dedicated work has to mean “working for the sake of work, generating excellence for its own sake.” If we are always calculating the date of promotion or the rate of commission before putting in our efforts, then such work is not detached. It is not “generating excellence for its own sake” but working only for the extrinsic reward that may (or may not) result.
Working only with an eye to the anticipated benefits, means that the quality of performance of the current job or duty suffers – through mental agitation of anxiety for the future. In fact, the way the world works means that events do not always respond positively to our calculations and hence expected fruits may not always be forthcoming.
So, the Gita tells us not to mortgage present commitment to an uncertain future.
Some people might argue that not seeking the business result of work and actions makes one unaccountable. In fact, the Bhagavad-Gita is full of advice on the theory of cause and effect, making the doer responsible for the  consequences of his deeds. While advising detachment from the avarice of selfish gains in discharging one’s accepted duty, the Gita does not absolve anybody of the consequences arising from discharge of his or her responsibilities. Attachment to perishable gives birth to fear, anger, greed, desire, feeling of “mine” and many other negative qualities.  Renounce attachment by regarding objects for others and for serving others.  Depend only on God (not body, nor intellect), and the dependency on the world will end.  Renouncing attachment is the penance of knowledge, which leads to His Being – Truth, Consciousness and Bliss. ( Bhagavad-Gita 4.10)
Thus the best means of effective performance management is the work itself. Attaining this state of mind (called “nishkama karma “) is the right attitude to work because it prevents the ego, the mind, from dissipation of attention through speculation on future gains or losses.

Motivation – self and self-transcendence

It has been presumed for many years that satisfying lower order needs of workers – adequate food, clothing and shelter, etc. are key factors in motivation. However, it is a common experience that the dissatisfaction of the clerk and of the Director is identical – only their scales and composition vary. It should be true that once the lower-order needs are more than satisfied, the Director should have little problem in optimizing his contribution to the  organization and society. But more often than not, it does not happen like that. (” The eagle soars high but keeps its eyes firmly fixed on the dead animal below.”) On the contrary, a lowly paid schoolteacher, or a self-employed artisan, may well demonstrate higher levels of self-actualization despite poorer satisfaction of their lower-order needs. The Chief should motivate all the employees by tapping into their pride. Get them involved in planning on what needs to be done.
Employees support what they help build. Just doing tasks will mean very little to them. But if they are connected to the big picture and understand its importance, their work now has purpose. Including them in appropriate decision-making provides a high level of ownership.
Seeing how their work impacts the overall success of the company fuels their internal motivation to do their best. Treat them as customer for your business. Just as you want your customers to buy your products, you want your employees to buy into your instructions and performance expectations. Just like your customers, your employees are motivated by need satisfaction and will respond to your demonstration of respect, appreciation, compliments and interest in them. It’s not just money that motivates. We all work smarter and harder when we are appreciated.

Motivational Factors

Over the years, there have been many studies examining staff motivation and here are just a few examples of what employees feel are their motivational needs or factors:

  • The working environment – poor or inadequate equipment or work facilities
  • Working Conditions – too hot, too cold, no breaks, long hours
  • Social Interaction – isolation, socialization discouraged etc
  • Job Security – redundancies, feeling not part of company etc
  • Skill or intellectual use -inability or discouragement to use intellect or skills
  • Promotional prospects and job title – lack of promotion, others promoted but not them
  • Responsibility – not allowed to work off own initiative
  • Recognition and appreciation – lack of praise or recognition for achievement
  • Trust and respect – treated as a machine
  • Participation in decision making – not allowed to get involved with company
  • A sense of belonging
  • Salary – pay poor for job they are doing
  • Management issues – conflicts with management, etc

This situation is explained by the theory of self-transcendence propounded in the Gita. Self-transcendence involves renouncing egoism, putting others before oneself, emphasizing team work, dignity, co-operation, harmony and trust – and, indeed potentially sacrificing lower needs for higher goals, the opposite of Maslow. “Work must be done with detachment.” It is the ego that spoils work and the ego is the centrepiece of most theories of motivation. We need not merely a theory of motivation but a theory of inspiration.
The Great Indian poet, Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941, known as “Gurudev”) says working for love is freedom in action. A concept which is described as “disinterested work” in the Gita where Sri Krishna says, “He who shares the wealth generated only after serving the people, through work done as a sacrifice for them, is freed from all sins. On the contrary those who earn wealth only for themselves, eat sins that lead to frustration and failure.”
Disinterested work finds expression in devotion, surrender and equipoise. The former two are psychological while the third is determination to keep the mind free of the dualistic (usually taken to mean “materialistic”) pulls of daily experiences. Detached involvement in work is the key to mental equanimity or the state of ” nirdwanda.”
This attitude leads to a stage where the worker begins to feel the presence of the Supreme Intelligence guiding the embodied individual intelligence. Such de-personified intelligence is best suited for those who sincerely believe in the supremacy of organizational goals as compared to narrow personal success and achievement.
Indian theorists, of course, have a wide range of backgrounds and philosophies. But many of the most influential acknowledge that common themes pervade their work. One is the conviction that executives should be motivated by a broader purpose than money. Another is the belief that companies should take a more holistic approach to business.   The seemingly ethereal world view that’s reflected in Indian philosophy is surprisingly well attuned to the down-to-earth needs of companies trying to survive in an increasingly global, interconnected business ecosystem.
While corporations used to do most of their manufacturing, product development, and administrative work in-house, the emphasis is now on using outsiders. Terms such as “extended enterprises” (companies that outsource many functions), “innovation networks” (collaborative research and development programs), and “co-creation” (designing goods and services with input from consumers) are the rage.
In our day to day life, whether you are working for an organization or are doing your own business or are responsible for your household work, the most common thing many times is that you get depressed while doing your work. Depressed employees in any organization are a common sight. Dejected employees, depressed employees, unmotivated employees, desolate employees, morose looking employees are very harmful to any organization as they not only decrease the productivity but they also create an atmosphere in which other colleagues may also feel de-motivated & dejected. Similarly if you run your own business & remain depressed while doing your  work, certainly you shall not achieve that much in your business if you would have been highly motivated & energetic.

Now, De-motivation, Depression, Dejection, Desolation all these D-words relates to your mind or relate to your mental position. It’s only your MIND that gets depressed, dejected. You may be physically fit with blood oozing in your nerves, but if you are not well with your MIND then you are certainly not going to perform to your full potential. Mental health is where the key to success lies. If you are mentally supercharged then you can achieve any milestone in spite of having any physical inadequacy.

Now, how to get out of this depression, de-motivation & how to increase the productivity at work is where the great teachings of “Bhagwat Gita” come into play, now for those who do not know about “Bhagwat Gita”.

“Bhagwat Gita” is an ancient religious book of the “Hindus” & in this book are great philosophies of Hinduism. These philosophies teach you all about, how you should do your duty, how you should lead your life etc. This “Bhagwat Gita” teachings were given by “Lord Sri Krishna”, God Himself, to his disciple “Arjuna” on the battle field of Kurukshetra in Haryana state of India in ancient times. “Arjuna” was involved in a war against his enemies (some of them his own relatives too) but he refused to do his duty of fighting a righteous battle as he got infatuated & started thinking of his enemies as his own near & dear ones. He told his master “Lord Sri Krishna” that he is going away from the war & do not want to fight on the battle field. Arjuna’s mental health became weak & he got deeply depressed. To overcome his disciple Arjuna’s depression & to motivate him to fight a righteous war, “Lord Sri Krishna” gave the great teachings of “Bhagwat Gita” to his disciple “Arjuna”. After listening to all these great teachings, Arjuna’s mental health became well & he became motivated & energetic to fight the war.

Now many of us & many of our employees in our organization find themselves in the same state of mind, as that of “Arjuna”. Their de-motivated, depressed state of mind can be changed to motivated & energetic one by these teachings of “Bhagwat Gita”. Through these teachings, mental equilibrium of any depressed person can be overcome & he can come out of any crisis situation. The teachings of “Bhagwat Gita” can simply transform a person.

Now Bhagwat Gita teaches about “Mind Control”. Mind is that makes the personality of a person. De-motivated mind makes a person depressed one & a motivated one makes a person cheerful. If one’s mind is in one’s control & he/she can concentrate deeply on one’s work, then that person can do wonders at work. Mind is very powerful one & to control it, to keep it in one’s control is very difficult. It just wanders like wind here & there & it takes enough of self discipline & practice of meditation to control it, to get it concentrated on any job or activity. As per “Arjuna” to “Lord Sri Krishna” in Chapter Six verse 34:

“chanchalam hi manah krishna
pramathi balavad drdham
tasyaham nigraham manye
vayor iva su-duskaram”
(Bhagwat Gita: Chapter Six verse 34)

“Arjuna said: For the mind is restless, turbulent, obstinate and very
strong, O Krishna, and to subdue it, to control it, I think, is more
difficult than controlling the wind.”

“sri-bhagavan uvacha
asamsayam maha-baho
mano durnigraham chalam
abhyasena tu kaunteya
vairagyena cha grhyate”
(Bhagwat Gita: Chapter Six verse 35)

“Lord Sri Krishna said: O mighty-armed Arjuna, it is undoubtedly that
mind is very difficult to curb & is restless, but it is possible by
suitable practices of meditation and by detachment.”

“asamyatatmana yogo
dusprapa iti me matih
vasyatmana tu yatata
sakyo ’vaptum upayatah”
(Bhagwat Gita: Chapter Six verse 36)

“Lord Sri Krishna said: For one whose mind is unbridled, uncontrolled,
self-realization is a difficult work. But he whose mind is controlled
and who strives by appropriate means is assured of success. That is My
opinion.”

So in the Bhagwat Gita, “Lord Sri Krishna” first of all asks one to do his DUTY. If a person does his/her duty then half of the problems of that person are solved. Not doing one’s duty is very harmful as it produces negative results only in one’s life, like frustration, depression, de-motivation etc. If one does at least his/her duty, then such negative factors affect that person to a lesser degree or do not affect at all. As per “Lord Sri Krishna”, doing one’s  prescribed duties, even though faultily is better to have a better Mental Health.

“sreyan sva-dharmo vigunah
para-dharmat sv-anusthitat
sva-dharme nidhanam sreyah
para-dharmo bhayavahah”
(Bhagwat Gita: Chapter Three verse 35)

“Lord Sri Krishna said: It is far better to discharge one’s prescribed
duties, even though faultily, than another’s duties perfectly.
Destruction in the course of performing one’s own duty is better than
engaging in another’s duties, for to follow another’s path is
dangerous.”

The repeated teachings of The Lord to motivate Arjuna is peculiar method in Gita. This mode of instruction to the mind is not only extremely charming but is also most efficacious. So the setting of the Gita has a glory and greatness of its own.

Another teaching of “Bhagwat Gita” is to do one’s work for the sake of work only without caring for the fruit arising out of that work. That simply means to get deeply involved in one’s work or to just think single minded about performing the best in one’s job without thinking about the results arising out of those actions performed while doing one’s work or duty. Just concentrate on your work, that’s it. Below verse of “Bhagwat Gita” explains this.

“karmany evadhikaras te
ma phalesu kadachana
ma karma-phala-hetur bhur
ma te sango ’stv akarmani”
(Bhagwat Gita: Chapter Two verse 47)

“Lord Sri Krishna said: You have a right to perform your prescribed
duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action. Never consider
yourself the cause of the results of your activities, and never be
attached to not doing your duty.”

Another below verse of “Bhagwat Gita” explains that one should do one’s duty equi-poised or to have the equanimity of mind, without caring & renouncing all attachment to success or failure. If one does one’s duty efficiently & with single minded devotion, without any fear of success or failure in his/her Endeavour, then certainly that person shall succeed in his/her work, as he/she is doing that work without any fear of success or failure. His/her mind shall be at peace & ease while doing such work without any fear of success or failure. Anyperson whose mind is at peace, certainly works effectively.

“yoga-sthah kuru karmani
sangam tyaktva dhananjaya
siddhy-asiddhyoh samo bhutva
samatvam yoga ucyate”
(Bhagwat Gita: Chapter Two verse 48)

“Lord Sri Krishna said: Perform your duty equi-poised, O Arjuna,
abandoning all attachment to success or failure. Such equanimity is
called yoga.”

So if a person is dedicated to his work & works for the sake of work only without any fear of success or failure, then that person is going to be certainly successful in his/her carrier. By doing meditation & other yoga techniques, one can control one’s mind & a disciplined mind can be made to concentrate on one’s job better, producing better results. So by following the teachings of “Bhagwat Gita” one is certainly going to excel in his/her job & in life.

NOTE: This is a multi-page article.
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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

pikvt July 1, 2013 at 3:23 pm

Howdy would you mind stating which blog platform you’re using? I’m going to start my own blog in the near future but I’m having a difficult time making a decision between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your design seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something completely unique. P.S My apologies for getting off-topic but I had to ask!

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JASON APOYAN November 13, 2011 at 4:27 am

Exceptional performance ONCORE

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Rathnashikamani October 14, 2011 at 10:23 am

Exemplary presentation on the spiritual knowledge of Bhagavat Gita.

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SANJAY P. GUNGE September 24, 2011 at 11:23 am

excellent and actual knowledge of life and after death libration.

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