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Members of the tribe of managers who believe in the ‘I and Me’ approach have swollen minds and shallow hearts. They live in a virtual reality of their own, surfing atop the turbulent waves of life in a belief that they remain in total control of things. They think that they punch all the right buttons in their careers. Successes get attributed to their own actions and initiatives. Failures get attributed to external circumstances, to other people, or to the business environment in general.

In terms of an upgraded Blake-Mouton Grid, they have a propensity to evolve into a leader for whom results alone count. Concern for People gets relegated to the background. Concern for Ethics gets swept under the carpet and conveniently forgotten. In other words, they become CEOs who end up becoming road rollers.

Take the case of a young engineer from India who goes on to pursue his higher studies in one of the advanced countries of the world. He builds a career for himself, gets married, buys his own house, raises a family and even acquires the citizenship of the country where he has settled down. He starts believing that he is an all-powerful and accomplished person, and has the freedom to do what he wants. He prides himself on the fact that his spouse, an independent professional in her own right, is in that country owing to him alone. By implication, she has to be beholden and subservient to him. What he does not realize is the role destiny also has played in his career and life. A hard blow could well make him see the folly of ascribing all his achievements to his capabilities alone.

Free Will, Destiny and a dash of humility

One of the things such persons badly need is a dash of humility, professionally as well as personally. They could do with some introspection in all cases of successes and failures. A pitiless analysis of any success would invariably reveal key factors which not only assisted but also enabled them to achieve it. Likewise, a root cause analysis of a failure might reveal to them what they could have done better in the given situation. It might even show where they personally contributed to their own downfall.

A realization that one is not destined to exercise one’s so-called free will indiscriminately can help one to progress on the path of humility. In any case, the view that human beings are free to exercise their free will has always been a debatable one. Often, hapless Homo sapiens feel as if they are mere puppets going through motions in life according to a grand plan, ostensibly pre-determined by a superior power.

Take the case of an aspiring manager who has just finished her education from an Ivy League institution. She does not entirely control the kind of company she ends up starting her career with. Nor does she control the kind of boss, peers or subordinates she might end up working with. She could very well analyze the business environment the organization operates in. But she has little control over the same.

Going with the flow

Generally speaking, in life, one does not control one’s own birth or death. Nor does one control the kind of parents, extended family and friends one may merit. One merely goes with the flow, so to say.

Omar Khayyam thought one is no better than water, flowing willy-nilly, ‘where Destiny with men for Pieces plays’. He proposed that one merely follows an unalterable script in one’s life, as dished out by our Guardian Angels.

Contrast this with the traditional view of Judgment Day of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. This view is based on the conviction that each person is wholly responsible for her conduct in life. The Hindu view of karma also supposes choice for individual human beings.

To participate in, and to submit to, the collective rhythm of creation is to attain bhakti, Narada Sutra says. This marks progress towards humility.

‘The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings’, says the poet (Julius Ceaser, Act 1, Scene 2).

The ‘We and Us’ Approach to decision-making

Life is much like river rafting, where one may make choices while negotiating the rapids. But the scope of the individual will is rather limited. In one’s career, the scope of the individual will is to choose between making decisions entirely based on one’s individual ego, thereby becoming an ‘I and Me’ manager. Alternately, one may choose to surrender to a higher power, and perform one’s action without attachment to the results thereof. This choice would lead one to a ‘We and Us’ approach to decision-making.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna exhorts us to do precisely this: Practice detachment.

कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन |
मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि || 47 ||

karmaṇy-evādhikāras te mā phaleṣhu kadāchana
mā karma-phala-hetur bhūr mā te saṅ
go ’stvakarmaṇi

You have a right to perform your prescribed duties, but you are not entitled to the fruits of your actions. Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, nor be attached to inaction.

(Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2018/04/13/heartfulness-management-and-leadership)

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An innocent cow creamer filled with cream,
Brings forth into all eyes that mad gleam.

Even before the cream can thicken,
Many a soul is conscience stricken.

To pinch or not to pinch,
They feel drawn and pulled, inch by inch.

Waiting to be picked up it seems,
Sleeping or awake, it has appeared in many dreams.

Many will surely try their luck,
Not an easy task, though it appears to be a sitting duck.

So may the best man pinch her with stealth,
And ever after remain in good health.

(Permission of the author, an avid fan of P G Wodehouse, to publish this composition here is gratefully acknowledged.)

(Illustration courtesy the www)

Artists appear to love depicting human beings in all conditions, including in the buff. Perhaps they are in awe of the wonderful creation known as the human body. Understandably so.

Somehow, members of the tribe of the delicately nurtured attract much more of their attention than those who happen to be members of the so-called sterner sex. One wonders as to why the latter have so far not formed a union of some kind and registered a protest at this kind of discrimination!

Madonna (Edvard Munch)

 

 

The Sleepwalker (Gustav Vigeland)

 

At the entrance

 

Dance of Life (Edvard Munch)

 

Female Nude (Per Deberitz)

 

Female Nude (Jean Heiberg)

 

Bathers at a Forest Pond (Eric Heckel)

 

Women on the Beach (Bjarne Engebret)

 

Fishing Boats (Max Pechstein)

 

Another one at the entrance

 

One more at the entrance

 

It is praiseworthy that Norway’s rich artistic heritage is being preserved and presented so well at the National Gallery in Oslo. To soak it in, all one needs to have is some time and interest.

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/07/24/the-dance-of-life-at-the-national-gallery-of-norway

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2018/04/16/revisiting-the-national-gallery-of-norway-nature

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2018/04/28/revisiting-the-national-gallery-of-norway-humans-part-1)

 

We continue our exploration of the National Gallery of Norway in Oslo.

In the previous post, we looked at the manner in which different elements of Nature have got captured in some of the paintings on display.

In this post, and in the next one, we admire the life-like depiction of human beings and their interactions with each other. Some are mythical, some are real and some are a product of the artist’s creative genius.

Woman Suckling an Infant (Ferdinand Bol)

 

Mary Magdalene penitent (Artisia Gentileschi)

 

A rustic party (David Teniers)

 

The Three Graces listening to Cupid’s song (Bertel Thorvaldsen)

 

The Farewell (Harriet Backer)

 

The Return of the Bear Hunter (Adolph Tidemand)

 

The Thinker (Auguste Rodin)

 

La Coiffure (Edgar Degas)

 

The Dreamer (Halfdan Egedius)

 

Portrait of Gerda (Richard Bergh)

 

Albertine to See the Police Surgeon (Christian Krohg)

 

Mother and Daughter (Edvard Munch)

 

The Girls on the Bridge (Edvard Munch)

‘Nature is not only all that is visible to the eye… it also includes the inner pictures of the soul.’

This is what Munch had to say. How very insightful!

(Continued…..)

(Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2018/04/16/revisiting-the-national-gallery-of-norway-nature)

 

 

 

 

ashokbhatia

CEOs lead a challenging life. Apart from making and meeting long-term business goals, they face a relentless SQpressure, living from one quarter to the next. Customers have to be handled with kid gloves. Suppliers have to be kept in good humour. People have to be kept motivated at all times. Interpersonal conflicts between team members have to be sorted out. A lonely life has to be lived.

Unlike their juniors who invariably face Peer Pressure, CEOs face Pear Pressure. Some call it signs of prosperity. Some refer to it as a Battle of the Bulge. Others label it as flab around the waist.

The Battle of the Bulge

A CEO in possession of a portly disposition projects an image of a soul which has finally attained salvation and has become a super-hero of the species generally alluded to as managers. Walk into any gathering of the top dogs across most…

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Those exposed to the vicissitudes of a manager’s life often get unduly perturbed about the people around them, or the circumstances and formidable challenges they face in their careers.

But think of it. A manager would strongly protest if another one is made to occupy the office space assigned to her. Why, even a parking space allocation could disturb office harmony! The boss, spending a lot of time with a favourite manager of hers, could create a sense of envy amongst other managers; it could even initiate a chain of rumours and lead to animated discussions at the coffee machine.

Envy, jealousy, hatred, unbridled ambition – all of these happen to be strong undercurrents which could be detected within an outwardly quiet and serene looking manager. Given a chance, managers, like politicians and other professionals, would never cede even a square inch of their turf to someone else.

But if so, one may well ask as to how managers end up permitting others to enter their mental space and cause internal turbulence, often losing a well-earned peaceful sleep at night. They suffer at the hands of a boss or a colleague whom they have come to trust. They get swayed by external circumstances and people, losing their mental equipoise and balance in the process. This obfuscates their vision and disturbs their thinking processes. At times, such negative occurrences even chip off a part of their own self-confidence as well.

Tough bosses routinely rebuke their team members but end up affecting different people differently. Those with a lower self-esteem and a lower Inner Resilience might even contemplate taking a drastic step under external provocation, in some cases leading even to homicidal thoughts. But those who are wired differently might just take such occurrences in their stride, just shrugging off, noticing the underlying lessons and going ahead with the task at hand in a more effective manner.

Higher Inner Resilience is a stress buster

This shows the importance for a manager to have a high degree of Inner Resilience within her mental makeup. This way, she retains her sense of self-esteem. Her perception of reality remains balanced and objective. She is able to punch the right buttons and take better decisions. She owns her actions and takes responsibility for what she does. She does not gloat in a success, attributing it only to her own efforts and initiatives. Nor does she get unduly depressed when faced with failure. The tendency to blame other people or circumstances for her failures does not appeal to her. Instead, a pitiless analysis of the situation at hand gets done. A bout of introspection is attempted.

Her anxiety and stress levels are low. She is more likely to remain in the pink of health. This enables her to live her life to the hilt. An inner bliss is often experienced.

Much like a person who enters the sea for a swim, she is aware that it involves handling mighty waves. Also, that the water is not sweet. So, she is better prepared. Likewise, a manager who possesses a high degree of Inner Resilience is better prepared to handle challenges in her career, whether mighty or otherwise.

In other words, she is smarter than those around herself, better equipped to break the glass ceiling and make it to the higher echelons of an organization.

The risk of Sensitivity

Managers who are sensitive to others’ needs do not necessarily make better bosses. Emotions could cloud their judgement, thereby lowering their level of Inner Resilience. An excess of the Milk of Human Kindness sloshing about in the veins could make them lose their effectiveness as a manager. Moderation is what the doctor would recommend.

However, when Sensitivity gets deployed in tandem with Rational Thought, as drawn from the company’s objectives and policies, they end up being realistically empathic.

Another way of conveying this delicate balance is by the means of a Blake Mouton Grid, which is built upon two dimensions – Concern for People and Concern for Production. Add to this the third dimension – that of Concern for Ethics – and one gets somewhat closer to the quality which the Bhagavad Gita refers to as equipoise.

Learning from Bhagavad Gita

Lord Krishna explains this beautifully to Arjuna. In verse 38 of Chapter 2 of the Bhagavad Gita, He says:

सुखदु:खे समे कृत्वा लाभालाभौ जयाजयौ |
ततो युद्धाय युज्यस्व नैवं पापमवाप्स्यसि || 38||

sukha-dukhe same kitvā lābhālābhau jayājayau
tato yuddhāya yujyasva naiva
pāpam avāpsyasi

‘Having made pleasure and pain, gain and loss, victory and defeat the same, engage in battle for the sake of battle; thus, you shall not incur sin.’

When it comes to understanding the happenings around us, this inner equilibrium is the key facilitator. By attaining this state, a manager can shore up her Spiritual Quotient, of which Inner Resilience is a critical component.

Building up Inner Resilience

Meditative practices help. So does a realization that one is acting as per one’s own conscience and what one believes to be right. In other words, one is following one’s ‘swa-dharma’.

The ability and openness to appreciate a deemed adversary’s view point also helps.

Ignoring people with a negative persona and consciously choosing to remain in the company of some positive thinkers assists.

An attitude of ‘This too shall pass’ helps.

Above all, the wisdom gained from the harsh slings and arrows of Life supports in this endeavour. It follows that introspection helps.

 

 

 

 

 

 

An opportunity arose recently for yours truly to be able to revisit the National Gallery of Norway in Oslo. Time spent in its serene ambience, soaking in the artistic brilliance in each of its works on display, was time well spent, indeed.

This post captures some of the paintings which depict the beauty of nature in all its glory.

Oak Tree by the Elbe in Winter (Johan Christian Dahl)

 

The Labro Falls at Kongsberg (Thomas Fearnley)

 

The Grindelwaldgletscher (Thomas Fearnley)

 

Winter at the River Simoa (Frits Thaulow)

 

Storm, Evening (Eugene Jansson)

 

Street in Roros in Winter (Harald Sohlberg)

 

Flower Meadow in the North of Norway (Harald Sohlberg)

 

Summer Night (Kitty Kielland)

 

Moonlight (Edvard Munch)

 

Landscape from Holmsbu (Oluf Wold-Torne)

 

The White Horse in Spring (Nikolai Astrup)

 

In the Garden (Astri Welhaven Heiberg)

 

Each painting is unique, and captures a different mood of Mother Nature in a very effective manner.

(Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/07/24/the-dance-of-life-at-the-national-gallery-of-norway)