Diwali – The festival of lights! Since time immemorial, we have observed, understood, and celebrated Diwali as the most important festival in and around India. Diwali for me has always been something empowering. Beyond all the festivities and celebrations, I think Diwali is a time to reflect on life and make changes for the coming year. A time to reflect on all of the positives within our lives — our loving friends and family, our good health, and prosperity — and realize what is truly important.
Among various religious viewpoints about celebrating Diwali, the widely accepted belief states that Diwali commemorates the return of Lord Rama from his fourteen-year-long exile and vanquishing of the demon-king Ravan. I believe that Ramayana is not just a story which happened long ago; it has a philosophical, spiritual significance and a deep truth in it – each story has a deeper meaning. The age-old wisdom found in this great epic has endured the test of time and provided us with the key to success. Ramayan is divided into 7 Kandas or chapters. This Diwali let us try to decode 7 Management Kandas through Ramayan!
DECODING RAMAYAN – THE MANAGEMENT WAY
ACTION: Dashrath pledged 3 blank promises to Kaikayi
OUTCOME: Kaikayi used these boons to send Rama away in the forest for 14 years and make Bharat the King of Ayodhya.
TAKEHOME: NEVER PROMISE WHAT YOU CANNOT DELIVER
Whenever you face defeat and failure, understand that it is not something that has happened overnight. It is the consequence of many factors. Remember the Domino effect and never leave loose ends. You may have taken wrong decisions, or made a bad judgment, tried unethical means…and other such errors. What you are facing today is a result of those acts done in the past. In a corporate situation, people sometimes make commitments to partners, customers or subordinates without analyzing the consequences of those commitments. Please look at the big picture first when making any kind of commitments.
ACTION: When Sita saw the beautiful deer, not realizing that it was Maricha the demon, she demanded Rama to get it for her. Ram even though realizing that something was amiss went to chase it to please Sita.
OUTCOME: Ram reacted instead of responding and was led astray, leaving his home front unguarded. Reckless acts have dire consequences.
TAKEHOME: WHEN WORKING WITH UNKNOWN VARIABLES, DON’T TAKE RISKS WITHOUT COMPLETE DATA. TAKE TIME TO SWOT UP A SITUATION.
When working with unknown variables like new markets, new competitors etc., play to your strengths, gather information about the situation and respond. Understand your limitations and your circle of influence and act accordingly.
ACTION: Sita, upon hearing the demon call out Laxman’s name and shouting for help, forced Laxman to go in aid of Ram, even when Ram had chalked out clear instructions for all of them to follow. Laxman had to stand guard, but Sita gave new instructions based on little knowledge. Laxman’s patient counseling against it could not convince her. He had to abort the plan against his will.
OUTCOME: Ravan utilized this opportunity to abduct Sita.
TAKEHOME: ALWAYS STICK TO THE PLAN OR PIVOT? TAKE A JUDGEMENT CALL BASED ON TANGIBLE FACTS, NOT EMOTIONS.
When facing a dilemma, do not react to it. Analyse the situation with facts on hand, weigh the pros and cons and then take action. Do not revise your plan glibly. Make these decisions based on the specifics:
ACTION: Bharat was assigned the task of managing the empire while Hanuman was made in charge of the search mission. Jamvant, who was the manager for Hanuman, realized that Hanuman was not aware of his abilities and helped him to realize it.
OUTCOME: Ram had a team of monkeys who defeated Ravan’s team of professional warriors because they were empowered.
TAKEHOME: EMPOWER YOUR TEAM MEMBERS AND HELP THEM ACHIEVE THEIR POTENTIAL
If your team is empowered to make decisions and is performing to its potential – it can achieve even seemingly impossible goals. Ask for input. Ask your team to be part of the decision-making process. Ask for their ideas and insights. Reinforce with positive feedback. Develop leaders. Stretch each team member’s capabilities. Mentor your team members. Encourage open communication. Demonstrate that you trust your team members. Give them the amount of authority they need to complete the project without checking back with you in every detail.
ACTION: When Bali went into a cave to fight a demon, Sugreeva was ordered to keep a watch outside till Bali emerged. After nearly a year’ wait when neither Bali nor the demon came out, Sugreeva thought they had both been killed. He went back to their kingdom and became its ruler and made Tara, Bali’s wife, his queen. However, Bali returned and seeing Sugreeva as a king, Bali thought he had been betrayed. The cause of mortal enmity between brothers Sugreeva and Bali originated from a terrible miscommunication. The turn of events helped Rama do his bit. The lesson is to be beware of miscommunication at any stage, whether in an acquisition or in the management of talent. Ram offered refuge to Vibhishan when he was driven out of Ravan’s Kingdom.
OUTCOME: Ram forged alliances with Sugreeva, helped him defeat Bali and become the King and in return secured his help to seek Sita and fight the war with Ravan. He also secured an alliance with Vibhishan, who helped Ram by giving him the secret of killing Ravan.
TAKEHOME: UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF ALLIANCES AND DO NOT SHARE YOUR SECRETS WITH ADVISORS YOU DON’T TRUST
Forge alliances! Be it with your channel partners, similar companies, with your own team members or external people. Your network can help you to achieve your goals and manage failure. Ravan and Vibhishan had ideological clashes and when time came Vibhishan deserted Ravan and joined Ram. Analyse your network and share confidential information with restriction. Your angry outburst about your boss/company may be twisted out of context and used against you.
ACTION: Ravan was surrounded by people (except a wife and one brother) who gave him advice that he wanted to hear and not what was the need of the hour, thus misguiding him – leading him to lose the war.
OUTCOME: He lost the war.
TAKEHOME: KEEP AWAY FROM ‘YES – MEN.’
When you are in a position of power, people want to please you and will only say things that you want to hear. To ensure that you get the realistic picture, create an environment of trust and freedom where people can openly talk about issues, without fearing discrimination or harassment.
ACTION: While Ravan, who was a great scholar, was on deathbed – Ram asked Laxman to seek his blessings and learn from him. Such was the knowledge of Ravan in political science that Rama after defeating Ravan suggested Laxman to learn Politics and Duties of a King from Ravan.
OUTCOME: His story and his denouncement as the greatest evildoer show the dangers of ego. After his hard work in gaining all that knowledge, his ego was his reason for the downfall. Power not directed towards sincere humility, is a sure formula for Ravanhood.
TAKEHOME: LEARN FROM COMPETITION.
Keep your mind open and be a lifetime learner. Learn from your competition – internal or external, and use the knowledge to improve yourself. We all have a Ravan hidden in us in the form of our ego. Learn to vanquish that ego.
Wishing you all a very happy and prosperous Diwali and a great new year!
As we bid adieu to the festival of lights, this year, let us take some time out to look around, contemplate and figure out a way to clean up the space we belong to. Clean the mindset of people. Don’t go for valuations, but for value creation. Invest wisely and make data-driven decisions. Never lose faith in the fact that the Ramayan narrative will continue to play itself out — that the good and virtuous shall always triumph over the evil and spiteful, inside us and around us.
Ilesh Khakhkhar – A dynamic entrepreneur, who is a founder / chairman of Ethicare Remedies with more than 20 years of successful track record in pharmaceutical & cosmeceutical market.