The Subtle Art of Being Enlightened Soul, and Mindful Manager

A few days ago I blogged about my visit to Ramana Sir, the book I gifted him and a couple of questions I posed and requested him to respond. You can read that post here.

I just noticed that he read the book in 10 days flat and posted review of the book and also answered my queries and added more! I strongly recommend you to read his review here.

I bought that book a couple of months ago and I am still only halfway through. Ramana Sir finished the book in less than 10 days! I envy him and yearn for that kind of dedication and focus.

What I appreciated more was that he read and posted the review on 13th Sep; since then we must have exchanged many messages on WhatsApp, but he didn’t allude to his post about my questions or suggest that I read it. I think he is well past that phase of seeking attention or nudging someone into reading his blog (or most likely he was never that kind of person). But yes, I did read it, not once but 2-3 times. As always, his writing is very profound; he manages to say a lot in very few words, and for person like me (who does not claim English to be his first language), it takes time to assimilate it all.

In that sense Ramana Sir is an enlightened soul, he is at peace with himself and with others around him (including obnoxious person like me!). I know 3 other such personalities and I see a lot of commonalities in the way they conduct themselves and the effect they have on me.

Ramana Sir has stressed on Commitment and called it “the single most important value to take away from the book”. And it reminded me of my MBA Professor in the UK, Dr. Peter Lenney.

Prof. Lenney is now the Director of Full-time MBA, the course I attended 10 years ago (2007-08). Back then he was not director but he taught us a course titled “Mindful Manager” which is now a flagship course of the program. I think it was the first year when he offered that course and it left a deep impact on me – in fact the impact grew as I graduated and spent years in the Corporate slavery and personal life.

Prof. Lenney is a practising Buddhist and had woven many elements of Buddhism in the Mindful Manager course. The reason I remember him was the significance he attached to commitment (referring to Ramana Sir’s key takeaway).

He had said (in essence, not verbatim):

Life is about shaping and sustaining commitments. Everyday you shape new commitments and you sustain or serve the commitments made earlier (the day before, or the month or the year before). I would distinguish them as commitments with BIG C (as in “Commitments”) and commitments with small case “c” (as in “commitments”).

Commitments with “C” are explicit, large, major commitments you make to people, relatives, family or to yourself. They are more like contracts or promises. They are tangible. For example, you may have committed to take your wife out on vacation, or dinner; or you may have committed to meet someone over the weekend, or agreed to get some job done by a certain date.

Commitments with “c” are subtle, invisible or intangible and  mostly implicit/unsaid. They are more like expectations, or duties; and mostly emerge as consequence of commitments with BIG C. For example, if you have agreed to meet someone on weekend, reaching the meeting venue on time (or in my case, at least 5 minutes ahead of time) is a small case “commitment”. Most of our daily engagements with family and near and dear ones are a series of such small commitments. We never give importance to such commitments. For example, you would not bother to apologise if  you were late for a meeting by 10 minutes. Or if you knowingly missed some deadline and didn’t bother to inform the other stakeholders.

Mindful Managers give significant importance to these small case “commitments” because those are the building blocks of “Commitments”.

It struck a chord with me because I am finicky about small case “commitments”. In my laborious process of arranged marriage, when I met 100+ girls over a period of 6 years (and believe me, it is no fun!), I rejected several girls because they didn’t show that respect towards commitment with small case “c”. They would regularly come late when we met at a coffee shop, and would not even bother to acknowledge, let alone apologise.

May be I was wrong to judge them by that one experience (many would have some genuine reason for being late), but I did judge and then suspended the verdict for the rest of the meeting.

In fact I found it funny how people (specifically in India) perceive the following two messages differently

  • “Let’s meet at 5:00 PM” vs
  • “Let’s meet at 4:57 PM”

For me, both messages are exactly the same – at XX:YY hrs means NO LATER THAN XX:YY hrs.

However the girls didn’t see it that way. For them the meaning of first message was “at around 5 PM” or as it turned out in most cases, “Some time AFTER 5”. When I told girls that we would meet at 4:57 PM, few would say “Wow! You are very particular about time!” and few would laugh as if it was a joke. It wasn’t. I would have said “5:00 PM” if they had understood it that way. Since they didn’t I had to say “4:57 PM” to make my point.

By the way, here is a funny incident about one such meeting. Exactly one girl (out of the 100+ I met) came on time. We were supposed to meet at 5 (and for a change, I had said 5 PM) and the girl arrived at 5. I was extremely delighted! However, my feeling was short-lived. As she settled in her chair, she apologised for “being so late”. Actually she had thought we were going to meet at 4:30 PM…and thus showed up at 5 😦

She then checked her phone and gave more perplexed look. Maybe she was supposed to meet another guy at 4:30 which she totally missed. Anyways…I had already judged her.

Well, a long digression from the small point on “commitment with small c”. But I really feel strongly about such small things. My uncle and aunt had come to meet me at IIM-A where I was staying in a single room accommodation (for bachelors). My room was neat and tidy. I opened cupboard for something and my aunt said to uncle: “Look how neat his cupboard is inside. You just stash clothes inside and barely manage to close the door. Things look nice from outside…only until someone opens the cupboard door…and then a pile of clothes would fall down”. I didn’t realise until that point that it was something worth noticing. But it was. It seems lot of people manage exteriors, outer, visible things – the facade.

Another example I remember from my UK MBA is about Mind Map. Some faculty was teaching us about power of mind maps and how to leverage notes scattered across a page to weave into mind map. So she gave us some theme and asked us to scribble various thought on a piece of paper. She then went to each student and checked everybody’s paper and helped create a map. When she saw my paper she said “You are not doing it properly“, because my thoughts were written in structured manner and not randomly. I said: “But that is how I write“. I write neat and clean and I leave enough places in between so as to provide for something to be added later. She said “You are not spontaneous. And this obsession with being clean and tiny is hampering your creativity“. Well, little did she know that I had no creativity begin with 🙂 But I was fascinated by her notion that just because I had a habit of writing things neat and clean, and since I was well-organised, I was not creative, or I had not understood how messy “mind maps” worked.

Anyways, going back to where I began, I am really thankful to Ramana Sir for a wonderful review, and also liked the great comments on his post. All his readers seem to be in his league so I am really not capable of posting a comment on his blog and reveal my nativity and lack of maturity. I am happy to be an Eklavya and silently follow and learn from the Master!

 

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