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Through to excellence

Once I received a beautiful birthday gift from my team. It was a small Ganesha idol. Like most of them, this one too was also beautifully crafted.

I recall what was told to me as I took the gift, “Like Ganesha, may you master as many arts as you can.”

I was perplexed. I inquired what that meant. Lord Ganesha was a master of sixty four arts, I was informed and hence the inspiration.

With the Lord of auspicious and good beginnings due to grace us this week, my mind wanders to that conversation and the meaning it has in our lives.

You are acknowledged as a master when you achieve excellence. You do well what you do; you perform well consistently; you raise the bar; and excellence pours out of you as naturally as perspiration after a workout, without sweating. You don’t have to extract excellence out of yourself, it oozes from you as if that’s all that it can draw from you.

So, is excellence a natural by-product or is it a dish prepared with an excellent recipe from outstanding ingredients?

A difficult question to answer, and even more unappetizing to digest.

If excellence is a by-product then what is it that you are working to produce? If it is just a recipe of ingredients and procedures, then why can’t everyone program excellence into their performances?

There is truth in both.

Yes it is true that those who get it as a by-product are not chasing excellence as a product or a destination. For them excellence is a manner. It is a way. It is a discipline. They want to do things well and in that quest, excellence becomes a constant companion. They don’t take excellence along, it chooses to ride in the company of such people.

Yes, excellence can be a dish. Have you seen those who consistently dish out good performances? Check their menu.

They have nothing else on their cards except excellence. They choose well in what they pursue; who they partner with; and they plan well. They believe good roadmaps are essential to beautiful destinations. They study in depth what it takes to dish out a great performance, and then put it in to make it one.

At each stage, from the aroma they can judge whether the dish is roasting as per their book. The book that is a compilation of carefully collected choice of ingredients and how they have to be cooked together. Every opportunity to them is a mouth-watering prospect to present a great dish on the table. For them excellence is what goes in and what comes out is no surprise.

So, is there something different about these two routes? One aims to perform well, and the other to deliver a good performance.

The first method aims at internal development. You develop yourself to a point that excellence, and nothing else flows out effortlessly from you. You build a pipeline of excellence. You don’t gather, it flows.

The second is about outlook. It is the way they look at things. You see through the lenses of excellence. You see clearly what you want; what it takes; and you put that in. You don’t waver from the path, and in doing this consistently it becomes second nature to you. It becomes your standard.

So is there anything common? Yes. It is the approach. You set out to be excellent, but you don’t seek it, you master it.

You imbibe it inside you. You don’t go to shop for it each time. You get it free with the way you go about. Your dedication, perseverance and untiring effort ensure that the excellence is a by-product of your every endeavour. When you go about doing anything, your planning, attention to detail, and adhering to your constantly updated recipe book ensures that the dish is always a lip-smacking one. There is a method to the madness.

So, what would you like? To be excellent, or to put excellence in your performances.

Whichever way you take to excellence, you can’t get to it, till you go through it.

Posted in: Festival, Festivals, India, Motivational

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Transform through form

In Hindu mythology Vishnu took ten avatars on earth. Each birth had a purpose and role to fulfill, and it was the ninth avatar that left an indelible mark on mankind. Krishna.

Rarely has any person – natural or super natural ever been remembered for touching and transforming lives in so many ways as Krishna did.

Super Natural: I recollect a learned person pointing out that Krishna is the only one who is worshipped even in the child form. Krishna showed very early signs of being super natural and his feats became the talk of the town. His first mission was to get rid of his maternal uncle who was responsible for slaying seven of his siblings. Through his mischievous escapades and his childish manoeuvres to quench his insatiable love for butter, he exposed his human weakness that made him endearing to all.

Eternal Lover: To account tales of romance of Gods is virtually taboo but Krishna’s romanticism is revealed through the countless tales where he enchants the village gopis with his flute and the eternal bond of love with Radha has been an inspiration to many. Once again we witness his natural human traits which he makes no attempt to supress. He showed you can rise in love too.

Friends Forever: That he understood the meaning of friendship and didn’t let time or wealth dilute it over the passage of time is revealed in the Sudama episode. Rushing to welcome him personally on learning of his arrival, guessing his discomfort of revealing the real reason behind his visit, he quietly makes sure his friend’s visit is fruitful. True friends understand even when their friend hasn’t spoken and their actions are remembered, not words.

Statesman and Strategist: Through his life Krishna showed his prowess as a master strategist as he plotted his moves and moved the pieces to his advantage. Never using force or authority he cajoled people to do what would get him to the results he wanted. One instance was asking Duryodhan whether it would be appropriate to wear a loin cloth rather than go fully nude in front of his mother ensured the vulnerability that he was looking for. You can win people over without getting under.

Right Side: If you decide that you will be on the right side there’s nothing left to ponder about. Krishna always chose to be on the right side of truth irrespective of his relations and affiliations. Though he was equally related to the Kauravas he chose to side with the Pandavas because he believed they were right. His brother Balrama was inclined to be with the opposition but he tactfully kept him disengaged during the war. Backing your convictions and beliefs will always keep you on the right side, rather than taking sides.

Protector: While Krishna slayed many demons and cleansed the world of people with evil designs he is remembered to come to the rescue in times of absolute need. Answering the prayers of Draupadi he saved her when she was being humiliated by being disrobed publicly. When Krishna’s antidote to Ashwathama’s brahmshastra posed a challenge to the child in the womb of Uttara, he protected his life. He taught us to be rock solid behind people who we care for.

While there are countless reasons to remember Krishna, there are three that top my mind.

At the break of war two cousins approached him for his help. To them he offered two options – they could either choose his army, weaponry and resources, or him. And as they say, the rest is history. That a single individual can indeed make such a huge difference and impact the outcome is unparalleled in the annals of history. Each human being has an unlimited potential packed at time of manufacture. After it leaves the factory, it is up to the user to make the best of it.

Whenever I see the pyramids of people celebrating Dahi Handi on his birthday, I am overwhelmed by the simplicity with which it teaches people, teamwork. Aiming higher is always on everyone’s mind but only with the right talent; in the right formation and working together can you achieve it. Did Krishna anticipate this practice would live for so many years? With his envious record of anticipation, it is difficult to rule it out. Having a common purpose is the key rather than working at cross purposes.

If mankind has to live by the leaves of a single book, they have not to look beyond the Bhagwad Gita. It is a book that doesn’t teach business or personal life but offers lessons on life. Every page in the book is a condensed lesson which a single life cannot comprehend. And this humble preaching to Arjun has become the bedrock of motivation and guidance for humans to lead their lives.

The beauty of Krishna’s life was that despite being super human he lived his life humanly. His various forms touched people and transformed them. Each one loved a different Krishna. To some he was the prankster in his childhood and to some the lover.  To friends he was a saviour in need, and someone to count on, in a crisis. To the world he showed the path, guided people, and motivated them to move their chariot of life. Through his various forms he transformed lives.

Posted in: Festival, Festivals, India

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