Leadership Lessons from the Bhagavad Gita 5 – Poise

Chapter 2 Verse 15

The word “Poise” means balance, equilibrium, grace or control. In today’s world, these words are only used during a dance performance, never for interpersonal interactions.

The 15th verse from chapter 2 according to me speaks about poise in everyday life. Being graceful, in control and poised is actually liberating.

यं हि न व्यथयन्त्येते पुरुषं पुरुषर्षभ |
समदु:खसुखं धीरं सोऽमृतत्वाय कल्पते || 15||

yaṁ hi na vyathayantyete puruṣhaṁ puruṣharṣhabha
sama-duḥkha-sukhaṁ dhīraṁ so ’mṛitatvāya kalpate

yamwhom; hiverily; nanot; vyathayantidistressed; etethese; puruṣhamperson; puruṣha-ṛiṣhabhathe noblest amongst men, Arjun; samaequipoised; duḥkhadistress; sukhamhappiness; dhīramsteady; saḥthat person; amṛitatvāyafor liberation; kalpatebecomes eligible
The translation is as follows – O Arjuna, noblest amongst men, that person who is not affected by happiness and distress, and remains steady in both, becomes eligible for liberation.
My interpretation is as follows – the corporate world is full of stories of bosses with nasty tempers and its almost a badge of honour if your team is scared of you. I must confess I have a short temper, but I have always informed my teams that they can ignore my short temper safely. It has no impact on how I view them. I have also shared the triggers for that temper, so it was easy to deal with me. I have never been nasty, even when I have been really angry. But, I still wish, I can be in control and behave more gracefully at all times.
There are several incidents where political leaders have lost their cool and behaved like a lout – yelling and pushing and slapping people …. and then you have corporate leaders having temper tantrums. Infact there is a Fortune magazine article on this http://fortune.com/2013/11/22/the-temper-tantrum-the-key-to-smart-management/. The most famous of all the corporate honchos for his temper tirades and rage attacks is Steve Jobs. This article is trying hard to find some benefit that comes out of these tirades …. actually the downside is worse. Would Steve Jobs have been any lesser an achiever if he didn’t have these rage attacks? I think he would have achieved a lot more and would have been even more admired than he is now. He and others who have these temper episodes probably lose very creative and sensitive people who could have contributed significantly.
Actually everyone forgives an occasional burst of anger, a sexual molestation case cannot be dealt with love, the executive or individual indulging in such activities will have to be dealt with strongly. Or a case of certain team members who aren’t pulling their weight needs a dose of anger that makes them pull their socks up and start contributing.
Uncontrolled rage is unacceptable. Some people know the art of being graceful even when they are angry or want to hurt the other person. Like Louis Nizer said “A graceful taunt is worth a thousand INSULTS.”
Learn to be graceful and poised at all times – its liberating. Use anger as a weapon but with complete control. Aping a successful leader and throwing temper tantrums won’t do the trick either.
Choose poise, every time. Look at Krishna, completely chilled out in the middle of a battlefield even when his star warrior refuses to fight :):).
References – Bhagavad Gita as it is, ISKCON’s book; Bhagavad Gita by Gita Press, Gorakhpur, 1959 edition, my father’s copy.

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