Corporate musings

Leadership Lessons from the Bhagavad Gita 12 – The New


I remember using this verse (verse 22 from chapter 2) during a Bhagvad Gita recitation competition that I participated in at the Ramakrishna Mission in Shillong.

वासांसि जीर्णानि यथा विहाय
नवानि गृह्णाति नरोऽपराणि |
तथा शरीराणि विहाय जीर्णा
न्यन्यानि संयाति नवानि देही || 22||

vāsānsi jīrṇāni yathā vihāya
navāni gṛihṇāti naro ’parāṇi
tathā śharīrāṇi vihāya jīrṇānya
nyāni sanyāti navāni dehī

vāsānsigarments; jīrṇāniworn-out; yathāas; vihāyasheds; navāninew; gṛihṇātiaccepts; naraḥa person; aparāṇiothers; tathālikewise; śharīrāṇibodies; vihāyacasting off; jirṇāniworn-out; anyāniother; sanyātienters; navāninew; dehīthe embodied soul
The translation is : As a person sheds worn-out garments and wears new ones, likewise, at the time of death, the soul casts off its worn-out body and enters a new one.

The link to the page – https://www.holy-bhagavad-gita.org/chapter/2/verse/22

My interpretation is as follows –

We must make way for the new always !! Especially the leadership in the corporate world. Once a person reaches senior levels in an organization, the expectation is that the person knows a lot more than a young executive. While that may be right w.r.t the policies of the organization and the way the organization functions, it is certainly not true when it comes to problem solving or making changes.

A young executive has a fresh pair of eyes that provide fresh perspectives. A young executive has no baggage and will find a very different way of solving a problem. “Reverse mentoring” is a nascent practice that hopefully will become more mainstream. Reverse mentoring is when a young executive is partnered with a senior leader or a CEO as a mentor. It helps the senior executive stay in touch with the new learnings and also helps them get some fresh perspective. If its done right, reverse mentoring is hugely beneficial.

Krishnan and I get along easily with the youth – we find them refreshingly different and a lot cooler than people of our age group. We also get to learn a lot when we spend time with young folks. When our friends’ children come over, Krishnan and I spend a lot of time asking them questions and trying to see the world through their eyes. Its fascinating to see how most of them are agnostic about religion, sexual preferences and view women as equals. Most of them are truly egalitarian and socially conscious young men and women. They understand that news is often manufactured and social media spews out a lot of misinformation. The way they handle money maybe an area of concern, but hey, who knows, maybe they are right and we are wrong !!

Watch nature, the old leaves dry up and fall off, making way for the new fresh leaves… so keep making way for the new. Keep casting off old thoughts, old prejudices and old limits, making way for new thoughts, new perspectives and a new you.

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