Leadership Lessons from the Bhagavad Gita 15 – Perspectives

Chapter 2 Verse 29

आश्चर्यवत्पश्यति कश्चिदेन माश्चर्यवद्वदति तथैव चान्य: |
आश्चर्यवच्चैनमन्य: शृ्णोति श्रुत्वाप्येनं वेद न चैव कश्चित् || 29||

āśhcharya-vat paśhyati kaśhchid enan
āśhcharya-vad vadati tathaiva chānyaḥ
āśhcharya-vach chainam anyaḥ śhṛiṇoti
śhrutvāpyenaṁ veda na chaiva kaśhchit

āśhcharya-vatas amazing; paśhyatisee; kaśhchitsomeone; enamthis soul; āśhcharya-vatas amazing; vadatispeak of; tathāthus; evaindeed; chaand; anyaḥother; āśhcharya-vatsimilarly amazing; chaalso; enamthis soul; anyaḥothers; śhṛiṇotihear; śhrutvāhaving heard; apieven; enamthis soul; vedaunderstand; nanot; chaand; evaeven; kaśhchitsome
Translation – Some see the soul as amazing, some describe it as amazing, and some hear of the soul as amazing, while others, even on hearing, cannot understand it at all.
My interpretation – Lord Krishna continues to explain how the soul is viewed by different people and its like the blindfolded men trying to understand an Elephant by touching just one part of it. But, the important thing to remember is, we are all blindfolded – we view the world and the happenings through the prism of our experience, prejudices and assumptions.
An exercise called “Perspective Taking” is extremely useful in opening the blindfold because as part of the exercise, you actually try and explain an opposite point of view and provide reasons as to why that view is workable. For instance if your view is that a particular sales call must be done in the morning, while your colleague feels it must be done in the afternoon, then you and your colleague are asked to provide the logic behind your arguments. Then you switch sides and you support the sales call in the afternoon and your colleague supports the sales call to happen in the morning. It opens your perspective and empathy is taken to a whole new level because here you are not just walking in the other’s shoes, but actually providing reasons as to why those shoes are the best for you !!
Try the exercise with your teams and see the light bulbs going off.. its quite amazing.
Another way of expanding our perspectives is to listen to all views on a given topic. An interesting incident happened early on during our ShikshaDaan Yatra. We were in Himachal Pradesh, going from one district to the other. At Una, we had contacted a couple of NGOs and were trying to meet them in person. One of them met us, while the other never returned our calls. Finally we moved to Hamirpur and just as we were entering the hotel, this person who was ignoring all our calls, called us. We were stumped by what he told us – he didn’t want to meet us because we had mentioned in our email that we were from Delhi and just six months back another couple from Delhi had met him and told him that they could get him funds from the Government for his NGO, but for that he had to register with them by paying Rs. 10,000/-. He even wrote out the cheque, but his secretary cautioned him to check the credentials of this couple before paying. When he enquired, he found out that they were cheats who just collected money like this and vanished :):). No wonder he didn’t want to meet us because he thought we were also the similar kind. Our perspective changed forever ! We thought he had something to hide and he thought we were cheats ….. Am sure both of us benefited from this interaction with an expanded perspective.
Perspectives matter and continually push the boundaries on them, you discover many new things and many dearly held views lose their shine.

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