All of us are transforming by the minute and transformation is the fundamental principle of life and nature. Seasons change, people change – some for the good and some for not the right reasons, but everyone undergoes transformation. This is a very powerful quote from Swami Vivekananda. We want others to change, while we remain the same. That ain’t gonna work !
Transformation is for others !
This is one of Swami Vivekananda’s quotes that’s so easy not to follow, because he says it’s better to wear slippers than carpet the whole Earth !!
It goes completely against what we like to do – change others while we remain unchanged. As we litter the streets or throw out the empty chips packet, we assume it’s the Government’s responsibility to keep India clean. #SwachhBharat is Mr. Modi’s project, so he should clean the streets :). Think for a second, would you litter your own house ? Some may, but most would not throw a banana peel or peanut shells on their floor. Then why throw trash on the street ?
Whatever is your reason to throw trash onto the street, the same reason is why you won’t like this particular quote. The Master is asking you to figure out the reason and the impulse that makes you behave badly and asking you to change that. Essentially, do not go around asking the Municipal corporation to change the number of times they sweep the street, but stop throwing trash onto the street.
I have an easy way to figure out when I try to externalise blame. When I take another colleague’s name or a department’s name or a friend’s name saying “he, she, they do this and it has to change” I know I have to change something.
A personal example. On Jan 12, 2014 we were getting ready to leave for the airport. Krishnan was doing his prescribed exercises for the back. He suddenly had huge pain in his left leg and while we knew it was due to sciatica, the pain was just unbearable. So we got to a hospital and they brought the pain under control in a few hours.
We stayed overnight since we didn’t want to take a chance should the pain recur. It didn’t and we got ready to leave the hospital. The discharge process took inordinately long and I finally lost my cool at the whole process. At the back of my mind I was aware that, in all my feedback about how the process can be better, there was a big feedback for me too. I just needed to chill and relax. Yes, I was upset that Krishnan was in pain, and Nisha was waiting to drop us home and get back to her place. Did I have to be difficult or could I have just been firm?. I have been sensible many times before and I am sure I will behave better many times in the future but I am also constantly trying to carpet the whole world instead of wearing slippers :).
In the corporate context, we all have colleagues who blame everybody and anybody. Some do it covertly, some overtly and some just don’t know they are doing it. These are people who will send out a long email blaming a team member or a manager in their team as soon as you send an email asking why something went wrong. These are people who will try and avoid confronting a colleague who is performing badly but will keep saying “this person is a challenge to work with”… They will keep building a negative image of you with the team members all the while praising you to your face. Then we have the India special, ones who blame destiny for everything.
All these are are ways of avoiding ownership of changing oneself.
Please read Louise Hay’s book “You can heal your life”. When she could cure herself of cancer by just thinking differently, think of how the world would be if you invested time in changing yourself. The world changes accordingly.
Don’t believe me if you don’t want to, but Buddha says “With our thoughts we make the world”, and he knows.
So transform yourself, get a pair of slippers and stop complaining that the world isn’t carpeted !