Leadership Lessons from the Bhagavad Gita 3 – Change

The last week was spent under the spell of medicines that helped me recover from a bad allergic cough…. today is the first time that I feel alert and completely awake :). So am back with the verse 13 from Chapter 2.

देहिनोऽस्मिन्यथा देहे कौमारं यौवनं जरा |
तथा देहान्तरप्राप्तिर्धीरस्तत्र न मुह्यति || 13||

dehino ’smin yathā dehe kaumāraṁ yauvanaṁ jarā
tathā dehāntara-prāptir dhīras tatra na muhyati

dehinaḥof the embodied; asminin this; yathāas; dehein the body; kaumāramchildhood; yauvanamyouth; jarāold age; tathāsimilarly; deha-antaraanother body; prāptiḥachieves; dhīraḥthe wise; tatrathereupon; na muhyatiare not deluded.
The link to the original website is – https://www.holy-bhagavad-gita.org/chapter/2/verse/13
The translation for this verse is – “Just as the embodied soul continuously passes from childhood to youth to old age, similarly, at the time of death, the soul passes into another body. The wise are not deluded by this.”
My interpretation is as follows –
Change is the only constant ….. however cliched one sounds. Its a reality that one has to learn to enjoy both in our personal life and at work. Organizations also have a lifecycle and the culture changes at every stage. A startup or a nascent organization is positive, warm and very inclusive. The growth phase is exciting, full of energy and everyone has a lot of opportunities. The stable or plateauing phase is like the old age for human beings – there is a wealth of knowledge, but opportunities are fewer, finding newer customers is more difficult if the market is saturated, and the culture is fully manifest. The decline starts to set-in, if the leadership is not watching.
Founders of successful organizations need to be extremely wise to understand the different phases and hire leaders that can navigate in the different phases. Most founders flounder when they need to manage a stable organization or one in decline – their mindset is that of a founder, the thrill of creating something out of nothing, or manifesting a great idea is what they are good at. Even great organizations like Infosys have struggled with the transition. In politics we have had activists trying to run governments and making a mess of it – the Chief Minister of Delhi was a great activist, but has failed miserably as an administrator.
Wise leaders are self aware and understand their strengths and always play to their strengths. All great leaders are great at change management. They constantly scan the environment to see what is changing and immediately adapt themselves or find complementary skills in other leaders and hire them. So they navigate their organizations to success even during difficult times. But there are very few truly wise leaders !
What are you? A wise leader or someone who is constantly buffeted around by the changing winds?
Reflect and quickly recoup … watch the changing environment around you and the new opportunities that come around with every change. Upskill, update and learn continuously to remain relevant.
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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