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 want to remain unchanged. 🙂 As we litter the streets or throw out the empty chips packet, or as the recent advertisement shows we throw the banana peel out of a swanky car, we assume it’s the Government’s responsibility through its municipal boards to clear the streets and keep India clean. Think for a second, would you litter your own house ? Some may, but most would not atleast throw a banana peel on their floor. Then why is the street, fair game to throw out trash ?
Whatever is your reason to throw trash onto the street, the same reason is why you won’t like this particular quote – because the Master is asking you to figure out the reason and the impulse that makes you behave badly and says change that, don’t go around asking the Municipal corporation to change the number of times they sweep the street. I have an easy way to figure out when I try to externalise blame – the minute 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.
Will share an example from yesterday, we were getting ready to leave for the airport on Sunday morning and 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, this time 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 if the pain recurred. 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…. All the while knowing, 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, but really, I could have been firm, but not difficult. 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, am sure many of you have come across as I have, colleagues that 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”… These are people who will keep building a negative image of you with the team members all the while praising you to your face …. The biggest of these, especially in India are the ones who blame destiny for everything… All varieties are ways of avoiding ownership of changing yourself.
Please read Louise Hay’s book “You can heal your life” … When you can cure yourself of cancer by just thinking differently, think of how the world would be if you invested time in changing yourself so that 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 !