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Another lesson from Chamanlalji…

September 5, 2010

Chamanlalji lives a very disciplined life. He is a stickler to time and he is very meticulous in everything that he does. At SVYM, he is principally overseeing the entire Monitoring and Evaluation process and working to bring in the much-needed discipline, rigor, accountability and transparency in all our programs. One day, early in the morning as I was reaching my office, I was informed that he was looking for me and wanted to speak to me. I felt that it was appropriate that I met him immediately and started to look around and figured that he would be having his breakfast in the canteen at that time. I went to the canteen and sat with him and after the usual exchange of greetings asked him what he wanted to speak to me about. In his usual candid way, Chamanlalji told me sternly that he gave his 100% to whatever he did in life and that what he wanted to speak to me was important and he would do so only in my office. He politely told me that he was enjoying his breakfast and wanted to give his 100% to his breakfast and invited me to share a coffee with him. I returned to my office a little confused.

Later on when he met me, he explained that one of the ills that society in general and SVYM in particular was facing was that we never gave our 100% to whatever we did. He said that what he wanted to speak to me was the state of a project not doing so well and that it was important to get both his and my 100% attention. He said that by talking about it over breakfast, he felt that both his food and the issue on hand would only get his partial attention. He said both were important events, meriting his fullest attention. Little did I realize that there was so much truth in what he said. The contingency of the moments and the pressures of everyday operations usually result in each of us doing so many different things at the same time. We end up not paying full attention to the critical details and hence, the quality of our work suffers. Swami Vivekananda had mentioned that what separates great actions from ordinary ones are the eyes for the smallest details. He stressed on the fact that the means were as important as the end.

Buddha urges us to be constantly aware and mindful of all our actions all the time, and to live in the present and neither brood about the past nor worry about the uncertainties of the future. Isn’t giving our 100% to everything that we do at each moment of time, living a mindful and aware existence in the present? This lesson from Chamanlalji was not just an extraordinary leadership and management one for me, but one filled with practical spirituality too. The challenge is in living it all the time.

Balu

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