Respect thy Enemy
We all love to savour the sweet taste of success. Any victory or accomplishment is accompanied by a great sense of relief and I usually celebrate my successes after the noise and initial congratulatory rounds of back patting and floral bouquets have ebbed. I sit alone in a quiet corner, relishing a drink or two and retracing the path that led to that success in the first place. The corporate arena is literally referred to as a jungle sometimes, marked as it is by cut-throat competition and one-upmanship as a means of establishing one’s brand or one’s self-worth. In order to perform one’s job reasonably well, whilst functioning in a sane, conscientious and correct manner, everybody clicking their designer heels across the power corridors of the corporate sector, needs to be calm, collected and smart at all times.
A tall task, you may remark! That is so true but at times one just needs to go that one extra step, which goes a long way in beating the competition. Yes, to err is human and most of us wonder every now and then how to strike that fine balance between doing what is ‘right’ and what ‘ought’ to be done in order to strike that deal or bag that crucial contract. Everybody out there is ready to literally break an arm and a leg to outshine the so-called competition. Bribery, red-tapism, nepotism, corruption is rampant in the corporate hallways and people resort to any and every tactic to achieve success and rationalize their venality by saying that ‘the end justifies the means.’ Faced with such situations, I channelize my inner-self by referring to the teachings of the Bhagvad Gita, my all-time ‘go to’ friend, philosopher and guide. In the second chapter of the BhagvadGita, when Arjuna is apprehensive of wielding weapons against his own brethren, family and friends, Lord Krishna tries to assuage his doubts by lucidly elaborating how it is important to respect the enemy for what he represents. In the case of the battle between the Pandavas and the Kauravas, whilst Arjuna views the opponent as his ‘own’, in reality, the Kauravas represent oppression, injustice and malice, and this explains Krishna, is why Arjuna must stand tall and face his enemy. The analogy applies so aptly to a corporate conflict as well! If for instance, one is bidding for a contract, then one must understand the strengths and weaknesses of all co-bidders before quoting a suitable figure. It is pertinent to understand the capacity and capability of each one in the fray and one should not end up quoting a figure that is outrageously low in order to ensure bagging the contract, as this may reduce profit margins. On the other hand, whilst ensuring quality services, a good end product and ethical work-practices, one should be able to arrive at a reasonable quotethat enables a neat profit for the company as well as good value for money for the buyer. Delicacy needs to be deployed whilst encountering a shrewd or shark-like opponent, reminiscent of the twisted Duryodhana, who may choose even ‘unfair’ means to outperform the competitor. Whilst personal attacks should never be undertaken, a foul opponent needs to be tackled with respect and care and if matters come to reporting unlawful activities to higher authorities, then that should be well thought of and done only if absolutely necessary. Just like Arjuna had to ultimately pick up his weapons to claim what was rightfully his! I have realized that the golden words of the Bhagvad Gita always offer fortitude, strength and selflessness in an increasingly selfish and cut-throat world. It teaches how to fight the enemy with wisdom, compassion and respect, particularly in contemporary society that is so value-deficient. The Gita comes as a handy tool for personal, spiritual and professional growth and I have always turned to it whenever I am at a loss for answers to many of my problems; not just professional, but also personal, emotional, spiritual and other dilemmas that I encounter from time-to-time. As Lord Krishna says, “Fight for your right as your duty, O Arjuna.” Bhagvad Gita (2.18)