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We Are Part Of The Environment

Madhav needs to consciously make efforts to bring the relevant gunas to the fore in his behaviour

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In this case, coach raghav explains to madhav that becoming assertive is a situational requirement demanded by the environment he works in; more of a tactical issue and has nothing to do with changing one’s nature which Madhav fears; and if he internalises this fact becoming assertive will not be difficult.

Madhav can take a leaf from the Bhagavad Gita, which elaborates on svabhava — guna theory of excellence in behaviour — to extricate himself from the predicament the organisation has put him in. The theory explains that svabhava is constitutive uniqueness of a person — the nature; while prakriti is the dynamic force of energy through which svabhava expresses as behaviour in the operating field — the environment. The dynamism of prakriti comes from its intrinsic propensity to mold in three distinctive ways called gunas — satvic , rajasic and tamasic. Behaviours are different because of varying proportion of the three gunas in them. Greater satvic guna focuses on interrelatedness, essence, stability and equilibrium. Those dominated by rajasic guna are self involving and have achievement and goal oriented behaviours; while tamasic guna creates rigidity, inertia and narrow focus in actions.

Madhav’s record indicates a predominance of satvic guna in his work behaviour; one of the reasons that possibly made him a successful product manager. The impending promotion has shaken him out of his comfort zone as he is now expected to be assertive — not a satvic quality. He argues he does not like the ‘alpha male’ type of behaviour characteristic in colleagues, personally favouring an understated style of doing things which displays superior attitude in him, a rajasic quality. Further, his unwillingness to accept the 360 feedback about his lack of assertiveness displays in a tamasic rigidity. The pressure of the changed work scenario seems to have disturbed the guna balance in Madhav’s behaviour; his satvic sagacity over taken by tamasic cussedness and rajasic ego involvement.

What should Madhav do? The Gita says human behaviour is not instinctive but purposeful, and requires a field for enactment. It is performed as a duty, to achieve goals, or for fun and even leisure; but enactment is possible only after one collaborates effectively with natural, material, human and other resources in the environment. Reciprocally human beings add value to environment by contributing the resource which only that individual’s uniqueness can offer (svabhava).

Recognising the integrity between self and the environment is the underlying condition of successful endeavours; and this integrity is maintained by dynamism of prakriti. When something changes in the environment, by reconfiguring the proportion of gunas in our behaviour, we adapt to the situation.

Crises management requires leading from front which is rajasic quality; and in the face of tragedy, tamasic inertia helps contain extreme emotions. When any of the above specific tasks are performed the appropriate guna dominates while the other two recede.

Madhav must be mindful that integrity between him and the work environment is not static but dynamic; and appropriate reconfiguration of gunas, as and when required, is the only way to restore goodness of integrity in the relationship. The principle of desh, kala, patra, that is, place, time and person, can help decode the environment — the field of enactment of behaviour. In Madhav’s case, place of work will change when he moves to sales (desh); the time (kala) is important as he is slated for promotion, and people (patra) want Madhav to be more forthcoming. If Madhav internalises this, he will consciously make efforts to bring the relevant gunas to the fore in his behaviour. That is, by becoming strategically satvic and tactically rajasic, assertiveness that is grounded in his natural self will emerge spontaneously. And with help from Raghav, the cross over will be much easier.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


Mala Sinha

The writer is Professor of Organisational Behaviour and Business Ethics at Faculty of Management Studies, University of Delhi. Her research interests are women issues and Eastern spiritual philosophies

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