Lever of Faith and Passion

Business 8 Comments

Published in Corporate Dossier ET, November 05, 2010

Following the many miracles that God performed through Moses, the children of Abraham, enslaved by the Pharaoh in Egypt, were convinced that there was indeed a saviour who would liberate them and take them to the Promised Land. This faith was renewed when the Sea parted, enabling all the slaves to escape their masters.

The journey to the Promised Land meant travel through the wilderness. To feed the followers, God ensured that at dawn each day the earth was covered with Manna, food from Heaven, with which bread could be made. “Just take enough to feed your family for the day,” the followers were instructed, “Not more or less. Do not hoard for more Manna will surely come tomorrow.” Despite these instructions, and the daily appearance of Manna, every day someone or the other would hoard Manna thinking – ‘just in case!’ The hoarded Manna would invariably become inedible. Still, it did not stop someone or the other in the vast numbers of followers from hoarding at least a fistful of extra Manna each day.

The level of doubt would rise and fall regularly despite reassurances from Moses and miracles of God. Once, there was so much doubt, caused by thirst and absence of water bodies in the wilderness that the followers forced Moses to use his own magical powers and produce water. Under pressure from his followers, Moses submitted. He struck a rock with his rod and produced water to quench the thirst of his followers. God frowned when this happened, for even Moses displayed lack of faith, albeit momentarily. For this act, Moses was not allowed to enter the Promsied Land. So comes this tale based on narrations found in the Talmud, (Christian) Bible and Koran.

It sounds completely illogical, but most great companies are built on faith. All data that is presented by entrepreneurs and innovators belongs to the past. All ideas and plans are located in the future. Between the known past and the unknown future are a set of assumptions. We use data and experience and testimonies and logic to prop up a vision and mission and goal, but it remains an unseen, uncharted, Promised Land. To reach it, one needs not just resources and capacity and capability (all of which can be measured) but also passion (which cannot be measured). Passion is just another word for faith. All the money in the world cannot deliver results if there is no faith.

Post recession, a training institute run by Pradeep is facing the ire of its franchisees. They want the fees to be reduced to attract students. “The students have lost faith in technical training,” they argued vociferously in the annual franchisee meet. Pradeep said, “But I have not. The market is picking up. Demand for skilled technicians is on the rise. We just have to be patient. The students will return. Have faith.” But the franchisees are shouting and screaming. They want their deposits back. They are not seeing a mad rush of enquires that existed in boom time. They are afraid that they will lose everything if they do not jump ship now.

Pradeep is spending hours showing them data: how the economy is recovering, how job search sites reveals dearth of skilled manpower, he is showing them videos of recruiters talking about the need to build a base so that one is prepared when new orders pour in. But none of these presentations are having any impact with investors. They want guarantees and proofs. Pradeep is at his wits end. Should he strike the rock, let the water out, submit to his own doubts. If he does that, he knows that he will never enter the Promised Land he so yearns for. For now, he clings to faith, which is indifferent to any evidence.

  • Bhavani Shankar

    Nice article on Faith. Nowadays though you have passion, it is being sidelines due to various other business reasons. It is not at all recognized. :(

  • Nice. Aligning everyone in the team to your vision and approach is a big difficult and important task.

    It is significant quality of a leader to be able to do so.

  • Vinay Raj

    Faith is very important. Hope and Patience will take one to the promised land.

  • Amit Sinha

    Faith is equivalent to Trust. A trust deficit organization is less effcient and donot achive targets which they are capable of. Organsiation trust is a combination of self belief, empathy and team spirit. Sadly we are missing it in most of the places as our society today does not value relationship and has become prone to narcissism


    But is Faith Also “indifference” cause sometimes its possible that what others are saying is for the good of you but you are not ready to listen to them due to your over-confidence which leads to Failure…..?????????

  • There is no mention in the Koran that Prophet Moses ever lost faith in the Almighty or disobeyed the Almighty.I have no idea of what is written in the Bible. For that matter, the Faith of any Prophet is unflinched and unshaken, because all prophets are shown the vision by the Almighty.Moses could not reach the Promised Land because his followers did not have faith in the words of Moses.

    Coming to Pradeep,the decision he took is perfect because reward is always linked the risk one is ready to take. The calculated risk taken by Pradeep is based on his belief, which is not blind belief, but backed by his study of the past, or some other pointers or data, because of which he was convinced that recession is coming to an end. He would surely be rewarded.

  • Hi Dr. Devdutt,

    I would be very interested to know the background of when and how the liberal Hindu’s adopted the hard liner stand of allowing only Hindu’s into some of our temples.

    It won’t be entirely wrong to relate the question to the recent news event of not allowing a ‘white american’ hindu into Puri,Jagannath temple, but the question has been there on my mind for several years now. Also there is history associated with the Bhakta Salabega, whereas some say this practice came only during British.

    So, any information on this will be highly appreciated.


    • Devdutt

      The idea of excluding people from temples is an ancient practice…for examples, in some temples, low castes were kept out, women were kept out, muslims were kept out, and now all now-hindus are kept out.