Published in Corporate Dossier, ET, April 06, 2012
Surya, the sun-god, was horrified when he noticed that the woman in his house was not his wife, Saranya but her shadow, Chaya. He stormed to the house of his father-in-law for an explanation, only to learn that she had run away because she could not bear his celestial radiance.Surya realized that, while in his story he was the victim, in his wife’s story he was the villain. That she slipped away in secret and kept a duplicate
in her place was an indicator of the extent of her fear. Had he seen the world from her point of view, he would have realized, before it happened, what would frighten his wife and what would make her take the drastic step of running away leaving a duplicate in her place. This would have given him the opportunity to change himself and save their marriage. Surya then sought out his wife, and discovered she had taken the form of a mare. Instead of asking her to change back to her human form, he turned into a horse and follows her to the pasture.
Yes, he could expect his wife to accept him as he was, or compel her to change for him, but that would mean he is incapable of growth. Reflecting on the other’s viewpoint prompts Surya to discover his ability to adapt, accommodate and grow. From god he becomes animal and leads a happy life in the pasture until Saranya is able once more to return back to the sky by his side, as his goddess.
This story of Surya and Saranya reveals how the behavior of people around us is a reaction to how they perceive us. If they fear us, they behave in a certain way. If they trust us, they behave in a different way. All behaviors depend on how the other perceives us.
That perception may be wrong, different from how we perceive ourselves, but it remains true to the perceiver. We can demand others change their perceptions of us or we can decide to change ourselves, work on making ourselves more trustworthy rather than expecting people to trust us. In the latter choice lies growth.
For two years, Sandesh had headed the operations department and put in place a whole set of systems and processes. With great difficulty, he had managed to get his team to align. The results had been spectacular. Then Sandesh decided to spend more time on strategic long term thinking and appointed Ketan to handle the operations role. He just had to ensure the systems and processes set up over two years were being followed. But no sooner did Sandesh handover the reins of the company, everything went awry. No one followed processes, no one followed systems, all reports were late. Sandesh was angry with Ketan and his team for failing to do their jobs. But then he realized, the event revealed something about him.
He had instituted the new processes by force of his personality. Alignment happened because people followed him, not the process. So when Ketan replaced him, everything collapsed. Ketan did not have the same force of personality as him. No matter how much he blamed Ketan and his team, he was the source of the problem.
Now, he had to go back to focusing on operations. But this time, like Surya, he had to change himself. Coach people to do the tasks not because he had told them to do it, but because it was the job, in other words take ownership of it. He also had to work with Ketan so that Ketan could take on the huge responsibility without feeling abandoned and alone. By this one shift in thinking, Sandesh had created a growth opportunity for himself