Bagong Ako, Bagong Mundo

Bagong Ako. Bagong Mundo

“Self-empowerment and Value-based Leadership”

(Talk of Sr. Meera Nagananda on 25 July 2008 at the Royal Mandaya Hotel, Davao City, Philippines)

Om shanti. Can we all say together from our hearts “om shanti”.

A very good morning and greetings of peace to all of you. This morning, I am very thrilled to share with you the wisdom and knowledge I have been learning for the past 30 years of my involvement with the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University which was established in the year 1936, which has been existing in the whole world for the past 72 years. And I have been connected with the university for the past 40 years and like all others, I have also learned many aspects of life and living.

This morning, I have been asked to talk about the topic “Self-empowerment and Value-based Leadership”. As many of the previous speakers mentioned, we all agree that we are living at present in the most difficult situation in the world and everything is going into its extreme. We don’t need to describe it. And we are all looking forward to have some kind of leadership that would help us - to guide people in the right direction. What I have found is that in the past decade, there has been an explosion in the publication of literature on the subject of leadership.

The world needs definitely an enlightened response to the many challenges it faces; it needs a credible and sustained leadership that is pro-active and not simply reactive, that is inspired and not simply functional, that would be an example to our future generation.

We can see that there are three types of people in the world today: One, those who make things happen for they take up leadership and become the source of inspiration to others also. Second are those who follow whatever is happening and they are the followers. The third type of people are the ones who do not realize what is happening and by the end of the day, they keep asking: what has happened today? They hardly realize that the world around them has completely changed.

So let us ask ourselves, out of the three categories, which category do I belong to? Because all those who have gathered here are special souls, leaders in your own right. You know to be a leader doesn’t mean that you have to be a politician; or you have to be in a corporate world leading in the manager’s role. You can be a leader being a housewife. You can be a leader when you are a student. Each one of us is a leader and each one of us needs to be followers because sometimes, we have to lead and sometimes, we have to follow. That following is not actually subservient; it is leading with understanding when I follow.

What I feel is that becoming a leader is not something that I can do overnight. That is why they say leaders are not born; leaders are made. It is a gradual developmental process. Leaders grow and develop based on the choices they make in their life. Someone asked me a question the other day: what is the difference between a manager and a leader? Can a leader be a manager? Or can a manager lead? I will put forth in front of you the contrast and you can judge yourself. The contrast between a manager and leader has never been as sharp now as it was in the past.

1. A manager stays back and pushes people into the system while the leader stays in front and pulls people along with him/her.

2. A manager administers and maintains; a leader innovates and develops.

3. A manager relies on system and is founded on control; a leader relies on people and is founded on their trust.

4. A manager does what is right but a leader does right things

5. A manager manages others; a leader inspires others to manage themselves

What our world is seeking today is not managers but leaders. Managership today seems to have become a secondary qualification to leadership so I would say that every leader is a manager but not every manager is a leader.

So now the question comes: how do you define a true leader? Of course we are all leaders in our own right but we need to become genuine leaders to lead the spirit. This was defined by some experienced person: a true leader is someone who never reacts but observes, understands, analyzes and then acts decisively. So if there is reaction to anything, then the charismatic qualities of leadership is lost. Before these definitions we can see five C’s that define the character of leadership. If each one of us, no matter what situation you are, if you have these five C’s, the charisma of leadership, you are a true leader.

The five C’s of Leadership:

1. A true leader is someone who is cool and calm; who does not lose temper. Because of being cool and calm, there is no confusion.

2. Clear vision. A leader has to be visionary. If there is no clear understanding of what he is doing, why and how it is to be done, the mission cannot be fulfilled. As we believe in Raja Yoga, “vision without action is only a dream; action without vision is drudgery; vision and action is what makes us a better person and the world a better world. A leader, because of having clear vision and action according to the vision becomes good in his own leadership.

3. Confidence. It is very important to have confidence to lead others.

4. Commitment. It is not something that is done by force; leadership is voluntary and so it has to have commitment.

5. Creative. Highly creative ways.

What I see around in the world today, what has been missing in these ideas and concepts of leadership, is leading the spirit. So what I would like to underline especially is leadership of spirit, that is called value-based, that is leading from the heart, value- based leadership is leading from the heart, whether it is an organization, institution, whatever it is you are a leader of.. What is it composed of? It is only a set of relationships, isn’t it? That is what you are leading. And what is this set of relationships? It is just a gathering of spirits.

In any gathering of spirits, leaders are not selected or appointed, they emerge. They emerge because of the authenticity of their own being, the power of their essence, the integrity of their actions, the courage in their hearts and their genuine care for others. That is why I say leadership from the spirit is value-based leadership. Because it is all connected with values. Leaders in any organization are not defined by their position or their privileges.

How do you define leaders in an organization; it is defined as their ability to command the trust and respect of others as human beings, not as employees and colleagues. These intangible forms of energy, what we call trust, respect, loyalty will eventually crystallize into commitment. Leaders of spirit have a profound effect on those around them, from the energy they constantly radiate and their capacity to be able to be sensitive to the feelings and emotions and needs of others. The empathy and care which they are capable of expressing into all situations emerges straight from their heart and they seek for nothing in return. Perhaps most magnificently nothing bothers them. Their inner stability is deep and they are never moved by anger, defamation or complaint about anything or anybody because their emotions are at rest, they are free from the attachment to the roles they play.

In fact, we should never consider leadership as a position. If I approach leadership as a position, then I am not able to fulfill my responsibility. It is not a position, it is not a profession. It is service to mankind. Just as I am keeping a profession, we name it a profession but it should not be approached as a profession. Because then we will only think with a money-making mentality. That is when corruption comes. This is what is happening today. Because we are using our profession to acquire more money, become more rich, to gain more position. As a result, the ordinary people are suffering from their share.

When I heard the word corruption, I was thinking, what is the root cause of corruption in our society? It is ignorance. What kind of ignorance? Ignorance about the knowledge about my self. How many of us know your true self? If I ask you today, could you please introduce yourself to me, who are you? What do you say immediately? All the many labels associated with your body or maybe a long line of positions and privileges or whatever. But that is not me. When I get influenced by my roles, I forget the real me. All these: professions, privileges, are all labels. When I get influenced by body consciousness as we call it in the Brahma Kumaris, we are influenced by five negative traits, namely anger, lust, greed, attachment, ego.

What we are seeing in the world today is corruption due to ignorance of the true self. It is only when we are able to get out of that ignorance and enlighten ourselves and become aware that we are not bodies. We have a body, but we are souls, being of lights. Then we begin to emerge positive values. I tell you honestly, all human beings are good originally, no one is bad, but if we look around us today everyone seems to be bad and no one seems to be good. The reason is we have forgotten our true self, we have become too much role conscious and we meet each other with our roles. We recognize each other on this basis. That is why it is said, don’t judge a book by its cover; but by its content. But we don’t do that.

We judge people from the type of car they drive, the costume they wear, and the handbag they carry. Because then we know, they must be someone, a big boss. But in fact, this is the role consciousness that is causing corruption. So let us come out of that role. That is temporary. Become real. When I move from that role consciousness to my real soul consciousness, I can create equal vision, I can create all the positive values necessary into my life. Why I say that is because within that being of light, the point of light, there are seven positive values which are necessary to fight against corruption: peace, love, mercy, happiness, power, truth and purity. All these are the intrinsic qualities of the soul.

The more we become real, develop this real consciousness and then play our role, we will easily become free from corruption. Why? Because selfishness leads to corruption, selflessness solves corruption. Mahatma Gandhi once said, there is enough to feed the mouth of everyone, all the people on earth, but there is not enough to feed the greed. Greed means when you want to have more than you need. So why corruption? Because we are greedy. We feel the greed all the time. When I engage in corruption, I am actually depriving the share of other people because I want everything for myself and so I find that value-based leadership is when leadership is based on spirit. And soul consciousness means enlightenment, where I live with my real consciousness. This is what I mean here: when they are free from attachment from the roles they play, they are free from all personal agenda or pursuits.

So that is why this is clear that those who lead individuals are able to make them follow not by force, not by fear but out of pure love and respect. Today, sometimes leaders force people to follow them; leaders pursue people to follow them. But if you have spirituality in your leadership, you don’t have to do that. You have so much love and respect that people are inspired in the footsteps of such leaders that they never become followers. What do they become? They become leaders themselves.

So that is the authenticity of a value-based leadership. A leader makes another a leader and not a follower. I am so proud today to be with you to tell you that our father-founder Prajapita Brahma was a visionary. In his leadership he did not create followers. We do not call ourselves the followers of our founder-father. He made each one of us a leader. He did not ask us to follow him blindly; he did not ask us to follow him by force; but the example that we saw inspired us to follow his footsteps. So my request to all the leaders here today: let there be so much of spirituality. Lead souls in the form of spirit so that they become leaders themselves, not followers. Some leaders enjoy followers worshipping them, always praising them, admiring them. That does not become a healthy style.

Leading can be on three levels because leadership is based on three aspects: leading the task, leading the people and leading from the heart. What does it mean to lead the task? Today, everybody wants power; people are power crazy. But what is real power? Not to control others but to rule yourself. Real power does not come from position, practice or fame. Dictators do not have real power although they may seem to. No one loves a dictator no matter what he promises. Real power comes when you give it away. This is the paradox of power. Real power comes when people are able to rule themselves, not by dictating but by teaching them how to control themselves and become self-masters. Real power, leading from the heart, lies in giving power to others.

I belong to a huge organization which has 8,000 branches in 100 countries and 900,000 students all over the world. You can imagine the responsibility the administrative head has. Of course our founder-father left his body in 1969 and Dadi Prakashmani was given the responsibility, as a woman, to lead the organization. And I have had many encounters with her and I have seen practically with my eyes what kind of leadership she has. She would definitely give responsibility and authority to people, and not control them. And that is how she created trust in people that even today when she has left the body, we have 45 departments in our headquarters which are running so smoothly, that when people come to our headquarters and they see the work that is going on, they don’t know who is doing it. Every morning, 3000 people’s breakfast is ready, every afternoon the same amount. It is not only one conference but throughout the year, one after the other. So this is because of the credit of the kind of leadership of Dadi Prakashmani who trusted people and gave them responsibility and let them do it. She did not control them. Because after giving responsibility, if you don’t trust people, they don’t feel confident and they cannot become your hand.

And so I am so proud to see that in her absence, the whole organization is running smoothly because of her balance of lightness and responsibility. She was a very responsible person but very light. Very often she used to tell us, “You know, I don’t think I am doing anything. All of you are doing everything. I am just enjoying, seeing everything. “ And she also used to say herself, “ I never considered myself to be the head. That is why I never get headache.”

Is there a leader here who doesn’t have headache. Who among you never had headache? Usually, leaders have all the time headache. Because we make other people’s problem our problem. That is why we get headache. Sometimes, I see in social service, people who are doing social service… Social service leaders should be selfless, isn’t it? But I am so struck to see that in social organizations too there is conflict. Conflict for what? Position, prestige, name, fame… But we are all supposed to serve selflessly, to give faith to others. But because we have not seen the inner self, we cannot see the outer self. So I really admire the leadership of Dadi Prakashmani where she trusted people, she gave them authority, she did not control them. And so today she has many hands in her absence who can work for her.

That is leading people. Because she gives them trust and respect, they are able to give the same. Trust, respect, commitment, loyalty… all these values come together to make leadership a spiritually-based leadership.

The third aspect is leading from the heart. I said earlier, leaders of the heart are not selected or appointed, they emerge. They emerge because of their authenticity, integrity, courage and care for others. They have the ability to command trust and respect. So that is why I tell you that when the people’s work is done, the people say… they don’t say that “the work is done” but that “we have done it ourselves”.

The other aspect is that a true leader never creates followers but when the work is over such leaders will say, we have done the work. Not that the work is over so that leaders get their headache off, but after every project this is what we see usually, one headache is gone from the leader. In essence, what we find is that empowering myself means to bring in spirituality. Without spirituality, there cannot be self-empowerment. If you only think of empowerment then you can see it only at the gross level, you know, fighting for their rights, re-addressing the wrong, empowering myself. That is not necessary, if you start empowering yourself from the inner side, self-empowerment, then your leadership will definitely be value-based. When we talk about empowerment, it is connected with the spirit, spirituality.

We have a lot of religion in the world today. But even with all the religion, our spirit is suffering. What is missing is spirituality, wisdom. We don’t need intelligence; we don’t need religion. We already got it. What we need today is spirituality in practice. And value-based leadership means to have the master quality of the spirit in action. There are mainly five master qualities in action, showing spirituality in relationship: peace, love, truth, mercy, non-violence. Mahatma Gandhi became a leader to make India independent on those basis. The four pillars that he kept as his support are peace, love, truth and non-violence. And those four qualities make up the qualities of spirituality.

If I want to empower the spirit, I need to give time to myself. So I come back to the self now: how much time do I give myself as a leader? Tell me honestly. No time, that is the answer. True leaders would never say that but they always give priority to the self. I suggest that if you really want to lead from inside, lead the spirit, have value-based leadership, first of all, take care of yourself. If you start serving others without serving yourself, your service will suffer. If you have many obstacles, my suggestion is that every morning, make an appointment with yourself. Because you are the most important person in your life, so make an appointment before you go to bed, that the first thing I am going to do next morning when I wake up is to sit with myself and talk to myself. Don’t deprive yourself, because you must remember this physical law that “wherever your attention goes, your energy flows and life grows.”

So if you keep giving attention to yourself, your energy will grow and your life will flow smoothly. So wake up every morning with one positive thought. Concentrate yourself on those thoughts and keep the question: who am I?

At that time, forget about all the roles you have to play. Forget all the masks that you have to put on. Let go of all the hats that you have to wear during the day. Just become naked, just become yourself and just visualize yourself as a tiny point of light. Concentrate your thoughts on that energy and let the energy flow into your mind and into your body. Allow yourself to bathe in it. That is real spiritual empowerment. I am bringing out what I already have within; tapping the energy that I have. That will actually prepare you to face the challenges in life with positivity. The second thing as a leader that I need to do to make sure that I continue the values that I have set in my leadership is to remind myself. Because when we go out into our day, we forget. So what we do in Raja Yoga is what we call JAM practice. JAM means just-a-minute. So I request all the leaders who are here today to JAM several times. I am not talking about getting stuck in the traffic jam. I am not asking you to eat more jam. I am asking you to JAM. That means you can do it standing, sitting, eating… anytime you can JAM. That means talk for a minute, only sixty seconds, what on earth are we going to do?

Anyway we are losing so many thoughts thinking about so many unnecessary things. So this is going to be just beneficial to you. Slow down, calm down. And let the self relax, let the thoughts flow. Remind yourself of the positive thought. That thought is going to energize me to such an extent that for the next 59 minutes at least, you will really be in such a powerful state of the mind that you are able to see things clearly, communicate properly and you will see the impact of that.

The third prescription of value-based leadership is that before going to bed, I must be aware that my last thoughts will have an impact on my sleep. So always make sure that before going to sleep, you roll the scroll of the whole day. Accepting everything that has happened in my life today was good. Even if somebody has disappointed me, even if somebody has fought with you, caused you defamation, anything, all those things were necessary. You think so? That is why in Christianity there is the prayer, isn’t it, “Please, God, take care of my friends, I will take care of my enemies.” Why? Because my friends will only praise me and make me feel good but my enemies are the ones who have the courage to criticize me, isn’t it? I consider my critics to be my friends because they see what I have to change. Friends will just praise you and give you… so don’t be carried away by your friends. Wherever you go, you look out for your enemies. Actually they are your real friends because they help you to grow. In Chinese, there is a proverb which says that crisis is another name for opportunity. So enemies are actually best friends who help make me move forward. Whatever has happened during the whole day, accept that everything was very good and beneficial. Be a well-wisher for everyone, for criticizing me, whatever, and then thank God. And so that ends it, the role of the day is rolled up.

Never carry back what has happened today for next week. Don’t carry grudges, revenge… because you have lost spirituality. Instead, forgive and forget. When you forgive yourself you are spiritual; when you forgive others you allow them to become spiritual. That is why they say “to forget is human, to forgive is divine.”

So I finish my day and I wake up the next morning totally fresh. Then you will see that you can play your role, whatever role you play, very fresh . What is keeping the old is thinking about what has been done by other people.

So in that way, you are slowly building spiritual values, moral values, social values and human values. We call it in Brahma Kumaris as living values. These are living values for value-based relationship. So we need 12 living values to make our leadership authentic. Some of these are peace, love, honesty, integrity, responsibility , cooperation, respect, unity. These 12 values are what we call living values that will empower myself, make my inner self unique.

I was really moved to hear that Davao has been number one in many aspects. I heard the list that the sister was mentioning. I really want to congratulate the city. Give yourself a big hand. Why? It is because of you. You can make it a reality. I was thinking Davao should get itself the title “Brave-o”, well done, by taking the initiative to bring spirituality in leadership, number one. I hope my wish will be granted and you will become number one in bringing values into your life. Because you see when values come, corruption disappears. Corruption is only the absence of ethics. When we all correct ourselves, corruption finishes. So this is what we say, when I say, let each one of us bring change in our lives. Little by little. Replacing anger with peace, replacing arrogance with humility; selfishness with selflessness; kindness instead of duality; love instead of hate. So let us work on one value at a time and replace the negativity into positivity. So together we can make a better world.

So this is what we say: Union with One, harmony with all. Let us all connect ourselves by bringing such values so that we are all united and that unity will automatically bring harmony. I hope something that I have said this morning will be of use to you in your own life, whether you are a housewife, whatever you are doing, and you will be able to make your life a contribution to make this world a better place.

Thank you.

Post a Comment

  © Blogger template The Professional Template II by 2009

Back to TOP