Leadership the ANNA HSZARE Way
Why did Mr. Hazare take a vow of indefinite silence in October 2011?
Indefinite fast is when he expends his energies; indefinite silence is when he recharges his batteries.
Indefinite fast is when he lead others amidst engulfing chaos unleashed by encircling groups; indefinite silence is when he engages with himself in isolation to emerge with newer clarity
Indefinite fast is a performance of protest against the government; indefinite silence is the preparation of hos self for the next battle.
When you perform your acts of leadership, you zoom in for action and zoom out for reflection.
Zoomed-in moments leave very little room for deep reflection. Because you are constantly engaged in the cut –and –thrust of your leadership work, zoomed –in moments also force you to take a worm’s eye view. You will be severely constrained in your ability to take a bird’s eye view while you are performing. Therefore, periodic zooming out becomes critical if you want to excel in, and perpetuate your work of leadership.
Mr. Hazare is not alone in the practice of withdrawing to reflect. Another core group member, Mr. Kejriwal retreated into his own zone of silence – ten days of Vipassana meditation – soon after the hectic August fast came to an end. Mr. Kejriwal has practiced Vipassana for about fifteen year now and it help him ‘be in the present’. He says that he gains oneness with himself by practicing Vipassana. Such withdrawal into the self usually endows people with greater clarity about the present situation as well as newer perspectives about the past and future.
Leaders in different cultures use different practices to zoom out, but all of them try to get themselves into the present, to forget the past and the future. For example, in the western world, some leaders engage in hard sports such as mountain climbing, where you cannot afford to de-focus from the present. Else, your life could be in danger. By drawing themselves away from constantly thinking about how to keep advancing their leadership work, they gain- as a by-product-newer perspectives for their future leadership work.
Specific times and activities for zooming out completely is one thing; but it is equally critical to develop an ability to zoom out while you are performing your act of leadership. Most effective leadership practitioners nurture the skill of zooming in and zooming out at will. They are able to zoom out amidst action, even momentarily, to gain perspective, only to return to action immediately. For example, Mr. Hazare was zooming out during long periods of silence even during the August fast, despite all the activities, sounds and sights around him, only to return to the work of guiding the group in its negotiation with the government on the lokpal bill.
Here are some benefits of practising activities that get you to zoom out at will:
You can get a new perspective and identify future problems
You can diagnose your situation differently by drowning out tangential noises and distractions.
You can anticipate responses of various individuals and groups to your leadership acts.
You can interpret event and others’ action and calibrate your responses.
You can rejuvenate yourself for your upcoming work.
Fully cognizant of the need to alternate between action and reflection, some leaders consciously develop this critical skill by the practice of specific methods such as meditation.
How will you develop the ability to effectively zoom in and zoom out in your own work?
What I want to achieve – what I have been striving and pining to achieve these thirty years – is self – realization, to see god face to face, to attain Moksha. I live and move and my being in pursuit of this goal. All that I do by way of speaking and writing , and all my ventures in the political field are directed to this same end…
For Arvind Kejriwal, Mr Hazare’s close associate, it is about his ‘journey’. Speaking about his contribution to society, Mr. Kejriwal said:
We don’t contribute to society. That’s an illusion in our mind. It is just an opportunity society gives us and we should be grateful for it…. So for me it is really not about the impact on society, but about my journey and doing what I feel I have to do. We are given certain tools and we should put them to use to the best of our abilities. But without any delusion that we are doing something great for the country or for society.