Arjuna Panda was the Chief Evolutionary Officer of Pandava Limited. As they say in refined corporate language, 'His life was truly downsized'. Perhaps, it will be more appropriate to say that he was feeling a lot like Leonardo DiCaprio inside that sinking ship in The Titanic. The hostile market had turned out to be the iceberg. The stocks of his company were sinking, so was his heart. Arjuna was slouching on the back seat of his Rolls-Royce Phantom pondering how he can let go of his near and dear ones in the Company in the ensuing retrenchment drive. Arjuna was truly dejected, distracted and despondent. His mind was working like a housefly that was unable to settle on an apple pie. Arjuna loosened his bow-tie and unbuttoned his Arrow shirt and began to reflect on the meaning of life.
This was a perfect setting for Arjuna’s trusted chauffeur Krishna Yadav to deliver the speech of a lifetime. Krishna was a multi-dimensional human. He was Arjuna’s driver as well his friend. He was a Superman deliberately doing double shift as Class Four employee. When he was not driving he was a lover and an uninhibited whistle blower. In fact, whenever Krishna blew his whistle all the ladies in the office would have their hearts quaking at 10 points on the Richter scale. He also danced and made his bosses dance around him. Krishna’s was an insightful man – like most company car drivers he could give you inside information on most subjects under the sun. If ever there was a truly successful human being—it was Krishna. Here is an executive summary of what he said in that famous 18 minutes speech to Arjuna Panda:
“Dear Arjuna Panda! Wake up! Size up your competition. Seize this moment to annihilate those who violate the dharma. Do not let your dogma ride over your dharma. Arrayed in front of you are the same people who once worked for your company! You don’t have to kill them. They have all been killed by their assorted corporate malpractices. As the Chief Evolutionary Officer you have to do your duty. You have take your company to a higher orbit of evolution. Your mangers who behave like monkeys will have to be transformed into monks. Their minds are as unruly as whirlwinds going round and round the same dark thought: pay more...pay more! Retrench them and they will have their just compensation. You great terminator—your real dharma is to terminate evil beings before they germinate.”
Listen: Managers are of three kinds:
First the tamasik, the dull ones. They steal office stationary but never run. They think that if they walk slowly they will not attract attention and never get caught. How weird! Little do they know that when everyone in the office is walking slowly, that strategy will not work. This type of managers start dozing off in the middle of presentations and snore sonorously. If you Arjuna are the pillar of the organization---these tamasik ones are the caterpillars.
Second, the rajasik, the aggressive, macho managers. They get out to work and look for opportunities to scare people. They have done their SWOT analysis. They know that opportunities are created by threats. They achieve great results by igniting fire behind their subordinates rather than inside them. These are the ones responsible for manufacturing healthy balance sheets of perennially sick companies.
The third kind are the sattvik, the silent operators. They underpromise and overdeliver. They overcharge the Company for their traveling expenses and underexplain why they are doing so. They listen very attentively to their foggy old bosses; and then do exactly the opposite of what their bosses have advised them to and they succeed!
After such a speech, if ever there was an inspired man—it was Arjuna Panda. He tightened his bow tie and buttoned his Arrow shirt with firm fingers. He then whispered this ultimate motivational mantra: FOLLOW YOUR SELF!
For a deeper understanding of the conversation between Krishna and Arjuna you may wish to read my recent book Timeless Leadership: 18 Sutras from the Bhagavad Gita (Wiley)