INTEGRITY… INSPIRATION… INSIGHT

His walk is brisk. Attired in a robe, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, with his luxurious beard greets the gathering consisting of corporate chieftains in their business suits, entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs, with the traditional namaste.

Accompanying him on to the dais is the clean-shaven Subroto Bagchi, Chairman, MindTree, with his receding hairline and formal business attire.

It is a “fireside chat” on “Powering the next step” at TiE Chennai’s recent annual conference.

It provides for a riveting conversation as Bagchi lobs one question after another to the Sadhguru, covering a range of topics – does he think he is an entrepreneur, failure, building an institution, maintaining equanimity, letting go…

The Sadhguru’s answers in flawless English have the audience spellbound, at times getting them to laugh, at times getting them to applaud.

Fear of failure

Bagchi’s first ball is an easy one. Does he think he is an entrepreneur? “Very much so,” replies the Sadhguru, founder of the Isha Foundation. Entrepreneurship, he says, has unfortunately got stuck in a narrow definition. An entrepreneur need not necessarily mean one who is running a commercial business, but also one who is adventurous. “In that sense, I am very much an entrepreneur. The only thing is that I don’t make money.”

Has he ever felt the fear of failure? Fear, says the Sadhguru, is not about failure. It is about trying to handle a situation which is not yet. “You can only handle a situation which is.” According to him, fear is essentially your mind going out of control. “Somehow you think that what your intelligence cannot do, fear can do,” he says.

From his experience of building the Isha Foundation – which according to the Sadhguru has 3,000 full-time volunteers and 2.5 million part-time volunteers globally – Bagchi wants him to share with budding entrepreneurs what it takes to build an institution.

Three qualities

The Sadhguru breaks this down to three basic qualities: Integrity – whatever the situation, if you do not compromise on your integrity, there will be trust and once there is trust it will be easy to operate. “Where there is no trust, there is no room for success. The necessary atmosphere will not exist,” he says. “Only when people trust you beyond themselves do you become a leader,” he adds.

The next essential quality is an infectious level of inspiration. If you do not have that, you cannot keep people fired up. “In your presence everybody is on. People won’t go to sleep when you are around. That is how it is for us.”

And, the third is insight. “If there is no insight, what is there to follow, what is there to toil for. Insight essentially means that you are able to see something that others are not able to see. Once you do this, people will naturally place you in a position of leadership,” says the Sadhguru. According to him, a position of leadership means you climb a perch. If you sit on a perch and do not see any better than the others, you will become an object of ridicule.

Bagchi then tries to draw out the Sadhguru with his views on how to maintain equanimity whatever be the situation. He wants to know three things one can practise that give an entrepreneur a sense of equanimity so that he or she can focus on the larger purpose of enterprise creation.

The Sadhguru says when one reads a manual even to learn how to use a gadget, they do not pay any attention to the most sophisticated gadget on the planet – the human body. “Now you want three points that will work. It will not work. I will give you 300 points. Still it will not work.”

“You have left me more confused than before,” says Bagchi. “Being confused is a much better state than being in some silly conclusion,” counters the Sadhguru. Confusion, he adds, means you are still looking. Your intelligence is still active. Conclusion means your intelligence is dead.

His advice is: “Don’t try to be better than somebody, your life will become miserable. It is just about exploring the full potential of who you are. If this one is finding full expression, it will be beautiful. You may be a mango tree, but you want to produce coconuts. You are going to be miserable for the rest of your life.”

Bagchi then tried to draw the Sadhguru into a discussion on when entrepreneurs should let go. When to let go, according to Bagchi, is a question that haunts every entrepreneur. “I am glad they are not letting go. Because if they let go, they will crash,” the Sadhguru replies. There are different ways of looking at this. For instance, an aeroplane pilot can afford to let go of the controls when the aircraft is cruising at an altitude of 33,000 feet. But, if the pilot lets go at 1,000 feet the aircraft will only crash.

“Even at a certain altitude, you have to still keep control of everything. It is just that the mode of control has changed. You have to give it to your co-pilot. But if he also sleeps, that is a different problem,” he says.

He narrated a story from yogic lore. An owl used to sit on a tree branch without moving for a long time. A rabbit that had noticed this, told the owl that while it sat still doing nothing, it had to hop around. Can it also sit and do nothing, the rabbit asked. The owl replied that it could if it wanted to. The rabbit then sat on the ground with its eyes closed. A fox that was passing by pounced on the rabbit and ate it up. The moral of the story: If you have to simply sit, you have to be at a certain altitude. Else, you will get eaten.

Advice to entrepreneurs

The Sadhguru’s final advice to entrepreneurs: Without taking charge of the human body, if you run into the world you will only hurt yourself. Entrepreneurs willingly step into unknown situations.

“When you step into unknown situations or uncertain terrain, losing your mind is easy.” There must be a certain balance and focus within you. If you do not acquire this quality, you will not enjoy your entrepreneurship. When there is fear of suffering, you will only take half steps in life. Entrepreneurs need to walk full stride. “For your sake and for the sake of the country, we want full stride entrepreneurship.”

Please send feedback, comments or suggestions to emergingentrepreneurs@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on December 16, 2012)
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