The title of the book, under review here, written by an eminent and versatile trainer in the area of Applied Behavioural Science, Dr Nagendra P Singh, published by Evincepub Publishing, is Why do I need to matter?

While at first glance, it may appear to be a book akin in content and genre to a ‘self-help,’ book, it really is not so. The book is a bundle of examination of self, from specifically the point of role that one plays in the setting of facilitation of human interaction.

The focus mostly is about facilitation in the context of small groups by a person designated ‘Facilitator’. The book meanders through the realms of spirituality, existentialism, some aspects of positive psychology and ends up in urging each of us, who may read the book, to consign ourselves to a Higher Power.

When I commenced reading the book, I was reminded of Simon Sinek and his seminal concept of ‘start with the why’. So when I ask myself ‘why I need to matter’, I know it is my calling and that I have been given this gift of Life to leave an indelible legacy by having joined those who have passed on, yet before they departed, made our world a better place.

Behavioural manifestations

In his foreword for the book, the erudite, highly regarded social scientist, Dr T V Rao, writes “Dr Nagendra P Singh’s latest research creation is rooted on one’s need to make an impact, influence, or feel powerful through various behavioural manifestations. The book draws attention on the author’s quote, ‘quite often, people pursue what they want to be instead of what they are meant to be.’”

Dr NP Singh, throughout the book, alludes to how each of us must distinguish between the roles we play and the person we are. Jacob Moreno, the discoverer and later proponent of Psychodrama and Sociodrama, wrote as far back as 1913, when he watched children act out parts that, ‘Man is a role player.’

Dr Singh, through his attempt to bring clarity to understanding ‘role taking’, ‘role making’ and ‘role effectiveness’ i.e.; how one takes on a role? How one makes the role happen? And how one can be effective in the role? contextualizes the idea of role through embedding the proposition in the role of facilitation in general and specifically in the context of group work.

While ‘why do I matter’ can convert into an esoteric debate and travel across life in general, putting it into a context helps the reader understand the significance of how each of us in the sphere of human existence can actually make a difference and in so being that we, each of us, matters which is apparent and real.

So in a limited sense each role that we play in life can leave a footprint. Yet when we go beyond the confines of a mere role, which Dr Singh writes, ‘is a bundle of expectations around the self’, we may, if understood, realise that roles are transient, while the ‘self is far beyond perishable.’

Unfortunately all ‘scientific knowledge of human behavioural science is strongly influenced by the Western school of thought (and) it (only) examines and studies the self largely at behavioural and attitudinal levels.’

A value embedded self

Thus we see the impact we can and make only through the myopic lens of an ‘opinionated self’ and an ‘attitudinal self’, missing out the core of who we are which is a ‘value embedded self’ and so our self-concept remains weak, incomplete and amorphous.

Dr Singh uses one very powerful route to make available to us the possibility of knowing that we matter, and for that, he being an eminent practitioner of applied behavioural science, uses the T group (training group) setting to help us understand the impact we can and may create from the angle of power dynamics, legitimate authority and purposeful living.

He dwells at length on the competencies each of us must possess to ‘make us matter’, to make a ‘difference’ to the world we inhabit and live in.

Through his commitment to ‘Vedantic philosophy’ and the adoption of all that is available in Indian scriptures, he posits, that appreciating our scriptures will help us deliver value to human existence and make our contribution matter.

Thus the question he asks, through the title of his book, is neither rhetoric nor is it a mystical question imploring us to delve into karmic deeds. It is instead a question that each one of us is enjoined to ask of ourselves and what better way is there than ‘atma vidya’ and through the process of ‘action, emotion and cognition’.

And for this he offers inputs from the group setting of T groups (small interpersonal groups) where ‘learning, knowing and training’ happen simultaneously.

The reviewer is a visiting professor at the Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chennai and is an organisational and behavioural consultant.

Check out the book on Amazon

About the book

Title: Why Do I Need to Matter?

Author: Nagendra P Singh

Price: ₹ 430

Pages: 173

Publisher: Evincepub Publishing