For a modern man, the major problem is not to decide on things, but to see them through to completion. If one gives up before they finish what they start, this can hardly be called determination. It’s more of a commonplace dissatisfaction. One lacks happiness and tranquility, and therefore spreads oneself too thin, tackles too many things at once, hoping to get a least some enjoyment. Such attitude to life, however, more reminds of shopping without money. One may spend much time choosing good clothes, may try them on, ask what they cost, imagine wearing them… But if one lacks money, it all makes no sense. It’s nothing but disappointment. Similarly, a person doing things by halves is like the one without money. One tries different things, but there’s not the slightest use in doing so. One becomes a complete failure in life, sinking deeper and deeper into depression.
Hence, today we’re going to go over several important rules that will help us to bring that deadlock to the end.
The first rule sages remind about sounds unexpectedly. Do not reveal your intentions to people; keep them secret, being determined to carry them into execution. This point is insufficiently understood nowadays. Some announce large building projects and timelines for them; others demand that all the details on construction be reported and unveiled in advance. As a result, everyone is dissatisfied. Has anyone ever managed to deliver their project on time and within the allocated budget? Big building plans are being announced, rigid timelines are being established. But everyone goes mad from that later. People are kicking themselves for getting involved in that.
It is quite common for all the spheres. Some announce deadlines for overcoming crisis, others –for development of a new drug or for opening a restaurant on Mars…
As a result, work is done hastily and carelessly, with the sole aim of meeting the tight deadline. Yes, the great expert can do it effectively and on time. But where can we find so many great experts? If an inexperienced employee is faced with the rigid deadline, the quality of work will inevitably suffer. It will only bring problems because such work will need to be redone anyway. Why is so much emphasis put on time? It happens because no one cares about the worker as a person. Work has become impersonal these days. Everyone is interested only in the end result. Hardly anybody cares about what personalities stand behind these achievements. If an expert cook can make 10 pies in half an hour, he can certainly make 100 pies, if you force him, but that would no longer be the same perfect pies. Just look at the foodservice system and you’ll understand everything. It has that problem: an attempt to cook satisfactory meals in as short time as possible. As for me, I would never eat at such a place.
Therefore, the sages don’t recommend setting official deadlines. Time limits must be set with due consideration of those who carry on with the work. If there are changes in the staff, the timeframes must also be changed. If timeframes are rigid and officially set, it makes an inexperienced worker tricky and cunning. Finally, it leads to the loss of quality and even total failure.
In a word, the secret is simple: external timeframes must be broad, while internal timeframes must be individually-set and precise. What a former worker could do in a day a new employee would probably accomplish only in a week. You can certainly make him perform this job in one day, but it’s going to be sheer drudgery. And remember: there’s nothing more unprofessional than to accuse a new employee of being slower than the ex-worker. By doing so, you don’t help him to become professional. It would only make him cunning and nervous.
This awfully reminds of a well-known parable of the scorpion and the frog.
The frog was once walking along the bank of a large deep river when the scorpion approached her. He wanted to get to the other side.
“Could you give me a ride on your back across the river?” he asked.
“I haven’t gone crazy yet,” replied the frog. “You’ll get on by back, but as soon as we’re in the water, you’ll sting me.”
“My dear frog,” said the scorpion politely, “if I sting you, we’ll both drown for I cannot swim. And I don’t want to die either.”
The argument seemed reasonable, so the frog agreed to help him across the river.
But in midstream the scorpion did indeed sting the frog.
The dying frog gasped, “Why have you done that? You will die too…”
The scorpion said, “Yes, I don’t want to die. But because I’m a scorpion, I couldn’t help but sting. This is my nature…”
Cooperation means we should complete assigned tasks together with people whom we can change inasmuch as they are able to change at this moment. Sometimes one doesn’t see any point in changing oneself at all. A thief continues to steal, a cheat continues to cheat, a fault-finder severely criticizes everyone, a lazy person leans away from work even at the crucial moment. But together we must go towards our goal, making the best use of our weaknesses and drawbacks. It’s quite impossible to put together a team of faultless people. Faultless people won’t be eager to participate in our project – they’ll start their own. What’s more, there are no absolutely faultless people in this world. There’s nothing to do here for them.
When dealing with a person, we must understand from the very beginning that he/she is not perfect and as a matter of fact, is not going to become as such in the near future. Therefore, we should take an individual approach and engage everyone according to their abilities. A thief should be appointed a guard and charged with the task of preventing theft from happening. A cunning person should be appointed as senior and given the task of preventing trickery and deceit in workplace. A lazy fellow should be assigned tasks that must be executed in a way that nothing gets done, as a result. There are pieces of work like that. If we understand the purpose of work perfectly well, we can utilize anyone’s good and even bad sides to achieve it. The Vedic astrology deals precisely with that. A good astrologer is able to comprehend the inward nature of a person and their hidden abilities. However, not everybody needs to know how precisely we meet our goals.
So let’s get back to the instructions given by the sages. They admonish us again and again: don’t put your trust in a bad companion nor even trust an ordinary friend, for if he should get angry with you, he may bring all your secrets to light. This world is by definition the world of duality. Any good achievements are accompanied by an array of problems and shortcomings. Beginner seekers of truth, as they join the spiritual movement, think that it must be perfect. But they find themselves plunged into the depths of despair. The spiritual movement taking place in the material world has all the disadvantages of the material world. Spiritual movement is valuable not because it is devoid of shortcomings, but because it takes us out of the material world. A life jacket is wet when you wear it on the water, but it keeps you from drowning. A fire extinguisher can spoil all your things, but its task is simply to choke a fire.
I’d like to make you aware of the following. He is a friend in whom we can confide even our deepest, darkest secrets, and she only is a wife in whose company the husband feels contented and peaceful. Both a wife and a friend never speak ill about you behind your back. In the Vedas a hypocritical person is compared to a pitcher of poison with milk on top. As soon as you realize that someone says bad things behind your back, you can no longer consider that person a wife or a friend. In fact, you have to start over with him/her, if you can.
Well then, we have the goal at hand and people who can help achieve it. We make a true estimate of our own abilities and that of each and every individual we cooperate with. We are not rigid with timelines and we don’t promise wonders to outside observers. At the same time we set accurate timelines for all our helpers with due regard to their personal characteristics.
There’s one more point here that needs to be emphasized. Goals should be accomplished in the mood of making a present or surprise. A true goal is selfless by nature. It is accomplished to make another person happy. And we feel the most happy when we receive a present or a surprise gift.
Hence, goals should be pursued in the gift-giving mood. We reach our goals to make others happy. Don’t let them know about a coming present in advance. It should be a surprise. Then we are sure to get the best result. First of all, it’s the present for God because we understand that we obtain results not by our efforts alone, but by the mercy of the Absolute Truth. We are like kids who buy a present for a mother with her own money or money stolen from dad’s pocket. Everyone knows about the origin of this present, but it’s no less pleasant. We give away not only the final result, but our pure and humble mood, free from bitter taste of self-complacency and selfishness.
There’s no need to get upset if we are not good at something — that we’re not people of extraordinary talent. Special skills and talents are not necessary for happiness. To attain happiness, one needs to be humble. This is the desire to think more of others than oneself. Talents would be more of a hindrance than a help on this path.
And lastly, here is an interesting parable.
Three fairies were invited to the christening of a baby prince. They all bestowed gifts upon him. One of fairies blessed the prince to find his true love. Another fairy blessed him to have as much money as he could want. The third fairy gave him the gift of beauty. But as is usually the case with fairy-tales, a witch turned up. She was so angry she hadn’t been invited that she spitefully declared: “You already have everything, but I’d like to give you something more. You would be skilful in everything you do.”
The prince grew up handsome, rich and beloved by all. He was a perfect painter, sculptor, musician, and mathematician. But he couldn’t follow through with anything because he easily got distracted and always wanted to start something new. So he died unhappy because he did everything by halves.