How to better Personal Management- lessons from the Mahabharata

Sunil was a very worried man. A month had passed since he had lost his job due to organizational downsizing and he was yet to find another placement. He had been aware of probable layoffs due to organizational changes, and yet was not prepared for redundancy when it actually hit him. He considered it a reflection on his capabilities and was overwhelmed by a sense of shame, fear, trepidation and resentment.

As the days passed, he kept slipping deeper into a vortex of depression, self-doubt, anger and frustration. He became increasingly withdrawn, seldom stepped out of the house or communicated with friends. The few interviews he attended did not materialize due to his lack of self-confidence.

One day, while moping about the house, he chanced upon a copy of the Mahabharata and started to read it to divert his mind. But, he soon became engrossed in it and on completion, sat back to reflect what he could take-away from the book. He realized that the protagonists of the epic, the Pandavas had faced redundancy several times in their lives and yet charted successful comebacks each time.

There were at least 2 major occasions, when they had lost their positions as rulers abruptly and been forced into prolonged periods of exile. And at the end of each period, they had fought back and regained their rightful positions as rulers of the land.

What was the secret of their success? Was it because they were the mightiest and the prolonged periods of exile did not impact their capabilities? Not really, he reflected. They had been just as disadvantaged as he was feeling currently, and in fact even more so, given that they had lost their entire kingdom and possessions each time. They had gone through equal measures of anger, frustration and hopelessness.

But, they had consciously followed four basic tenets in their crisis period to help chart a successful comeback:

They managed their own Well-Being – both Physical and Mental

The Pandavas led a disciplined life in the forests. They adapted to the routine of forest life, with each member performing their responsibilities in gathering food and shelter, along with regular practice of their warrior skills, all of which gave them a sense of achievement.
Sunil decided to start practicing Yoga, take walks and regularize his diet.
The brothers would often feel very angry when they recalled being cheated in the dice game, the humiliation they had to suffer in the court and a sense of despair knowing that their cousins were very powerful and would not give them back the kingdom easily. There would be moments when one of them, especially Bheema and Arjuna would be very tempted to break their commitment to exile and go back to fight the Kauravas. But, whenever they faced such situations, they would take counsel from their eldest brother, the wise Yudhistra, the sages in the forests or their friend and philosopher, Krishna. They would discuss their feelings and frustrations with each other and feel better when counselled by wise people. This helped them retain their spirits in face of adversity.

Sunil too realized that he must come out of his shell and sought counsel from close friends and relatives, with whose well-meaning advice, he was able to think more clearly and with direction.

He stopped taking his redundancy personally and accepted that it was part of a larger business strategy. He sought advice from people who had faced similar situations successfully and took learnings from their experience.

The Pandavas adapted the lifestyle of forest dwellers

Once exiled to the forests, the Pandavas realized that they could no longer like kings. They could no longer wear rich clothes and ornaments or live a lavish lifestyle. They adapted their lifestyle to that of forest dwellers. They opted for simple clothes, food and shelter as available in the forests and happily enjoyed the same.
Sunil too decided to cut all frills from his household expenses. He took his wife and children in confidence and took stock of their financial situation. This helped him plan for the most critical expenses and/or curtail non-critical luxuries till he secured a new job. This exercise helped him gain the support of his family and provided him the much needed moral support.

Given an opportunity, the Pandavas networked and socialized

Exile to the forests did not stop the Pandavas from socializing and networking with others. They interacted with sages, forest dwellers and other kings they happened to meet, which ensured that they got the support from many powerful friends in their fight back for the kingdom. They voluntarily helped the sages and fought many evil people to protect the forest dwellers from harm. They found time for fun, hunting and playing sport.

Sunil realized that his network of friends, colleagues and clients were vital links which could connect him towards his next career move and started renewing his connects. Moving into action mode gave his morale a big boost.

The Pandavas continuously learnt new skills and up scaled existing ones

The Pandavas never rested easy on their commendable skills. They continuously focused on skill enhancement, often going through arduous penances in search of celestial weapons. Additionally, they developed the secondary skills for surviving in their last year of exile, which they would have to spend incognito. Yudhistra became an advisor, Bheema a cook, Arjuna a dancer, Draupadi a maid and the twins horse keepers.
Sunil reflected on the skills which he currently had and what he would need additionally to make himself more marketable for the job market. He also gave thought to a Plan B to tide over the days till he secured a good job. He started freelancing, which provided him financial support and boosted his confidence.

Sunil’s story had a happy ending. A couple of months after he started rationalizing his finances, consciously managed well-being and learnt new skills, he landed a job which was much better than his previous one. A break from his long tenured job had given him the opportunity to rethink and restart his life the way he actually wanted to. He was now more confident, happy and conscious of his choices and adopted the four rules continuously.

  • Written byVijaya Das

    Vijaya is a People Analytics professional with a passion for writing. She loves to explore the special in the normal and takes inspiration from seemingly everyday events. A rationalist by nature, she is also highly enthused by travel, movies and mythology.


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