Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Power of Simplicity

In the competitive business environment we are in today, there is considerable pressure to work harder & longer, learn skills & techniques, and network furiously. This is an age when life seems incredibly complex and stressful. However, activity frenzy can cloud purpose (see also Is Activity Frenzy Clouding Purpose).

Purpose should be central to all activities we do. If purpose is clear, the means to the goal make their appearance for the adventurer. Today is a good day to pause and reflect - Oct 2 is Mahatma Gandhi's birth anniversary. Many years have passed since we lost his presence (most of us never having been alive during his time), and yet the lessons his philosophy and life offer continue to be relevant, in fact very strongly so.

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi was a very unusual leader – he was soft spoken, and was extremely down to earth. He found strength to lead from his purpose and values. He maintained that he had nothing new to offer, and the principles of truth, non-violence and love are old concepts. While this may be true, he was able to apply it on a scale and circumstances which has few parallels. There has been some scattered criticism recently on some of his views in the early stages of his life in South Africa. I believe a sensible response to this is from his grandson Rajmohan Gandhi who has traced how Mahatma Gandhi's philosophy, views and life experiences evolved over time.

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

No one is born a hero. If we regard Mahatma Gandhi as a unique figure in history, it is due to his evolution into a person of character in an extremely challenging period & tense environment. We can map his life to Joseph Campbell's hero's journey, with a call to adventure in his initial days in South Africa being a critical turning point, culminating finally in the end of the freedom struggle for India.

“Where there is love there is life.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatama Gandhi was an open minded learner, borrowing liberally from philosophies and practices around the world which he could apply to his life. Susan Cain in her excellent book “Quiet” also explores how Mahatma Gandhi is one of the most respected figures among the young. It is not difficult to understand why – he had no pretensions and was simplicity personified, other than his message of truth, love and non-violence resonating among the people.

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

Simplicity can be powerful – if backed by purpose, values and action. Mahatma Gandhi's life was indeed his message.

(Images from

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