As we drive up the hill to the mountain town of Kodaikanal in Tamil Nadu, India, we will pass a hamlet called “Perumal Malai” (Hill of God). In this hamlet there is Bodhi Zendo, a retreat center that promotes meditation practice according to Buddhist tradition. The center was founded by a priest, Father Dr. Ama Samy.
During one of my several visits to the center, I met Father Dr. Ama Samy and asked him to help me reshape my thought process, which was then clouded by worry and fear.
After listening to me, he took me to his library and offered me two books to read. One was a book called “Wellbeing – The New Mood Therapy” by David D Burns and the other was “Six Pillars of Self-Esteem” by Nathaniel Branden.
The book ‘Feeling Good’, based on Aaron T Beck’s theory of cognitive therapy, has helped me change my thoughts and reduce debilitating anxiety. Nathaniel Branden’s book helped me understand the importance of building psychological help in myself and cultivating positive relationships.
“Wellbeing” was written around the 1980s, while “Six Pillars of Self-Esteem” came out around 1994.
Sankar (Sankarasubramanyan Ramamoorthy), who prefers to be called that, has written what I think is a crucial contribution to building relationships at work. It’s timely and immensely relevant.
His book, titled “When You Feel Good, You Work Well” may seem clichéd at first glance. However, if one goes beyond the title and starts with what Sankar wrote as being well known and instead delves into the book, several lessons in understanding organizational culture, the science of organizations in the current context, and the recognition that relationships lead to, will lead to guided The results, and not the other way around, will influence us enormously.
As a backdrop for the book, Sankar decided to write a heartfelt story about Citicorp Overseas Limited (COSL), an organization that established a solid foothold in India as early as 1984 when the IT industry was still in its infancy would have.
Sankar was a member of the organization between 1989 and 1995 and had an insight into the phenomenal relationship-building practices that the organization promoted.
His way of writing the book is in the form of a well-told story where you can hear several voices from the past that helped integrate COSL into the organization that it was and became.
Many organizations today have adopted practices that COSL first explored in the early 1980s, including an open office environment with cubicles for each person, a desktop for each person, social gatherings, and more.
In 1984 India was still a closed economy and organizations operated what Sankar calls the “machine paradigm of leadership”, which means “getting results through people”. The focus was on results and people were a resource to get those results.
COSL turned the pyramid on its head and reformulated the paradigm: “People hug and results will follow automatically.”
The COSL experience Sankar talks about was, “It’s not about getting results and creating a great place to work, it’s about getting results by building a great place to work.”
The book, available on Amazon in the Kindle edition, was written by Sankar through the lockdown and was published this year (2021).
The term VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity & Ambiguity) is an acronym that has been used for a number of years and the most revealing effects of which are only now being seen and experienced by us during this pandemic.
The pandemic cuts at the very roots of our existence and the need to hold and hug one another, whether in for-profit or nonprofit organizations, or even in social institutions, has become imperative.
Sankar’s insightful book offers several lessons, many of which are practiced by organizations in one form or another. Most organizations that seem to emphasize the need for positive human interaction tend to derail when faced with what is happening around them, for example, in the form of the pandemic.
As a reader, my most important aspect of the book is the unique thought, “I have little control over what happens outside of me and only the choice of how to respond.”
Sankar offers multiple points of contact that each of us can actually use as a guide as we hack through the confusion, dilemma, fear, and pain we are currently experiencing.
Sankar was a voting and serious practitioner of Appreciative Inquiry, a method that mandates that organizations recognize life-giving powers, abundance, and abundance rather than addressing limitations, poverty, and scarcity.
While this methodology has been in vogue for over 20 years, its immense value and approach seems extremely relevant at this point.
Sankar’s deep conviction and conviction of recognizing human potential, nourishing it, nurturing it and giving it space to expand is expressed loud and clear in every word he has set in writing.
His book provides the reader with an opportunity for self-examination and helps the reader realize the need to focus on one’s goodness and be able to expand their wings with the belief and conviction that only then can dreams come alive if they are promoted.
Sankar’s book comes to us at a time when we are inundated with data and information on the number of people infected with COVID, the death toll and a complete lack of understanding of how to fight this disease. So Sankar’s book comes to us when we need anchors to stabilize ourselves, to attach ourselves to positive thoughts and to recognize that after ‘the darkest hour is dawn’.
His offering through the book, I understand, is summarized in seven very simple lessons, including:
1. Phenomenology (the need to create mindful awareness).
2. The concept of figure and floor (recognizing the context of each situation in relation to its background).
3. To be in the here and now (to be fully present for what is happening).
4. Able to experiment (to allow us to be divergent, to be counter-intuitive, and yet see the contours of our surroundings).
5. Realizing that life tends to “draw energy” (hence the need to neutralize toxicity if it is sensed or present).
6. To recognize that the whole of reality is co-created (relationships are only established through an I and you approach, i.e. an I & YOU approach, and not through an I and an IT approach, i.e. a subject-object approach Approach, promoted).
7. Believe in the goodness of people (because what you believe is what you see).
In his play ‘Edward II’ the playwright Christopher Marlowe writes’ The wheel of life has taken its course and it has now reached the nadir. Whichever way you look at it, it can only go up now. ‘
Sankar’s books assure us that in such troubled times, as we consider what is possible and what will help individuals, organizations and institutions align their approach to people with what supports, enriches and supports the storm that is now raging rewarded, enabled can shake us, but not stir.
(The author is an organizational and behavioral consultant. He can be contacted at [email protected])