If you ask an internet savvy youth working in a well known MNC what Team Work is, invariably the answer would be– The process of working collaboratively with a group of people in order to achieve a goal. This is a good definition of team work but not complete. We need to go beyond the conference room definition of a team to understand the meaning of team work.
What about the Indian Cricket team, trying to chase a huge total set by the opponent and then achieving it, with each team member contributing his best? Or, what about a group of 8th graders in school coming up with an amazing project on computer IVR system and winning the inter-school project on electronics? In a more domestic setup, can we think of a team comprising of a mother-in-law and daughters-in-law who toil to prepare a good meal and are successful in presenting it to the guests at the right time and in the best possible way and gather accolades from all family members! Isn't that a demonstration of exemplary team work?
Apart from having the required skills and appropriate knowledge for the job, each person in the team should be well informed of the collective goal and output of the work. Whatever I am planning to do should be in line with the final output to be produced by the team. Imagine ten labourers painting a brick wall. Each one has been given a set of 10 rows of bricks to paint. Suppose the first labourer completes his work and paints the 10 rows in some flowery colour, while the second labourer comes and paints the next ten rows in solid colours. And the next painter in some other colour mismatching that of first two... So basically all painters do their individual parts well, but the collective goal of painting the wall fails. In a team, all members should have a broader perspective of doing the work best so that the team's goal can be achieved. If narrow minded people are prevalent, they will just be bothered on how to showcase their individual work as best.
A team prospers through sharing– sharing of knowledge, responsibilities and credit. Broadness of mind is cultivated through selfless service, which means work done not for name, fame or money but for sheer love towards God and mankind. When individuals participate in selfless service, they nurture such qualities of sharing even at their workplace and home.
Let's take one more example of team work. In a grand feast, ten helpers are given the task of chopping vegetables. The vegetables include potatoes, tomatoes, cabbage, etc. There are some raw jackfruits as well which are given to two of the helpers. While the rest of the vegetables are chopped off fast, jackfruits take pretty long to get peeled and cut. So once the potatoes, tomatoes and other vegetables are cut, all the choppers get together and start peeling the jackfruits and deliver all chopped vegetables at the right time. Team work asks for such an attitude where each member considers the entire set of work as one's own. The team doesn't rest or pause till each task is completed and the team's goal is achieved.
- If we think on this closely, it is easier said than done. We do the task assigned to us with complete dedication because we feel there our individual recognition is at stake. However, when it comes to assisting someone else to complete the team's task, often we are not motivated enough as it's not about our reputation any more. Owning up to the team's concern requires greatness in character. And character, as they say, is not built in a day. Character is made strong and resilient by meditating upon one's soul. This gives an individual a chance to introspect and own up to one's own flaws and also those of the team.
So we see that even though all our efforts go into skill-building; like, communication skills, technical skills, networking skills, management skills, etc; we somehow don't give as much importance to character building as we should. Which one do we think remains with us longer– skill or character?
Let us now think of situations where a perfectly collaborated team starts to split. This is when the members start pointing fingers at each other and the blame game begins. People allege each other of misinterpretation, negligence, etc. and the task remains unresolved. In such situations, more often than not, each person involved has his own share of flaw; everyone could have saved the error if they were more meticulous and vigilant. However, none takes it up as his mistake. Because acceptance of one's own error is marked as a sign of weakness and in the cut throat competition we cannot afford to appear weak. We do not realise that what truly matters is the strength of intellect and not the mass of ego. Admitting to one's mistakes builds one's strength of mental faculty and diminishes the ego, which helps one in moving up in any sphere.
Truly speaking, practical spirituality is the sole answer to the above problem. When we start taking small steps on the path of spirituality, ego weans away and gradually the inner power becomes stronger. Spirituality makes an individual resort to tolerance and constructive criticism. And, when such individuals come together as a team, they do not land up in blame games in the event of flaws. One may note that practical spirituality is nothing but meditating upon one's inner light revealed by a 'true' spiritual mentor. Moreover, spirituality is not a matter of practice in a specific phase or time in our day to day life. Rather, it percolates all spheres of our lives, irrespective of whether we are alone, with family or at the workplace working in a team. The more one practices on it, the more it empowers him with the divine qualities of sharing and loving.
One important factor which keeps a team together is clarity and openness in communication. Communication, as is often misinterpreted, is not just exchange of words. It is also exchange of thoughts and vibrations among all team members. If we look around, we see that almost everyone knows how to coax another with sugar coated words and tone. We often hear these phrases in the corporate world– the art of selling the client or conversational skills to use in interviews. What in reality these phrases mean is, irrespective of good or bad we may think of another person, our words and intonation should be honey-like-sweet and our body language should be impeccable. Purity and positivity of thoughts towards ones team members is never given as much importance. However, in reality, thoughts carry more value than words. If we think negatively about someone, unknowingly we send out negative vibrations to others even though we speak nice words. Vibrations reach faster and stronger and have more impact than words. So, if negativity prevails at workplace, then definitely communication is hindered.
- One cultivates positive thinking by accepting positive thoughts through spiritual discourses or satsangs. Spiritual discourses act like cleansing agents for our mind. They teach us how to remain humble in pain, how not to inflate the ego in affluence. This is positivity, in deeds and not mere words. When we listen to such discourses again and again, positive thoughts ooze out from us and whoever we come in contact with, receives the positivity of our minds. In reality, this is clarity and openness in communication. So we see, though communication skills classes teach us how to use words in an articulate manner, only spirituality can teach us how to attain positivity in communication.
- Team work demands respect for team members. In fact, respect is something natural, as all individuals respect themselves. When we say, I respect you, it means I trust you and what you say or do carries value. Each member in the team needs to value the other's words and deeds. This way mutual respect and trust are established in the team. Each member in the team feels valued and this ensures best output for the team as each member puts in his best.
Divine Knowledge makes one see the light of divinity within oneself and within all fellow human beings. This suffuses respect and goodwill for all. It makes one see other's perspective first and empathise with one's co-workers. After all, aren't a team yet another version of a society? Just like we maintain camaraderie with our family members, friends, neighbours etc, we also need to be empathetic to the people we work with.
The inquisitive: What you say is correct. …But, if we do not think how would we work and function in society? If we do not apply our minds, how would we achieve success in life?
Oh! You are perhaps not able to touch the appropriate nerve of the issue. Dear brother, thinking or discussing is not at all wrong. What is wrong is unnecessary thinking. We refer to unproductive thinking as ‘noise’. This noise is not conducive to your way to success; rather, it obstructs the path of success. When a scientist creates an electric circuit, the biggest factor involved in it is the ‘noise factor’. What does this noise indicate? This is known as the ‘undesirable electrical disturbance’ or the avoidable obstruction. In the presence of such disturbances, the circuit will not accept the signals of current properly; it will not allow it to pass through in the right measure, nor will it give the desired output. Within the circuit of your mind, when the web of useless thoughts leads to the ‘traffic jam’, you are unable to take proper decisions. You can never shape yourself up as a right-thinking individual with proper sense of discrimination and with a reasonable understanding of the issues.
The inquisitive: You mean to say one thing at a time— work while you work; otherwise, allow the mind to take rest. Keep the mind away from the frivolous noises, means ‘thoughts’?
Yes, exactly so! Our mind needs to be away from the small puddles and take a deep plunge into the internal oceanic depths. Don’t you desire so? At least for some time in a day… Revelling in that deep silence…deep...so deep as the Atlantic Ocean where ripples of thoughts are not present! Not even the vibrations of thought-currents… Sh…Sh…Shss…Sh … complete silence!… where you enjoy merging into that eternal zero (fullness!) state... you journey within… forget yourself… even your body-consciousness is lost…. you feel weightless… peace… peace… and peace at last… nothing but peace… neither happiness nor sorrow… you are merged in bliss and that all-pervading bliss engulfs you totally!
The inquisitive: Very pleasing to the ears. But, is it possible to practically enjoy such a blissful state for even some moments every day?
Yes of course, it is possible! To lead us to such a state of eternal bliss, spiritual teachers invite us from time to time. Mahatma Buddha used to tell his disciples often, ‘Practice peace!’ Sufi Saint Rumi proclaimed, “Do not entangle into the prison of fear. Practice Silence— get yourself liberated from the imprisonment of frightening thoughts. Practice Silence.” Remember, sealing the lips and abstaining from talking don’t mean you are silent. “Manah Mrityum Maunam”– When the mind dies, silence sprouts! Death of the mind means: controlling the mind to the extent of thoughtlessness. A state in which no useless or disturbing thought is permitted to evolve! Through this thoughtless or say mindful state, the fountain of bliss emerges!
The Inquisitive: Tell me please how can that state be attained?
To reach that state, genuine Spiritual Gurus have reiterated that one and only Eternal Technique (Brahm Gyan), which is known with different names. Lord Krishna named it “Rajayoga.” Sage Patanjali gave it a more academic expression by saying, “Yog Chit Vritti Nirodh.” Upanishads proclaimed it as “Atma Gyan.”
After being blessed with Brahm Gyan, by concentrating on the place between the brows (where one applies tilak), one can commence the journey of peace to reach into the depths within and seek eternal bliss.
The Inquisitive: Why seek Brahm Gyan for concentrating on the place between the brows? We can do it straightaway without seeking someone’s help!
What will be the effect if you concentrate on the closed door? Your eyes will become tired and exhausted. You won’t be benefited by such a futile exercise. Forget reaching the depths, you will not be able to even peep within! That’s why those who make self-efforts for meditation often complain of headaches and tiredness.
Brahm Gyan activates the ‘Divine Eye’ situated at the centre of your two physical eyes. Only when the perfect spiritual Guru graciously opens this divine door, you are given the passage to the depths of the latent kingdom of divinity within you. The issue is simple and straightforward. The door opens and you are able to move within. In that blissful world, thoughts are not admitted. Bliss alone reigns! One finds brilliant light all around! There you find your Lord’s lap! The peace of Mahatma Buddha and the Eternal Silence of Rumi expresses itself there! This is that mighty Atlantic Ocean, diving into which you begin to experience— Aum, Peace, Peace, Peace, Aum…