Gratitude for the Way Things are

I am beginning to feel the absence of a cook during the past few days. She has gone on leave for a few weeks.

When the cook was present, I did not value her presence a great deal. So, one day last week when she went away after her work – not paying heed to my words to wait for a mechanic to attend to the TV – I seethed at her disobedience. I even thought I had enough of her.

The next morning as I was having my breakfast I got immersed in the taste of the food. Then gratitude and appreciation crept in – for the food and the person who made it so well. The disobedience of the cook no more mattered. My ego vanished and there was a new understanding.

Within a matter of a few hours, I was able to make the transition from being imprisoned in the cage of my ego to a state beyond the self, to the realm of the soul. From a state of siege, mistrust and defensiveness, I traveled the distance to freedom, expansiveness and trust.

My senses are the threshold to gratitude and happiness. When I let the wonder of every moment sink in through my senses, the presences fill me with completeness, making me awash with gratitude. When presences are experienced with appreciation, absences are rarely encountered.

On some days I wake up with feelings of unease. They are probably residues of the previous day’s preoccupations mainly concerning office. Sometimes they linger through the day or for several days. Often I shake them up a bit during my runs, and allow newer thoughts and realities to take hold of me.

These days, however, I do not let worries cripple me. I am learning increasingly to hold and examine them closely to find out the messages embedded in them. Often solutions emerge when I observe them dispassionately, without dread, even with a tinge of love.

It makes sense to develop a healthy sense of companionship with worries and problems as they are offshoots of my life’s longings. As I realize that pain and happiness are not deadly enemies but are part of a united and harmonious kaleidoscope of life, there is liberation born out of this understanding.

Yes, while there are those issues in the office that beg for attention and solution, there are also many gifts I am grateful for. We are getting known and keep getting business by word of mouth. Customers are delighted with what we do. And, we have a new office which we have taken a lot of care to design. It feels very good working from the new place. Then, there are the many people in the office who make good things happen.

The sense of incompleteness which cry for attention pertaining to the work we do, are only indicators of where I ought to focus my attention.

Getting our staff used to excellence in all they do is what I am here for. Excellence cannot be obtained through decrees, only by a new understanding and a state of being.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s following words reminds me not to focus on too much of doing, but on being.
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”

I create this longing for ‘the immensity of the sea’ by communicating endlessly about the vision, mission and values of the company. And about the stories of hope, aspirations and stretching that characterize our company. Surely, the brunt of my communication will revolve around offering services with a heart.

There is another thing I see myself communicating in everything I do and I am. That is the ability to demand higher standards from our teams.

It is very easy to let things drift in the office – like inattentive, self-absorbed parents who let their children run amok. It takes a lot of care, internal anchoring and discipline to demand higher standards.

Reading one of Seth Godin’s blog posts Demand higher standards recently, I sat transfixed as I read, “And the sooner you find a boss who pushes you right to the edge of your ability to be excellent, the better. Even if the boss is you.”

It is a scary thought if any of our employees confront me with, “Sir, raise your standards for me. I deserve it.”

Raising the standards for others in the organization cannot be stage managed. Nor can my ego dictate the terms of engagement. It is my state of being which I share with them with emotions and heart. And my effervescence and beliefs that others catch and hold.

Whether it is in dealing with a cook or the employees in my company there are two ways of declaring my presence to the world. One is through the limited, scheming ways of the ego. The other is through the spontaneous flow of thoughts and emotions springing from my depths. These find expression in every relationship I forge.

In that state, there is gratitude for the way things are. Before that, there is awareness.

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