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Is stress work related?



 In an IT company the Chief Executive received an enquiry for a project. He sent it down for a proposal. The team that worked on such projects did a full review and said that they could do the job in six months at a cost of a million dollars. The manager in charge of the team reviewed this and said the team can do this in 4 months at a cost of three quarter million dollars.

The proposal went up to a General Manager. The General Manager called everyone, gave them a pep talk and said, ‘We should be able to do this for half a million dollars in three months.’ Then he sent this as his proposal to the Chief Executive.

The Chief Executive called the client and told him that his company will deliver the product in two months at a cost of half a million dollars.

People who work in corporations can relate with this incident. People who make decisions and commitments are often out of touch with ground reality. Once such decisions are made their egos are in play. Anything can be sacrificed but not the ego! A simple study of corporate history can show how many companies have failed because of the egos of the people who led them.

I am told by some of my disciples in the corporate field about something called Level 5 Leadership. This is about those corporate leaders who put themselves behind the needs of the company and the people who work for them rather than placing their own ego needs first. Research has shown that the Chief Executives of companies that have been commercially successful consistently are hardly known to the outside world! These leaders are so humble, and focused inwards.

In life, there are two categories of people: those who are stressed and those who are not. Those who are stressed are those who wish to control life. They like to mould life in the way they wish it to be. They are focused only on themselves. Those who have no stress are those who flow with life. They accept without complaint what life offers them. Their focus is about what they can do for others. You feel the stress when you flow against the current, not when you flow with it. You lose yourself when you flow with the current.

You can choose to get stressed just by staying at home. It is not necessary to go out and work. Research shows that the highest frequency of divorces happens between the ages of forty and fifty. People tend to divorce more when children grow up and leave home. Till then children have been the buffers between their parents. When children leave home, husband and wife do not know what to say to each other. Silence creates stress!

Stress at the workplace starts with our education system. We start ranking children from a very young age. When in a group three people are graded as heroes, the rest of the group feels useless. We are taught to compete from a very early age. This comparison continues into the workplace and converts it into a battlefield.

A small story:

A crow was sitting in a tree doing nothing all day. A rabbit passed by, watched the crow and became envious. The rabbit asked, ‘Can I also sit like this doing nothing?’

The crow said, ‘Of course, please do if you wish to.’ So the rabbit sat under the tree and did nothing. Sometime later, a fox came by and ate the rabbit.

The moral is: to be sitting and doing nothing, you must be sitting very, very high up.

The so-called Human Resource programs specify that people must be categorized. I am told that in many corporations it is necessary to show that ten or fifteen percent of the people are bad performers. People are reduced to statistics! In order to survive people are forced to make others victims. This is probably why they call these offices ‘concrete jungles’!

As long as people are driven by fear and greed, they cannot be inspired. They can be controlled and made to perform routine tasks, but they cannot be inspired to do the impossible. This is the dilemma today’s corporations face. They need people to perform, but their kit of motivational techniques is not enough. It contains the whip and the carrot, nothing more.

Human beings are not satisfied merely with material things. Psychologists in the field of management recognize this and say that salaries and perquisites are dissatisfiers and not satisfiers. What they mean is that if people are poorly paid they are unhappy, but they do not become happy by being paid well. They look for something more. They look for recognition.

A well-known psychologist built a model of how human beings move up in their desires. This is now named after him as Maslow’s* hierarchy of needs. At the base of this pyramid are one’s survival needs of food, shelter and other material essentials. People then look for fulfillment in the society they live in, such as building a network and so on. They then seek love and attention. Then they look for respect, name and fame. After all this they are still dissatisfied. They feel that there is something still missing in their lives.

That something is within. Maslow* called it self-actualization. This is the zone where we flow free of stress. This is the zone of inner realization. This is the zone where you know that you are one with the universal energy. Whether you work at home, in an office or factory, or you do not work at all, you still look forward to this state where you are centered.

This is what we teach in our basic Life Bliss Program courses. The five levels of the pyramid that Maslow* drew correspond to the seven levels of energy that we carry within us. These seven centers of energy are called chakras* in the vedic system. Each chakra* represents an emotional state as well as a state of desire. As we fulfill the needs of each chakra* we move up in energy till we reach a state of fulfillment. It is a process many thousands of people have gone through with remarkable effect. We have taught these programs in many corporations worldwide. I call this a ‘Guaranteed Solution’.

I referred to the Level 5 Leadership concept earlier. If this concept is about developing people who are more concerned about what they can do to help others and the world and through that process themselves, then our Life Bliss Programs are a simple route to developing such Level 5 Leaders. Such leaders not only do not suffer from stress themselves, but they also do not induce stress in others.


* Maslow – American psychologist famous for his concept of the five layered hierarchy of needs.

* Chakras – Energy centers in the body. Literally means ‘wheel’ based on the experience of mystics who perceived these energy centers as whirlpools of energy. There are seven major chakras along the spine: muladhara, swadhishthana, manipuraka, anahata, vishuddhi, ajna and sahasrara.


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