Attracting talented and committed champions – Food for introspection

After an exciting last weekend (check the previous blog), Monday and Tuesday were earmarked for a Soul-to-soul and heart-to-heart sharing session to create a vision and organizational frame work for an institution of Education and Research. I just knew that session is at a retreat thirty five kilometers from Gurgaon. As I had to pick up one eminent gentleman from central Delhi and reach Gurgaon to car-lift Satya and Puneet, I left Noida home at 7:30am, and finally reached the Om Shanti Retreat at 10am. Only on reaching I realized that it was Northern India Regional centre of Rajayoga, the spiritual movement of Brahmakumaris(BK). All their centres spread across the globe actually come under one umbrella of World Spiritual university, with global headquarters in Mt. Abu.

Though I have been to premises of a few spiritual movements earlier too, this visit was a different one as we stayed in the premise for two days. This enabled me to experience the place more intimately. From the moment you enter the premises to the moment you exit, you are treated like a special guest, in the sense, there is always one Bhai or Behan, a BK, as they are also referred to is around to facilitate you. You step out of your private space, the BK is there to usher or guide you. Every guest is treated with the ‘seva bhav’, as if you are the guest visiting from the ‘SUPREME soul’, SHIVA, the all powerful inanimate incarnate. It resembles a retreat out of those ‘mythologic films’ that I have watched in my childhood, where the princess has birds, bees and flowers as her company in a tranquil and verdant surroundings.

The retreat accommodates 150 resident BKs, all in ubiquitous white attires, who have a regimented yet joyful schedule of starting the day at 4am and ending the day at 11pm. During the day, they involve in four meditation and interactive sessions that dwell on pursuit of the truth, apart from carrying out their responsibilities of cooking, gardening, generating solar power (200KV plant), conducting spiritual sessions, manning the guest houses etc.

The facility includes one academic block with 8 large classrooms, and two serene meditation structures that are very aesthetic and spiritual to just experience, wherein you are left to yourself to spend any number of hours. The place attracts scores of guests from around the world on any give day. We came across over 100 of them from as far places as Russia (a dance troupe), Portugal (yoga and meditation troupe) on one hand to Vishakhapatnam and Mysore (from other Rajayoga centres, BKs who dedicate their life) on the other, all in pursuit of exploring the internal journey.

As part of familiarization of the campus, we were put through a few mandatory processes (I felt) – visit to the hi-tech Rajyoga museum that has installations talking about journey of life and significance of the inner journey on day one, the second day an introductory session for Rajayoga and meditation, early in the morning for little over an hour. In all there were four BKs who facilitated our stay of two days at the retreat, all looking alike in their white attire, soft-spoken and eager to facilitate.

During interactions, I realized that each one has been in this movement for almost a decade, one of them since childhood. One striking discovery was that they were all professionals with varied experiences. The guide in the museum was a qualified engineer with a few years of experience in L & T, the guru for the meditation session was a physician (doctor) from Karnataka, the contact who arranged our stay there was an MBA from Narsee Monjee, and the constant companion was a postgraduate facilitated by the movement itself. Except for taking care of their stay and food, the movement does not pay a penny, and yet you see such an amazing commitment and passion. No wonder the whole campus was running like a clock-work, amazingly professional yet very spiritual and enlightening.

In fact, after experiencing the place, we four were discussing that a corporate has a lot to learn from the OM Shanti Retreat. I left the campus with many introspective thoughts. These thoughts took me back to another interesting journey that I went through in February.

On Feb 13, I received an email from one gentleman, Rakesh –

“Dear Mr. Sreenivasan,

This is Rakesh from BHUMI in Hyderabad. You had helped us with our Dronacharya & Ekalavya Mentoring Program in 2006. The program is in its 3rd year now and we have scaled up the program to reach out to 1000 Govt school children (most schools are in slums). We have also developed a unique framework and a specialized training program for mentors. We have also introduced Tutoring as part of the program this year.

We have just successfully concluded a 5-day transformational leadership workshop for the coaches , mentors and tutors of the program. The workshop is called “Leading to Light”.

Will keep you updated on the progress of the program

Need a small help from you. I copied my elder brother Naresh in this mail. He is an IIMB alumni from the class of 2008 and is currently with McKinsey in Mumbai. He is exploring franchisee options of Career Launcher and is looking at an advice from you. Would be grateful if you could help him with his queries.

Rakesh Reddy Dubbudu

To cut the story short, I had interacted with Naresh a couple of times and on Feb 21st, when I landed at Okhla HO, I was surprised to see Naresh in the office to sign as franchisee. He shared that he was inspired by his younger brother Rakesh’s work with slum children and wanted to get into education. Influenced by Rakesh, Naresh explored the portfolio of the work CL family is doing and was so moved by our work that he wanted to be part of our education movement. He has since jumped on to the CL journey. We have him on board, within ten days of start of his exploration.

So these two experiences – Naresh’s joining CL leaving McKinsey and the professionals devoting their life at Rajayoga movement, have lead me to a few introspective questions –

  1. What does talented people really look for in an organization?
  2. What makes them jump even without expecting a penny in return?
  3. If we articulate and anchor ours as a movement in educational transformation, will more capable lot move in?
  4. How do they feel motivated for so long doing the same thing day in – day out (as in the Rajyoga movement”?
  5. What sort of work in the education space if we pursue consistently we will have talented people flocking and championing the cause?
  6. What sort of environment will make each one thrive and excel?

Though every year a few capable lot move out of our movement and some do come back a while later, I for one is keen to retain and also attract many more to enrich, enliven and enable the movement for long time to come. Kindly comment and give feedback that may answer a few of my introspective questions.

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