It’s that time of the year when we celebrate the victory of good over evil during Dusshera. The ancient epics had much of the same issues we still navigate on a day to day basis - right from favoritism to going beyond the call of duty, and from working as a team to navigating Lakshman rekhas at work. Here are five instances that reminded us about workplace issues.
Bharata or Ram - Favoritism at the workplace
One of the most defining moments of Ramayana is the moment when Ram’s father King Dasharatha, in order to fulfill his promise to one of his queen Kaikeyi, crowns her son Bharata as the king of Ayodhya and sends Ram to the forest instead for fourteen years. This happens at a time when the whole kingdom was preparing for Ram to be crowned their new king. Many times at the workplace, the same situation plays out-a hardworking employee who should be rewarded and promoted for his work, is sidetracked and instead, the boss promotes his or her favourite. This can lead to discontent among employees and make them feel that they are working at an unfair workplace, leading to a loss in engagement, productivity and ultimately leading to attrition. While in Ramayana, Dasharatha was bound by his word that he had given to Kaikeyi earlier, bosses of today should not be limited by any such biases in order to ensure a fair workplace where everyone is inspired to give his best.
Hanuman's journey - A story of going beyond the call of duty
During the fight between Ram and Ravan’s army, Lakshman was so badly wounded in the battle it seemed that he would die before sun-rise.
The monkeys and bears decided that Hanuman must leap to the Himalayas and bring back the healing herb from the Medicine Mountain to save Lakshman's life. So Hanuman leapt over the ocean and travelled across India to the Himalayas. Once there, it took him a long time to find the fabled Medicine Mountain. Hanuman found it at last -covered with herbs, but he didn't know which one of them was the magic healing herb. So he wrapped his arms around the whole mountain, pulled it out of the ground and lifted it onto the palms of his hand. He then flew with the mountain back to Lanka.
This incident reminds us of a crucial aspect in the modern workforce: Employees going the extra mile in ways that contribute to their organization and their peer’s success. The behavior portrayed by Hanuman mirrors the role of your engaged employee who is willing to go beyond their formal roles by helping out coworkers, volunteering to take on special assignments, introducing new ideas and work practices, attending non-mandatory meetings, putting in extra hours to complete important projects, and so forth.
‘Lakshman rekha’: Protecting intellectual capital
In Ramayan, Lakshman draws the protective line famously known as ‘Lakshman rekha’, to protect Sita, his sister in law from the demons in the forest that could harm her. However, when the Rakshasa king Ravan comes disguised as mendicant, Sita unsuspectingly crosses the protective line and gets into trouble as Ravan abducts her.
‘Lakshman rekha’ in the context of the workplace and business symbolizes the security layer, which is important for the safety of intellectual capital. The ongoing trend of data breaches and the increasing privacy risks associated with social media continues to be a national and international concern. The world of work is becoming more and more digital and the data privacy is under threat. As organizations across the globe invest heavily in information technology (IT) to deploy the best of cyber defense capabilities, employees have to also comply with these rules and regulations for their company’s and their consumer’s benefit. With data breaches and cyber-attacks anticipated to increase in the due course of time, it is critical that employees become more aware about the ‘Lakshman rekha’ (data security), understand its importance and follow the protocols. When it comes to data protection, one must not cross the ‘Lakshman rekha’.
Agnipariksha - Navigating unfavorable conditions
Probably, one of the most talked about and controversy-generating instances from Ramayana, Agnipareeksha, stands out for its symbolism of surviving the most unfavorable conditions of all. Akin to Sita, who is the epitome of everything good in the world, many a times, the most high-performing, well-liked and gentle employee in the office also has to face the music--especially when the external conditions are not in their favor.
Perhaps, an undeserving employee gets promoted over a more deserving one. During times of restructuring, even the best employee might be let go. In order to prevent anyone from having to walk through fire in the workplace, organizational processes need to be fair and balanced towards all. The performance review systems can become more equal for all and robust.
Building Ram Setu and working as a team
As per the Hindu epic Ramayana, the Ram Setu Bridge was built by the Vanara Army so that Lord Rama and his army could cross the ocean to reach Lanka. As per Ramayana, Sita (the wife of Lord Rama) was kidnapped by Ravana, the rakshasa (demon) king of Lanka.
When the Vanara Army reached the seashore, they were not unable to figure out a way to cross the sea. Lord Ram motivated his army to have self-belief that they will turn the impossible into possible. Lord Ram told them about the importance of teamwork, and the entire army worked in a planned manner and found a solution to the problem. The significance of teamwork still remains as critical as it was then. An organization that functions as a team has the most chance of surviving in any given condition. And team work brings the best of minds, thoughts, ideas, and the workforce for any project.
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