By Sirajuddin Aziz
Introspection is an ability. To some it comes as nature’s gift but to many the art has to be learnt. The couplet of Edgar Guest aptly describes the ability to introspect, ‘I have to live with myself and so, I want to be fit for myself to know; I want to be able as days go by; always to look myself straight in the eye and fool myself as I come and go; into thinking that nobody else will know; the kind of man I really am; I don’t want to dress up myself in sham.’
As a manager do you see in the mirror that roaring lion that you pretend and think you are; or are you that real timid cat on the hot tin roof of life, wanting to decide, whether to stay put or jump to professional death. Introspect to check, stop and recheck, if the vehicle of your life is being driven by you and your values or are you just seated, in the driving seat but the wheels are in the hands of other. There is a Persian proverb, ‘he who knows himself already knows his Lord.’
Self discovery is the key to managing others. Discover who you are? Discover your failings, strengths and weaknesses. I will, here redo, the old English dictum, a man is known by the company he keeps, to, a manager is known by his inner persona--- Many managers live in a make believe assumption that their inner persona by their foxy intellect, can remain cloaked and shrouded in obscurity. Nay, the inner persona, gets reflected with every word said and every deed done and the entire environment gets to know --- The hidden gets exposed.
Because the ‘hidden’ will find its revelation to others it is significant for every manager to hasten and discover his inner persona and then harness its potential through adequate feeding of positive thought and energy.
In the ‘Wisdom of Confucius’ there is a remark that states, ‘the mature person looks into his own heart and respects what is unseen and unheard. Nothing is more manifest than the hidden; nothing is more obvious than the unseen. Thus the mature person pays attention to what is happening in his inmost self.’ We, as managers, must know who we are? Before beginning to teach or leads others. ‘Let every man first become himself that which he teaches others to be. He who hath subdued himself may help subdued others. One’s own self is the most difficult to master. Observe all men; thyself most.’
A manager, who hasn’t discovered himself, will never be able to accomplish anything worthwhile or noticeable. Infact nothing great can be achieved without the benefit of introspection of the self. Ralph Emerson is quoted to have said, ‘there is no defeat except from within. There is really no insurmountable barrier, save your own inherent weakness of purpose. This failure to discover ‘yourself’ will turn you away and giving a weak resolve and resolution.
Largely the human kind constantly deceives themselves inherent power, importance of skills and ability. That measure, is a sure failure, when managers at the initiation of things, believes to himself, that he has honestly and truthfully himself as evaluated, his skill set knowledge etc. while watching any of the national geographic or animal channels, we must evaluate and observe and learn minutely; no lion pretends to be own cleverer; that the fox; no zebra thinks or acts like the ‘king of the jungle; no tortoise think it can run faster than the hare. Animals therefore are significantly intelligent that they can relate to their divinely inspired traits, as against human (read Managers) who relate to what they are not and end up showing without knowledge to themselves and to the entire team, who they actually are!
Introspection is not merely about discovering inherent latent or visible weaknesses; it is also equally about removing from mind those limitations, of capping the magnitude of possessed abilities that are largely self imposed. Those who believe in themselves having indulged into ‘introspection’ are the ones who will succeed. Those who remain ignorant of their natural power of instinct and intuition are essentially individuals who have either forfeited their blessings or have had them mortgagee to be used by mortgagee to his advantage rather than the mortgagor.
Evaluate your life and existence, are you happy with it or not? Are you content with your professional pursuit or not? Are you working with enthusiasm or not? And several of the answers to such questions will lead you to indulge in positive introspection. Again to quote Ralph Emerson, Ralph Waldo ‘the art of being yourself at your best is the art of unfolding your personality into the man you want to be….’or, ‘Self-confidence get it from within. Nobody can give it up to you… a little boy was asked how he had learnt to skate with such skill and dexterity, oh! By getting up every time I fell down.’ He replied…. Self-trust is the first secret of success. ‘But to have self trust, truthful introspection, is an absolute necessity. All progress is from within. All fortune lies within yourself but you have to dig deep into the mines to excavate itself of its hoardings and reserves.
Luck, fate, destiny, opportunity are all singles! ‘Perennially in your life, it is only by design and hard-work that you can be friend them for a life-long marriage/friendship. Shakespeare had written, ‘go to the bosom knock there and ask your heart what it doth know. That is introspection.
Managers think their opinion is never wrong. Each priest praises his own relics. Don’t let the fox within you become the jury at the trial of the goose that you are - it may leave you permanently impaired.
A manager who has true knowledge of himself delivers to himself an unmapped territory within that merely needs a travel of discovery. A manager who doubts himself kills his and all other member’s initiative. If the misleading and mischievous friend of yours, aptly named ‘the flatterer’ rushes by your side while you as a leader of people are introspecting, know that he will fill you with egotism that tells you, ‘you are the best’, and that’s the end of an attempt to self evaluate.
When a manager faces himself he has no team member in between to have enlightenment about self. Expunge and set aside all disillusionments. A wise manager who knows all but himself is indeed a fully certified fool.
I will end this piece with Edgar’s stanza just I quoted at the start if it, ‘I can never hide myself from me; I see what others may never see; I know what others may never know; I can never fool myself; and so, whatever happens I want to be self-respecting and conscience free.