Leaders Transform

Updated: Nov 13

Here is a story which I read from one of the articles of Prof. Debashish Chatterjee, IIM, Lucknow. It is quite interesting:

A poor farmer in China was in great distress. He was a peace-loving person who had to share a single room with four noisy roommates. Beside, there were a couple of stray dogs and a few noisy chickens and ducks in the neighbourhood that made it difficult for him to sit quietly or meditate. Depressed, he travelled a long distance to his Zen master to find a way out.


Listening to his tale of woe, the compassionate Master said: "If you listen to me carefully, I can try to see what we can do." The farmer was all ears.

The Master said: "Go back to your village and invite inside your room the stray dogs, the chickens as well as the ducks. Let them all stay with you for a week besides your four friends. Then come back to me."

Although he was shocked and surprised by his Master's strange prescription, the farmer reluctantly agreed to do as he was asked. The farmer came back after a week. He was in a pitiable state; his hair was disheveled, his clothes were torn to shreds, his eyes were red from lack of sleep and his body smelt of animal dung.

He looked tearfully at his Master and said: "The experience was worse than hell-those animals and birds and their week-long company-let my fate not befall anyone!"


The Master said: "Everything will be all right. Just go back to your village and leave the animals outside your door-where they were before. Then, come back to me after another seven days.

"The farmer again did what he was told. But this time when he came back-there was a bright radiance in his face. His eyes shone and he told the Master: "I have never known so much peace before. Just my four friends and I. No animals in the room. We all slept well. And my meditation was deep."

Many years later, the farmer himself became a Master. When people asked him how he had found peace, he said: "The journey was indeed memorable. It was like taking great pains in breaking into your own house by climbing a ladder and smashing a windowpane-and realizing later that the door of the house was open. All you needed to do was to pull in the door towards you rather than push it.”


Can you identify what is the moral of the story?

Leaders Do Not Conform, But They Transform.

"Conquering others requires force; conquering oneself requires strength." - Lao-Tzu, a noted Zen Master

Transformation of mind and behaviour calls for strength. Transformation is not a meager change. While change could be at the physical level, transformation occurs at the inner level. It is a paradigm shift in the inner conscious level. Once an individual transforms, all that bothers him from the external level do not continue to torture him.

"Flower that is single need not envy the thorns that are numerous." - Rabindranath Tagore

Flowering is transformation. It spreads fragrance. Leaders should transform. They should spread the fragrance of the beauty of the self to the entire community. What about academic leaders?


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About the Author

G. Balasubramanian is the Chairperson of Board of Adivsors to International Council for School Leadership (ICSL)

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