Lessons for Women Entrepreneurs from Ramayana, this Diwali

Diwali, also known as the “Festival of Lights” is the biggest festival celebrated all over India. This is a much-awaited time which people look out for when they take a break, and have a good time. Tracing the origin of the word “Deepawali” which consists of two words – “Deep” means “light” and “avail” means “a row”. Hence, “Deepawali” means “a row of lights”.

With a history dating back to ancient India Diwali is considered to be an extremely important harvest festival. Many believe that Diwali is the occasion when Lord Vishnu married the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi. Others believe Diwali is to be celebrated as goddess Lakshmi’s birthday. Ancient Hindu tradition commemorates Diwali as the return of Lord Rama, his wife Sita and brother Lakshman to Ayodhya, after fourteen-year exile. The return of Lord Rama was celebrated by the people of Ayodhya as they lit the entire kingdom with earthen ‘diyas’ and fireworks. Two of the most worshipped figures during this time are the Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Rama. People pray for a happy and prosperous future to Goddess Lakshmi. Lord Rama is welcomed with lights and crackers on his return, after vanquishing his nemesis Ravana.

While Lord Rama justifiably is venerated as the architect of good over evil, there is one entity who was key to the battle – the great Lord Hanuman, whose contribution is usually underplayed. However, none can deny that he was the force behind which finally won Lord Rama the battle. Women entrepreneurs can learn from this role that Lord Hanuman plays, as an advisor or chief operating officer, in guiding their businesses.

Women entrepreneurs should think about how to divide their dreams into simple, achievable goals at regular intervals just as Hanuman would have thought through the battle. This was done by Hanuman, so that Rama could vanquish the ‘evils’ associated with Ravana and take Sita back,without worrying about her safety in the future. In fact, all this will help you to escort Goddess Lakshmi into your business.

Women entrepreneurs must imitate Hanuman, when he thought about the safety of his team. Just as he was the one who took a leap of faith to cross the proverbial Palk Straits to meet their goals, you must plan accordingly. And, just as he was the one who had the responsibility of carrying the proverbial “sanjeevani” tree, you must come upfront at times of a business exigency.

Despite exhaustive strategies and large amounts of resources at his disposal, Ravana lost the war, mainly because of the kind of leader he was. Arrogant, distant, and fear-inducing leaders who leave no room for feedback might often take the team down with them. Ravana operated on the assumption that he could never be wrong, and considered the world his playground, making the rules himself, which did cost him and his empire. Women entrepreneurs can learn from this. By nature, they should be accommodative, approachable, and humble enough to consider each and every member of the team. Most importantly, they must be able to accept  their mistakes and be willing to learn from them.

They must know how to build team spirit. Just as Lord Rama, Lakshman, Hanuman and Sita formed an efficient team, women entrepreneurs as leaders must ensure that they must make their team work towards the single planned goal.

Today, we hear about the problem of áttrition’ in companies. It is essential to understand the reason behind which people leave. Had Ravana taken a moment to assess the reasons why Vibhishan left his side, he could have probably averted his fate. What’s ironic is that Vibhishan played a detrimental role in the downfall of Ravana, and similarly every talented employee that leaves an organisation is an opportunity lost. It is important for a woman entrepreneur to understand whether any employee failed to adapt or did not have the prerequisite skills, or even whether the organization did not provide him with opportunities to grow and learn?

Nal and Neel, though made a fleeting appearance, play a critical part in the tale. Had it not been for them, the army would never have had crossed the sea, and Ramayana wouldn’t have been the same. Hanuman, who was speedy and agile, was chosen to complete the impossible task of collecting medicine for an injured Laxman against time. But a closer look reveals that all these critical characters were just soldiers in the army, until it was decided that their skills should be utilised for other important purposes. How the organisation uses the varied skill sets, and networks, of its employees is very important in the larger picture. So, women entrepreneurs must take note and utilize the employees efficiently.

It becomes essential to revisit larger goals and organisation objectives, and ensure they are in line with the initial vision. Had Ravana taken time out to audit the losses he and his army had undertaken, and factored in the loss of his brother and son, as opposed to the goal he was chasing, given the wisdom he had, he would probably have taken a different decision. Thus, it becomes critical to assess deliverables, in terms of input and output of resources, time and effort, periodically, to change strategies and prevent wastage of resources.

So, mythology, has several subtle and explicit lessons on how we should lead our lives, and they are also equally applicable to a modern workplace. Diwali is, thus also, a gentle reminder of how people are at the centre of organisations and workplace, and how we need to remind ourselves of the lessons that such stories teach us.

Remember our great mythological characters in The Ramayana and celebrate the lessons they have passed down to us.

If the leaders in Ramayan could stake their life’s ambitions, so why can you, as a women entrepreneur?

 

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