Thursday, May 19, 2011

Work Commitment

A popular verse of the Gita advises "detachment" from the fruits or results of actions performed in
the course of one's duty. Being dedicated work has to mean "working for the sake of work,
generating excellence for its own sake." If we are always calculating the date of promotion or the
rate of commission before putting in our efforts, then such work is not detached. It is not
"generating excellence for its own sake" but working only for the extrinsic reward that may (or may
not) result.
Working only with an eye to the anticipated benefits, means that the quality of performance of the
current job or duty suffers ‐ through mental agitation of anxiety for the future. In fact, the way the
world works means that events do not always respond positively to our calculations and hence
expected fruits may not always be forthcoming. So, the Gita tells us not to mortgage present
commitment to an uncertain future.
Some people might argue that not seeking the business result of work and actions makes one
unaccountable. In fact, the Bhagavad Gita is full of advice on the theory of cause and effect, making
the doer responsible for the consequences of his deeds. While advising detachment from the avarice
of selfish gains in discharging one's accepted duty, the Gita does not absolve anybody of the
consequences arising from discharge of his or her responsibilities.
Thus the best means of effective performance management is the work itself. Attaining this state of
mind (called "nishkama karma") is the right attitude to work because it prevents the ego, the mind,
from dissipation of attention through speculation on future gains or losses.