Monday, July 28, 2008

...then you win

There's an old saying by Mahatma Gandhi:

'First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.'


I had an experience these last several weeks reminded me of this quote.  Since the start of my consulting work experience, I've had several folks tell me that I should wait a bit before 'being myself', which I took to mean laying off the hugs/meditation/smile cards/irreverence.  however, i've been exceedingly poor at executing that request.

This last engagement I was on lasted 3 weeks.  It was really intense, which basically means 8am-midnight (at least) happens often.  Consequently, I got to know my team-members pretty well since we were pretty much locked in 1 room the entire time. 

Well, I have this habit of taking a moment of silence before meals, and since every single meal was with my team, they happened to be there during this time.  Initially, what I was doing was ignored completely.  It was as if I wasn't there, and they simply began eating.

After 4 or 5 days of this, the snickers started.  I would open my eyes and see someone putting bunny ears over my head and another laughing so hard he had tears in his eyes.  I just kept silent, flashed a smile and moved on.

These types of jokes lasted a couple more days before one afternoon after silence for lunch I opened my eyes and was met with a pointed question: do you think what you're doing does any good?  The rest of the guys started trying to breakdown the reasoning for why I sat in silence prior to meals.  Are you doing it for religion?  You know nobody is happier for you sitting there quietly, right?  Don't you think you're wasting time just sitting there?  what exactly are you doing?  I responded to everything, one by one.

The next day, the questions continued, as did the day after that, but the following week, on the monday of the last week of the engagement, I opened my eyes after dinner to find the table silent and everyone with their eyes closed.  During the course of this last week, we all engaged in conversation about the nature of the mind, we meditated during the course of the workday, and the last day I read a chapter from the 'Tao Te Ching' prior to our dinner.  As I left the workplace on the last day of the engagement, there were hugs all around as we all expressed gratefulness for the opportunity to connect through this experience.  The job got done, and got done well, but the experience was not limited to just that.

Live your values and folks respond, who knew?


pavi said...

Smiling Big after reading that entry! Inspiring to know you're being the change regardless of who's watching -- and that while you can take Birju out of the silence you can't take the silence out of Birju :-)

ha bus...

Viral said...

whoooda thunkit?! that's a great story ... i could totally see it ... just yesterday i had a random conversation with someone at work about meditation for like 15 mins, and it totally came out of the blue ... it's neat to just serendipitously share that space :-)

thanks for writing about this!



Anonymous said...

I will follow suit. Thanks for sharing it with us.

yasmine said...

great story, birju, and made me smile so much as well! =)

loved this part:
The job got done, and got done well, but the experience was not limited to just that.

Unknown said...

just today someone told me that dealing with other people's resistance/negativity is a process that continues until everyone decides to grow from it i.e. be still with it. this is such a great story about how stillness is contagious! :-)

Pancho said...

To read your story inspired me so much hermano Birju, that here is what I usually send out to the Beloved Earth Community before eating (Love is the breath of the Cosmos the secular-Gandhian-Anarchist said ;-)):

May the Universe of Love protect us.
May the Universe of Love nourish us.
May the Universe of Love strengthen us.
May we realize the Universe of Love.
May we live with love for all.
May we live in peace with all.
May he see only what is good for all.
May we hear only what is good for all.
May we serve you Universe of Love for all our lives.
May we spread your love, peace and harmony all over the Planet.

I love you hermano Birju. Thanks for being the change :-)