Meaningful Engagement

In differentiating between aimless activities routine and result oriented pursuit , in my popular management intervention product : “Busyness to Business” ; I have often used the phrase – ‘ Meaningful engagement ‘ . In “Made to Mother” – another of my unique Leadership Intervention I have said that Maids get busy , whereas Mothers – who work for no less hours , are meaningfully engaged
While most instinctively relate to it , some of you felt interested for me to elaborate on what is meant by ‘ Meaningful engagement ‘ . Hence this note
To my mind , meaningful engagement happens when 4 components come together in sequence
o Desired destination – when there is a well defined , desired Goal – your clarity on what you want to achieve . This anchors you & gets you on a path
o Directed efforts — There exists a clear plan ( the path to your destination ) and working to a plan . There is a definite ‘ Cause & Effect ‘ to what you do . There is no adhockism . That you achieve something or not , is a result of your effort , not a part of your luck . This brings in predictability . It’s like playing a game of Dart with your eyes open v/s playing in a dark rook with your eyes closed
o Progression on milestones – Regardless of its pace , every moment is in the forward direction , neither lull nor going in reverse , every moment adds something , has a meaning to be there . Intrinsic to it is that there are pre set milestones , against which progress is measured . This helps you strengthen / refine your plan
o Self fulfillment : Whether at destination or while on journey when you have a sense of fulfillment , you know that you are engaged in something meaningful — something worthwhile . Success is not just in the outcome , but how FULL you feel from inside


“ Aukaat “ Apani – Apani

  • The (Hindi) word ‘Aukaat ‘is a very useful word – though currently much maligned, due its usage in a derogatory way.
    • Many use it specifically to ‘ remind ‘ some one of his / her low standing , to denigrate , to humiliate – to express self , relative hierarchical superiority
  • To me, whatever ‘meaning ‘– is what we attach to a word. Words by themselves are only neutral carriers – we load a meaning on them ; hence a word per say is neither good or bad , it’s only an obedient tool to express what the master wants to
  • Aukaat, actually is a very beautiful concept. To me , it is indicative of a ‘ Boundary ‘ … boundary in itself being neither good nor bad , it just defines the ‘ expanse ‘ & where it ends
  • In life , to progress ; it is not much about what you don’t have it is more about we knowing what we have , how much does it stretch & consequentially therefore , where does it end – exactly like little kingdoms we had earlier , each having its boundary ( Nations being little kjngdoms of today ) or ‘ territory ‘ of an animal in a jungle !
    • For Peace & Progress, size was not as important as to know the boundary, so that there is at least no intentional encroachment into someone else’s territory. Within each’s own / independent territory each had enormous scope to create own ‘Heavens ‘….. Didn’t people in Singapore transformed, what was a small marshy land?
  • The same is true for an individual, to know ‘what is there ‘& ‘where it ends ‘. To excel in life it is not about what you don’t have which is a barrier , but not knowing about it – which leads to misadventure & hence a disaster
  • In fact it is my conviction that only when you (or only those who) know your ‘play area ‘ & where it ends, is when you really excel. Those who lack this knowledge ( actual word – ‘ Awareness ‘ ) remain directionless , dabble in many things , often clueless ( like playing Darts in the dark with eyes closed ) and end up at much suboptimal levels , topped up with frustration — not because they lacked in ability , but because they did not know about their abilities & their limitations
  • That is where I come back to the beautiful concept of “ Aukaat “ , which makes us aware of out\r boundaries / our limitations , so that we can play, within our play area maximizing on our strengths and thereby excel in whatever we do
  • There are examples & examples of successful application of this concept – both Positive & Negative
    • Sachin Tendulkar is a Glorious example of excelling in his strength area & not venturing beyond that boundary – it was wise for him to give up Captaincy to focus on & excel in Batting – Hundred 100s .
    • On the other hand there is an example in Ramayana & Mahabharat of crossing Boundary & failing … Seeta Maiya crossed the boundary Lakshman drew for her ( Lakshman Rekha ) …. She would have been invincible by playing from within that boundary
    • Abhimanyu — glorious example of valour , knew how to get into a Chakravyuh , did not know of how to get out – got killed ‘ crossing the line ‘
  • In sum therefore, I have grown fond of & convinced about the Power of the concept of “Aukaat “…. It is a beautiful, potent word / concept.
  • So I would encourage you to , instead of reminding someone else of his / her aukaat , it is more productive to get to know your own aukaat , because I am convinced that , only then you have a greater opportunity to excel , by playing within own aukaat . I have started practicing this.
  • For those , still skeptical about ‘ playing within aukaat ‘ , let me hasten to clarify the trade off , between the Short term & Long term in pursuit of excellence is that : In the short term , best shot at excellence is playing within the boundary ; while simultaneously working on stretching boundaries for long term excellence