Most people are well aware of who Mahatma Gandhi is. In the rare instance that you don’t yet know of him, here is a small bit of background. Gandhi, was (and still is) one of the most inspiring and iconic figures of our time.
It is a well-known fact, that he headed a movement that essentially led to India’s independence from Britain in the early 1900’s. Gandhi’s developed a concept known as satyagraha, or active nonviolent resistance. It was through this concept that he was able to drive forward the Indian struggle for independence, and influence countless other nonviolent struggles across the globe.
Much has already been written about Gandhi and his achievements. There have been dozens of other articles, research papers, and books written about him. A simple internet search will bring you endless facts about the great man that Gandhi was.
The difference between what I am providing you now, and what others have already provided, is that I have distilled these principals into thee very powerful, and actionable insights that you can apply to your personal, professional, or business life today to improve it.
At this point, you may be asking yourself, “Why only three steps? Why not more? After all didn’t Gandhi embody so much more than just three concepts?” If these questions did pop up in your mind, just know, I sincerely agree with you.
There is so much more to learn from Gandhi than just these three things. However, to study all the different ways he was great would take a lifetime commitment.
So as to not contribute to the already existing din of info, but rather to add a perspective and focus that could be helpful to you and your life, I’ve chosen to provide these three simple lessons. Lessons simple enough that you can effortlessly take in and immediately begin to apply to your own life.
Ultimately, my purpose is to give you accessible information that’s easy to act on. By giving you only three steps, I am aiming to make the insights digestible, more memorable, and as a result, more impactful to you and your life. So without further ado, let’s begin.
1.) EXPERIMENT: Adopt an Attitude of Experimentation.
Gandhi was big on the concept of adopting an attitude of experimentation. He essentially built his whole philosophy based on this premise. By and large, Gandhi was a scientist. He constantly tested what would and would not bear close scrutiny. What this essentially means, is that he tested what worked and what didn’t work in his personal, professional, public, and political life constantly. Only after scrutinizing every one of his assumptions on why he should do things in a certain a way, would he allow himself to adopt an idea or an approach to his life as a truth.
What his suggestion means for us is that we could, like Gandhi, apply a level of openness to everything we do in our life. We could adopt an honest curiosity about whether what we are doing is the correct way that we should be doing it. This approach can apply to just about every aspect of our lives.
For instance, in our personal lives we can experiment with what actions work and which ones don’t. This can be especially true when it comes to relationships. For the things that improve our relationships, we should keep doing them, for all those things that seem to bring frustration or anger to the relationship, it won’t hurt to dig deeper to find out why, but ultimately we can experiment with ceasing to do those things entirely, and seeing how (or if) it improves the relationship.
Additionally, if we have relationships that are of a negative type, that we feel may be a source of our unhappiness, or source of some type of anxiety or frustration in our lives, we can simply experiment by approaching the relationship differently, or we can test out the avoidance of that relationship all together.
Similarly, we can experiment with our job or career. If there are things we don’t like about our job, we can simply play scientist, and try to figure out what aspects of our job are acceptable to us, and try to find a way to do more of that.
For instance, if company meetings tend to sap your energy, you can find out if it is because of the subject being discussed during the meeting, or whether it’s the time that meetings are being held. You could also test to see if it is because of some negative influencer who participates in the meetings. Once you pinpoint what is diminishing your happiness, comfort, or peace of mind, you can put your energy towards solving that problem to improve the situation.
On another note, we can experiment with leaving a job or career (choosing a completely different one) altogether, to see how that impacts our happiness and quality of life. I am not suggesting doing anything rash, but perhaps a change of scenery is what is needed. You won’t know unless you experiment.
The same can be applied in our entrepreneurial pursuits. Adopting an attitude of experimentation could be extremely helpful for many fledgling businesses. For example, entrepreneurs should be testing what marketing approaches work, and which one’s don’t, early on. Experiments should be conducted on which product concepts will most likely fly, vs. the ones that may likely crash and burn, or by experimenting to see if there is a proof of concept before a product is even launched.
Even leaders within established businesses could follow Gandhi’s lead of having an attitude of experimentation. It’s primarily a matter of being open to see what works.
Many ordinary people, professionals, entrepreneurs, and business executives alike, already know these things, but fail to recognize the impact that experimentation can have. In almost every scenario, the things that get tested are the things that improve.
2.) BELIEVE: You can shape and guide your life according to your highest ideals.
The 2nd way we could be great like Gandhi, is to simply believe. You see, Gandhi had a strong belief that anyone could shape and guide their life according to their highest ideals, no matter how insignificant and powerless they might be at this moment.
This concept can be applied in a very lofty, spiritual sense, but it can also apply to a more practical aspect of our lives as well. What he basically means, is that no matter who we are, or where we are in our lives, we can aspire for the very best that life has to offer us. We can hitch a ride on our highest ideals to bring them into existence in our own lives. What we can imagine, even the very best of what we can imagine, is not out of reach for any of us, regardless of our circumstances.
On a very practical level, this means we can control how our lives, careers, and businesses are shaped and defined. Each of us has the power to shape our lives according to those values, ideas, and ideals most important to each of us individually.
For instance, in a professional setting, if you admire an individual (professional/executive/boss etc..) for who they are, for what they do, or even for what they value, that respect can be tapped in such a way, that those things that we admire in them, can be used as a guide to shape who we become in our own careers, or how we perform as a professional.
The same can apply for those on their entrepreneurial journey. If you are a striving entrepreneur that is seeking to create a business, product, or celebrity-like status that you admire in another entrepreneur, you can simply use those entrepreneurs who you’ve deemed successful as a model. You can use them as a guide on how you may want your business, products, or reputation to develop. If you want to have a business and live a life similar to the way John Lee Dumas of eofire.com does, study his approaches, focus on his values, and aim to emulate.
Similarly, if we on the other hand, wish to be the next Jeff Bezos, we can just as easily read more about the man, study his books, his businesses, his very way of thinking. Eventually, you will come to a point, where you would have the ability to start performing in a way that would bring you closer to that ideal.
This can also play out on an inspirational or leadership type level. If we wish to be more like those who inspire us, move us, or those who help us realize that we can do more than we think ourselves capable of doing, we can start to live the inspiration of the words that come from those who move us. If we heed Gandhi’s wisdom, we can realize we have the power to create ourselves in such a way that allows us to become like the person we are most inspired by.
3.) UNDERSTAND: Personal change and the ability to bring about social change are linked.
Gandhi admonishes that it is no use trying to implement principles such as nonviolence and/or justice in public affairs, so long as one neglects them in their personal life.
Another way that we can be great like Gandhi, is to understand this concept on a deep and visceral level. This gem of wisdom is probably the most powerful of them all, yet it’s the one that is hardest to apply. It’s an insight that all too many of us have failed to understand at some time in our life. We understand the concept when we read it, but many of us fail to live the truth of this statement. We fail to apply it to our lives. Why do we fail? Well because it’s hard. Change is hard.
Gandhi’s quote “Be the change you wish to see in the world” sums it up quite nicely. He believes this, because if we don’t individually change ourselves on a deep personal level, then nothing in the outside world is ever going to change.
Here is a simple example, as it relates to managers and leaders. If you are a manager or leader, read this carefully. If we expect our employees to value being on time, and being respectful of their bosses, then we must ensure we are doing the same in our personal lives.
If in our personal lives we show up late to personal events, or bash our employees, and even our bosses’ behind their backs to our spouses and friends, how can we expect to create an environment in our office that is the opposite of this? How can we expect to hold our employees accountable to things we ourselves don’t do? This can be said for many other aspects related to the office that we fail to do in our own lives.
For entrepreneurs and established business folk, if we expect our customers to trust us, everything we do has to be done in the spirit of trustworthiness.
If we expect to experience value provided to us in the form of money, we have to ensure we provide value to the world in the form of a useful product or service.
If we are trying to cut corners just to make a dollar bill, or we are rushing through the creation of products or services just to have one, our customers will sense that. Not only that, but if we do it ourselves, how can we expect that others out in the world won’t be trying to do it to us. If we want the world to trust us, we have to be trustworthy, and we have to trust the world.
On a personal level, if we are expecting to experience peace, happiness, and integrity from others outside of our home; we must realize that it must first be provided to those we love on the inside of our home. A person who wishes for an improved outside world, but does nothing to improve their inside world is headed down a long road of frustration.
Paulo Coelho has a quote that I believe drive’s Gandhi’s point home quite well, when he states “When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better.”
In conclusion, you can be great like Gandhi. You can start down the path of doing so by applying the three simple insights I’ve highlighted throughout this post. Experiment with Your Life, Believe you can become your greatness, and Understand that in order for things to change you must change. If you seek to implement these insights, you can improve your career, your business, and yes, even your life.
Now go be great like Gandhi, go be great like YOU!