Lessons on Laziness and Forgetfulness by Tirukkural

It is time to look beyond our weaknesses of forgetfulness and laziness to evolve into great leaders. The Ancient Tamil text, Tirukkural devotes one entire chapter towards the need to transcend forgetfulness.


(Image Credit: Dean Shareski)

The Tamil Text, Tirukkural contains clear messages about forgetfulness and laziness that arises from it. Often, forgetfulness is considered as part of our nature. With the availability of technology that can remind us about our tasks, the need to remember is often seen as a secondary skill. However, Masters like Tiruvalluvar who composed Tirukkural has mentioned quite strongly about the virtue of alertness and skill to remember things very strongly.

Dangers of Pleasure

Pleasure is a very dangerous concept for a leader. Too much indulgence and chasing of pleasure can lead us to forgetfulness. With the arrival of money, resources and charming people, we could lose focus on our vision and goals. This is commonly seen among businessmen, politicians, entertainers and so on. We have examples of many “one hit wonders” who delivered great results in the beginning and then moved into oblivion due to pleasure and indulgence that followed initial success. Teen stars in Hollywood and Pop Music who could not work out their potential due to drug abuse, alcoholism and sex indulgences after early breakthroughs stare at us in this context.

Tough responsibilities require a tough mind. A person weakened by indulging too much under pressure will not be capable of taking tough decisions. Consider an entrepreneur who needs to fire an employee, a vendor or a customer. In order to keep a jovial relationship with people around her/ him, an entrepreneur may refuse to take tough decisions. This is also seen in certain political parties as well. A good name among stakeholders may give us pleasure. But, if the stakeholders start to hurt our means, it is necessary to break their ties. How can a mind filled with thoughts of pleasure be able to take tough decisions?

When we forget Duties

A lazy being starts to forget her/ his duties with time. Management Wisdom and the ancient Shastras speak of performing the right duty at the right time without delaying it too much due to being unaware. Even though we have highly capable and well trained Civil Servant in India, it is disheartening to see our Public Goods like Roads, Sanitation, Health Facilities, Government Schools and other facilities in a very sorry state of affairs. In spite of a well developed bureaucratic set up, the incapability to execute the right action at the right time often results in failure. Government failures are very visible to citizens. But, what about personal failures and Private business failures? Many setbacks can often be traced back to an indifference towards the sense of duty due to forgetfulness and laziness.

The ability to look into the future and take necessary action is critical for a leader’s success. One who cannot foretell consequences due to laziness is doomed for failure and disgrace. This can be seen in case of good discipline. Look at Defence forces across the world. The constant focus on training and fitness enable them to be battle ready at any instance. However, such a mindset is absent among many of us who like to take things a lot lightly. It is not wonder that only a very aware person is capable of making plans and then sticking to the plans made. A question of forgetfulness at this juncture will be quite negative. Can you be precise about your future today?

The Best kind of Leader

A leader who is aware of everyone with her/ him and everything that happens around is the best leader. Such a leader is not prone to laziness and forgetfulness. Consider a Politician or a Business Leader who is suddenly called on by the media. Comments such as “I really don’t remember that person” or “I am not aware of that situation” can result in huge negative consequences. Again, someone who has risen to such positions cannot stay there with a mind that is prone to laziness and forgetfulness as well. A country which is huge like India or a business that is spread around globally with tens of thousands of employees will have a lot of minute details. How will a leader be aware of all those details? And what would happen if the details are neglected?

The best lessons before us are the failures of people before us. We have a rich history of events and people from across the centuries. We also have living histories being discussed in media and forgotten by the press as well. Did laziness and forgetfulness play a part in their failures? Think about it.

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