There is unlikely to be an Indian who hasn’t heard of Rabindranath Tagore’s name and achievements. Born in 1861, Rabindranath Tagore was a polymath who reshaped Bengali literature, music, and art. The first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913, his novels, stories, songs, dance-dramas, and essays touched hearts and sparked debates around the world in the past – and continue to do so in the present. Two of Rabindranath Tagore’s compositions went on to be chosen by two countries as their national anthems; these include India’s Jana Gana Mana and Bangladesh’s Amar Shonar Bangla.
Words penned by the Bard of Bengal continue to hold inspiration and provide life lessons for every stage. Ahead of his birthday, we list down five Rabindranath Tagore quotes that are sure to provide inspiration for your work.
#1 ‘You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.’
There are deadlines to meet and goals to achieve, but nothing will get done till you do it. Achieving a workplace goal isn’t just about defining it; you will need to deploy the right strategies to achieve it.
Action your goals: Experts now suggest setting SMARTER goals– goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound, evaluated, and re-adjusted. Follow up by creating a plan of action, and instilling self-discipline (mitigating distractions works, so ban social media during certain work hours). Leverage the power of daily goal setting; this will ensure that you stay focused and on-track towards long-term workplace goals.
#2 ‘The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.’
There are 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day and 365 days in a year. Yet the one thing all employees and managers yearn for is more time. That’s not likely, so the next best thing to do is to become an effective manager of your time – instituting an effective system for managing your precious hours is key.
Better manage your time: Workplace performance expert Jason Womack suggests sticking to the “15-minute rule”. He recommends organising your workday into 15-minute chunks, which he says are “long enough to get something done and short enough to find in your day”. Womack, who has authored Your Best Just Got Better: Work Smarter, Think Bigger, Make More, says it’s also important to “know when you’re done” as continuing to work on something when it is essentially done is a “significant time-waster that most professionals aren’t even aware of”. He also recommends organising the daily to-do list around action verbs such as call, draft, review, prepare and schedule to ensure they get completed.
#3 ‘If you shut the door to all errors, truth will be shut out.’
It’s human nature to take immense pride in workplace achievements and gloss over mistakes. But, over time, that could be your undoing. Learning from mistakes – quickly – and taking steps to ensure no further repeats can save you future pain.
Learn from your mistakes: UK-based occupational psychologist and management trainer Dr. Peter Honey believes that mistakes are often the “fault of processes rather than people involved.” He suggests a three-point plan to making sure you learn from your mistakes and applying those learnings to your work. Begin with an honest assessment of the whole situation; breaking down the situation may help you figure out the “hows” and “whys”. Step 2: Try and work out how you can improve processes so that this mistake does not get repeated. Last, but not the least, put in place a plan to “implement the lessons learned, so they’re not just left as good intentions.”
#4 ‘Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers, but to be fearless in facing them.’
There comes a time in your working life, when you get comfortable. But this familiarity works as a hidden trap – making you complacent and hindering your progress at work. It’s important to keep trying new things for, according to an article published in Harvard Business Review, “not only is discomfort the new comfort zone, but it’s the key to opportunity and discovery.”
Get out of your comfort zone: The toughest part is taking the first step that gets you out of the boundaries you feel comfortable in. Take small steps – put yourself in a new environment, do something that scares you, consider other points of view, and ensure that you don’t pick the “safe” choice. Lianne Lyne, the founder of PLP Coaching, feels people often think of all the things that could go wrong when asked to step out of their comfort zone. “Instead, close your eyes and clearly visualise what a successful outcome looks like. Where are you? Who is with you? What are you doing? What does success feel like? Create that powerful image each time you feel fear stepping out of your safe zone.”
#5 ‘If you cry because the sun has gone out of your life, your tears will prevent you from seeing the stars.’
If there is one quality that tops the charts when it comes to leadership skills, it is seeing the bigger picture. Dr. Immanuel Joseph, chief compassion officer of Compassionleaders.com, which helps organisations become more mindful, compassionate and successful, big-picture thinking is the ability to “keep the bigger vision of successful leadership without getting caught up in negative dialogues and excuses that rise with challenges at work. It is the skill to see the forest for the trees and the ability to take the 10,000-feet view when challenges arise.”
See the bigger picture: Starting small is imperative to get a really good grasp of the big perspective. Begin by asking simple questions. Has work become simply a means of earning a living? Am I too focused on individual performance or achievements? Take a step back and allocate time to thinking; just ticking things off your to-do list will never give you time to think about things. Pick specific goals with a finite timeline – say a product roadmap – and identify actionable first steps that will get you there. Getting a work buddy on board is an extremely good idea as it gives you a person to think with and bounce ideas back and forth.