Service and Spirituality (Part 45)

Essentials for Effectiveness

No one likes to work for no reason. Even a fool doesn't work without a purpose. Yet, everyone does work in their own way. Irrespective of how we work, all of us certainly like our endeavors to be effective and successful. The Chandogya Upanishad (1.1.10) says what contributes to effectiveness: "Whatever is performed with knowledge, shraddha (the essence of faith), and meditation becomes more powerful in bearing fruit." In other words, such work becomes more effective.

Effectiveness has two aspects: external and internal. External refers to the effective accomplishment of the work to one's satisfaction. Internal refers to the work's long-term influence on one's inner growth. Knowledge, shraddha, and meditation-we will discuss these one by one.

Doing Work with Knowledge

A sound knowledge of the work to be done, technical expertise, tools required, and so on-all these need to be considered before undertaking any project. But is there anything more? Yes, says the Bhagavad Gita, there are certain important things we need to know before taking up any work. There are both objective (external) and subjective (internal) factors. Objective factors are mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita, 18.25.


Every work leaves pleasant and unpleasant effects on the one who does the work and also on those affected by the work. "No work is free from imperfections, even as fire is covered by smoke," says Sri Krishna, and advises Arjuna not to shun work just because it is associated with defects. (Bhagavad Gita, 18.48) For work to be effective, one needs to consider all possible consequences and choose that option which will bring maximum good to the maximum number of people.

Expenditure of Power and Wealth

Cost of human resources and fixed and running costs of systems are to be studied beforehand to be free from surprises and shocks later.


Any possible injury to people or other living beings resulting from work needs to be anticipated earlier and avoided.

Assigning Responsibilities

Assigning the right people with the right responsibilities is perhaps the most important factor that contributes to effectiveness, and brings satisfaction to the ones doing the work.

We have seen some objective factors that can make work effective. Now for the subjective factors, which are discussed in the Bhagavad Gita, 18.30.

What Work to Do and What Not to Do

True assessment of our abilities: Having a hard look at our strengths and limitations helps us decide what work to take up and what is beyond our capabilities. If we begin some work without adequate competence for it, we will only perform it with inefficiency and ineffectiveness, and invite frustration and failure. Says Swami Vivekananda: "There is, however, one great danger in human nature, viz. that man never examines himself. He thinks he is quite as fit to be on the throne as the king. Even if he is, he must first show that he has done the duty of his own position; and then higher duties will come to him. When we begin to work earnestly in the world, nature gives us blows right and left and soon enables us to find out our position. No man can long occupy satisfactorily a position for which he is not fit."

Part 46

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