10 Management Lessons from Ramayana – Lesson 5

10 Management Lessons from Ramayana – Lesson 5


Exploiting an opportunity

Last week we saw than Hanuman had successfully achieved his objective but he wanted to go beyond the call of his duty and meet Ravana, before leaving Lanka. Hanuman wanted to meet Ravana in person for multiple reasons; the most important ones were to:

  1. Assess Ravana’s strength, state of mind, and resolve
  2. Deliver a message from Sugreeva and warn him of the strength of Vanara Sena
  3. Counsel him to let go of Sita, thereby avoid a mutually destructive war

Hanuman was wise enough to know that he will not be given an audience directly. Hence he devised a plan that will land him in front of Ravana. He started to destroy the beautiful, much admired Ashoka Vana. The rakshashas were flabbergasted to see their master’s favorite garden being destroyed and rushed to inform him about it. Meanwhile Hanuman having done a good job of destroying Ashoka Vana sat at the entrance and waited for Ravana’s forces to arrive.

Ravana was furious and sent the fiercest of his men the Kinnaras to kill or capture Hanuman. It was a child’s play for Hanuman to overcome the Kinnaras. Then Ravana sent armies led by the sons of his ministers who were duly vanquished. A surprised Ravana then called his commanders and briefed them about the challenge. He spoke about the various Vanaras he had encountered during his conquest. He described the valour of Vali, Sugreeva, Jambhavan and Nala. He warned them that Hanuman’s prowess exceeds that of these great Vanaras. He asked them to be prudent and bring Hanuman back to him. The commanders go and meet Hanuman in the battle field, only to be decimated by him in no time.

A surprised Ravana was forced to send his son Aksha to lead the command. Aksha was a fine warrior. The young prince was so skilled that Hanuman admired him and regretted having to fight him. When Aksha was get out of control, Hanuman caught him and hurled him to the ground there by killing him. Ravana was devastated by Aksha’s death. To avenge the loss and to reclaim the honor he had to resort to his most powerful warrior, his eldest son Indrajit!

Indrajit was a fighter prince, magician, sorcerer and much more. He could fly across the sky and deceive even the most powerful with his black magic. He has won over Indra and duly earned his name. When Hanuman and Indrajit fought the entire creation paused to watch this power play. After a prolonged battle Indrajit decided to use the most powerful missile in his armory – the Brahmastra. By the virtue of boon, Hanuman was immune to all astras including this one. But seeing this as the only opportunity to meet Ravana and out of respect he had for the creator (Brahma) he bowed to the astra. He let the astra overpower him.

A jubilant gang of rakshasha immediately went ahead and tied Hanuman with ropes, much to the dismay of Indrajit. The Brahmastra would release its hold once the victim is bound by any other means. Surprisingly Hanuman did not break these shackles and allowed himself to be paraded through the streets of Lanka. Finally he was brought before Ravana who thundered ‘Who are you? Why have you brought forth this destruction?’

Needless to say Hanuman’s actions hold with their folds the secret of exploiting an opportunity. There are five steps to realize the potential of an opportunity fully:

  1. Begin with end in mind: Before you waste time or effort, answer the question ‘why do we need this opportunity’. This alignment will ensue that we don’t travel down a road to place where we don’t want to reach. This is as simple as what we consider during an elevator pitch. What do you want from those precious seconds? A business card or an appointment or a decision? Know this beforehand.
  2. Identify/Create an opportunity: Once you know why you want an opportunity, you can identify a suitable one. If you want to a successful leader you may have to create an opportunity. After all Ravana was not issuing tenders for destruction of Ashoka Vana. Hanuman took it upon himself so that Ravana will be forced to meet him.
  3. Be ready to lose some to win some: This is traditional wisdom. When we pursue an opportunity we let go of many other opportunities. So we need to make sure that we win more than we lose. Also be prepared to lose the battle but win the war. Hanuman bowed to Brahmastra even if he did not have to so that he can meet Ravana. So understand which factor is the Brahmastra you will bow to.
  4. Time your actions: If Hanuman wanted to give up eventually, he could have done that to Aksha himself – but that would have confined him to the dungeons. If he has to bow it had to be brahmastra so that Ravana may understand that he is facing a man of extraordinary caliber. Similarly you need to time your actions, do not sacrifice too soon or do not keep holding on to multiple options till your time runs out. Be prudent and time your actions, like a successful stock trader would do.

How did Hanuman use the opportunity he fought for? What did Hanuman say to Ravana? Wait till we find out in the next episode. Till then don’t hesitate to mail your views and comments to psmadankumar@gmail.com.

If you want to catch up what happened before this read the previous post (Lesson #4) here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/10-management-lessons-from-ramayana-lesson-4-madan-panathula?trk=prof-post

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