What Ghalib May Have Wanted To Teach Future Business Leaders

A short history lesson. Ghalib was an early 19th century Urdu and Persian poet. Of Central Asian heritage, he lived in present day India/Pakistan during great political upheaval. Ghalib was cursed with life’s tragedies. An orphan at an early age. Lost all seven of his children in their infancy. Although born in nobility, he fought against life-long financial hardships. A person of acute observation, the surrounding social corruption and the erosion of religious thought pained him.

Ghalib’s pain became a legendary set of poetry written.

Let’s read a few of my favorite verses with modern tongue-in-cheek twists to have an excuse to quote Ghalib!

“Love knows no difference between life and death. The one who gives you a reason to live is also the one who takes your breath away”

This is likely around the need for prudent risk management. New initiatives, big vision but if not managed (think budget over-runs, labor mismanagement, poor communication) can be an early retirement present for the leader.

“Whoever can’t see the whole in every part plays at blind man’s bluff. A wise man tastes the entire Tigris in one sip”

Systems thinking what else. Connecting the dots.

“Through love I tasted the spirit of life. Curing one pain, it yielded another incurable one”

This maybe about process improvement. An inability to think end-to-end client journey mapping means process improvements in one place can create unintended gaps elsewhere.

“Love cannot be seeded into someone. It is a fire that is difficult to kindle but once it takes on, it is equally difficult to extinguish”

I like to think here we are talking about the culture of learning and continuous improvement. It may take several workshops and webinars to spark but then the obsession to take certifications and the desire to go to every conference on the planet becomes somewhat unhealthy.

“He gave me heaven and earth, and assumed I’d be satisfied. Actually I was too embarrassed to argue”

Classic case of putting in front of your promising talent a major project to flex their skills. Maybe coupled with a motivational salary raise. Frequent kudos. But as a leader you cannot seem to satisfy the thirst of this thirsty pool of talent.

“For the raindrop, joy is in entering the river”

Maybe this is a hint to fall in line. The inevitable excitement with which talent enters an enterprise but before you know it, the corporate bureaucracy has completely overwhelmed the aspirations. Go with the flow?

I am inspired by those who are able do so much more with so less…