Monday, January 17, 2022

Wasted advice?

 Unarvadhudaiyarmun sollal valavardhul paatthiyul neer sorindhatru - Thirukkural

To impart advice to he who understands it himself is akin to watering plants that are capable of growing by themselves - Loose Translation

There are times when you feel that, perhaps, Tiru lived in times when men had a totally different idea about how to go about living. Yeah, I know, I know, they DID live a different life - no Uber, no Zomato, no Amazon - but THAT is not what I mean. You tend to assume that some things remain the same, interpersonal relationships being the predominant one. But, even there...

You see, about the greatest leadership talent that we see working most successfully is to identify which way the mob is running and run a couple of steps ahead of it. Or, if you are not inclined to too much physical exertion, you just tell them to do what they intend doing anyway and, perhaps, throw in a few more philosophical or moral reasons for why it is important for them to do what they anyway want to do. THAT, then, makes them look up to you as the wisest man they ever knew.

And Tiru says that it is a waste! That to give advice to someone, who already knows it, is akin to watering a plant that is growing nicely without your interference. 

Come on! Isn't it the whole point of advice to boost your own prestige? To tell someone to do something that he has anyway started to do -  does that not make you look like someone who has authority over the other person? To advice someone on something when he anyway intends doing it - does that not make it possible for you to claim that it was your advice which made him do it? I mean, your prestige gets boosted doing all that, does it not? So how can that be a waste?

Tiru must have lived in strange times. Instead of counting usefulness in terms of how it affects YOU, they seemed to have considered it in terms of whether it altered the other person's actions. If it did not alter anything, it was useless to give the advice apparently. Ye Gods!

Thankfully, we live in times when, even when we scream of making change happen, we are careful to check whether we are in sync with our own choir! Otherwise, nobody will consider us wise!

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