Chanakya Thoughts: Five steps of right thinking
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Instead of teaching our children, 'What to think’, we should teach them, ‘How to think,” said our Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his speech describing the vision of the National educational policy 2020.

It is quite obvious that we have a challenge in our generation. We are loaded with over information, turning into information pollution. All systems are about gathering information and collecting data. But, processing the data is a different ballgame all together.

Chanakya had taught his students the process of ‘right thinking’, called ‘Aanvikshiki’, a method of philosophical thinking leading to strategic thinking. Though there are various thinking models given in the Kautilya’s Arthashastra, let us focus on one simple five-step formula of deliberation to achieve our goals.

Chanakya says, “The means of starting undertakings, the excellence of men and material, (suitable) apportionment of place and time, provision against failure (and) accomplishment of work – this is deliberation in its five aspects.” (1.15.42)

These five steps can be used not only by students, but also by grown ups. And, they can be applied very practically to achieve any kind of results. Try this for any project in your personal or professional lives.

1. The means of starting undertakings

Before we start any work we have to think through all scenarios. Do we have all means for starting the work, what are the objectives and aims to be achieved, what is the purpose of this activity, will this undertaking be useful, and will it lead to successful completion? Begin with the end in the mind.

Chanakya would warn us: Before you enter, think about the exit. First, we start the work, and then the work overtakes us and, finally, it becomes a burden on us. Instead of enjoying the work, the work starts enjoying us. So, before you begin the journey, create a roadmap for the journey. If required, seek some expert advice as well.

2. The excellence of men and materials

Every work requires resources. The two main categories are: People required for the work, and the materials required for carrying on the work. This is the crux of project planning. Project management experts know that without adequate resources, one will never succeed. If resources are not there, try and create them.

Also if he work has already started, the optimum utilisation of people and the available resources. The leader should know how to get work done from his team. This is the main responsibility of leaders to inspire people to work with available resources.

3. Determination and allocation of right time and place

Carrying the work at the right time and at the right place, is critical for success. We may be doing the right work, but probably at the wrong time. In our country, maximum commercial activities happen during festivals. It is the right time for sales of vehicles, house hold items, new dresses, etc. Various industries get a boost during these times.

Place is also important. Something that does not work at one place, may be successful in another place. Some movies, which was not commercially successful in one region, may be super successful in another. This is like finding new customers and new markets.

4. Provision against failure

People take things for granted and think in a straight line. But, alternative thinking is very much required. Smartness is to have backup plans. If something goes wrong, the work should not stop. If electricity supply stops, have a generator as a back up. If one person leaves you, another should carry on the work.

Plan A should have a Plan B and if required plan C. Chanakya would go to the extent of creating upto a plan Z by thinking about all possible scenarios that can go wrong, and put alternate plans in place.

5. Accomplishment of results

Finally, all the activities that you started should accomplish the determined results. Activity should be in the right direction and the goals should be accomplished in the end. If you have not achieved the results, that means somewhere, the first four steps have not been carefully planned and executed.

But, only thinking is not enough. One should get up and get going. Swami Chinmayananda, the great spiritual master said, “Plan out your work, and work out your plan….” Stop not till you achieve your goals. Chanakya will show you the way and walk along with you…

(The writer is Founder-Director of Chanakya Aanvikshik, an author and an expert on Chanakya’s teachings)

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