What I learned from #Mahatma Gandhi

Leading is never an easy job. Yet, it seems to come naturally to some people.

Leading by example

There will always be that one girl who takes the lead when it comes to planning a party or that one gentleman who changed the course of history while leading an entire nation on the road to freedom.

Mahatma Gandhi is one of the greats.

He has dominated the pages of middle school history in classrooms across the world, and the minds of business leaders globally.

Right from Steve Jobs to Albert Einstein, to Barack Obama, who most famously said that if he could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, he’d probably have dinner with Mahatma Gandhi, who he described as “a real hero of mine.”

And then, there are always the skeptics, who say: What could we possibly learn from a dhoti-clad man whose own personal life was always rife with stories of all sorts?

Whether you like him or not, turns out there is a lot that you can and should learn from him.

Here’s what stands out for me:

Go the distance alone, literally

Gandhi didn’t start out with a large following; he didn’t have people fawning all over him. In fact, he was literally thrown into a movement by the sheer force of injustice. It is only later in his journey that he became such a larger-than-life public figure.

Maybe that’s why the song Ekla chalo re (if nobody responds, march along alone) penned by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore in 1905 was such a favorite of his.

Goes to show that sometimes you may be alone in your journey. But if you have conviction, you have everything. So many people who have changed the world had to struggle at some point in their lives or the others.

Take our bulb man Thomas Alva Edison, who made finally invented the edison bulb after 1,000 unsuccessful attempts!

Or Walt Disney, who was fired from a newspaper for “not being creative enough” and went on to make history in more ways than one.

Ingenuity can go a long way

On the road to freedom, Gandhi is known to have come up with various ingenious ideas to propel the movement forward.

One such idea was the promotion of the khadi movement. By exhorting the masses to spin their own cotton yarn and make their own clothes, Gandhi was teaching people to become self-reliant and respect the dignity of labour. But more importantly, he was teaching people an important lesson in becoming economically empowered by utilizing one’s own resources.

The khadi movement is one of the most successful business ideas today. It continues to provide a livelihood to hundreds of Indians located in the country’s villages and beyond.

You’re only as good as your team

I think this lesson really stands out for those of us who are learning to lead a team of people.

No matter how lofty your ideas, inspiration or enthusiasm, you’re only as good as your team — the people who will execute your plan.

While Gandhi was initially the leading force behind India’s freedom movement, he would not have succeeded if it had been a lonely battle the entire way.

Even if you are the sole brain behind an amazing startup idea, at some point you will need to scale up and bring more people on board. You will need to find others who share your passion and vision — and trust them with your baby. After all, it takes a village to rear a child.

-Authored by Kushal Saini Kakkar, who is currently studying the art of leadership. Is also a content marketing maven at Flock.