Come August 15, several miniature Indian flags are hoisted on office desks across India. But how many of us have stopped to think about how the tri-colour also represents workplace values that we hold sacred?
Each colour and symbol contains a unique message that is as relevant to our professional lives as our personal lives. Read on to know what the colours saffron, white and green and the Ashoka Chakra in the center signify and how the message of the national flag can be used to reinforce your professional principles.
Saffron: Strength and Courage
When it comes to career, saffron symbolizes the mental strength that is crucial for career success. As psychotherapist and author of the book 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, Amy Morin, writes, “Mentally strong people overcome setbacks with confidence, because adversity only makes them better.” She adds that mentally strong people are more realistic in their approach, more in control of their emotions, and know how to use their time more productively.
Saffron also stands for courage, which gives one’s career a sense of purpose. Bill Treasurer, CEO of Giant Leap Consulting, which specializes in helping build ‘workplace courage’, divides courage into three parts—‘try courage’, ‘trust courage’ and ‘tell courage’. “With less fear and more courage, workers take on harder projects, deal better with change and speak up more willingly about important issues,” he writes.
White: Peace and Truth
Legendary basketball coach John Wooden provided one of the best definitions of professional success when he said, “Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best that you are capable of becoming.” Career success is not always about beating the competition in the race to the top. True success is about finding peace of mind and inner calm by giving your best effort. The white panel in the flag is a reminder to go beyond superfluous definitions of success and strive towards reaching the one true goal of finding inner peace.
The pursuit of truth can assume many forms, from practising simple truth-telling at the workplace, to having the courage to be pragmatic when confronted with difficult choices. For example, changing career track when you realize something isn’t working comes from an ability to perceive the truth and act accordingly. Sometimes, the truth hurts, but allowing yourself to be guided by it will always leave you at a better place than you were before.
Green: Fertility, growth and auspiciousness
The colour green represents creative fertility in the workplace. Creativity is becoming an increasingly important attribute in an age where automation is threatening the future of jobs. The World Economic Forum’s Jobs Of The Future report (January 2016) declares that creativity will become the third most important job skill by 2020. It defines creativity as “the ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.” Along with creative fertility, green also represents growth. The lack of growth opportunities is often cited as a major factor when people quit their jobs. But professional growth needn’t always be led by external factors—for example through promotions or salary increments. You could also grow professionally by learning new skills to enhance your professional profile and make yourself more marketable and, as a final option, Find Better. The last attribute—auspiciousness—reminds us of the importance of timeliness and luck. It is also a reminder that certain things are beyond our control and that it is in our best interests to accept them as they are.
Ashoka Chakra: Need for movement and progress
The Dharma Chakra, adapted from the Ashoka Pillar at Sarnath, comprises 24 separate spokes connecting to a single wheel. Each spoke represents a unique virtue such as love, patience, mercy, gracefulness, gentleness, selflessness, self-control, humility etc. that are also important work manifestos. For example, #LoveWhatYouDo is the first step towards excelling in your career. Humility and gracefulness are also important qualities to possess at the workplace, as are patience and self-control.
On the whole, the Dharma Chakra or the ‘wheel of law’ is symbolic of the need for continuous movement as a precondition for progress, and a warning of the perils of stagnation. The central message from the Dharma Chakra is never to come to a standstill, to #GoOutAndBe irrespective of how difficult the circumstances are.
As we celebrate Independence Day this year, let’s keep in mind the timeless wisdom symbolized by our beloved tri-colour and adopt them to take our career and nation forward.