Whose Business are we really in?

Whose business are you in

“No one can give you freedom but you……”
―Byron Katie

My daughter was coming home for her Diwali vacation and had to catch an evening flight from Mumbai. Her cab got caught in an awful traffic jam a couple of kilometers from the airport. Almost an hour passed and the cab had barely moved a few meters. Visions of her missing her flight, not knowing what to do and not having a place to stay wrestled with each other in my mind. In a panic state, I started calling my daughter as well as the driver of the cab repeatedly. Little realizing that I was offering no support or suggestions, only communicating my panic to both of them. Making their situation worse, reducing their ability to think clearly and consider other options.
During a review, I found that a team handling a critical project with a deadline, had totally overlooked the time schedule of a specific activity. In the ensuing brain storming session, a plan was formulated whose proper execution would get the project through. My apprehension about whether the plan would be handled properly led me to try and micro-manage the team members at every step. But what this led to was resentment , loss of the team’s initiative taking and working together ability and members blaming each other.
I am a stickler for orderliness. Specially at home, I know where things are kept and stored. So when I see my wife and daughters taking out and using something, I expect that afterwards they would put it back where I believe it should be kept. Alas! This seems to be hardly their priority and so things taken from somewhere are kept back somewhere else. I intensely dislike this and therefore become more strident and possessive about how things need to be used and kept. I need hardly add that neither my wife nor daughters have been able to come to terms with this trait of mine.
As I look back at the above situations, I realise that in every case, my thoughts and the consequent behaviour and action, have led to more stress, both for me and others. I sense that in some way, my thoughts and consequently myself, are not willing to accept the reality of ‘What Is’. So what is the genesis of such thoughts and behaviour?

Byron Katie, American speaker and author, in her self enquiry method ‘The Work’, provides an interesting perspective and insight. She identifies three kinds of business in the Universe: Our own, other peoples’ and God’s. God’s business is really about the reality that exists. So when we are unwilling to accept such reality, we are really into God’s business. When we hold fear or expectations about other people, we are living into these other peoples’ business. As per Katie, every time we start mentally living in God’s or other peoples’ business, we are no longer in our own business. We separate from our own selves and this is what leads to the stress we experience.

In the words of Byron Katie:

“If you understand the three kinds of business enough to stay in your own business, it could free your life in a way that you can’t even imagine. The next time you’re feeling stress or discomfort, ask yourself whose business you’re in mentally, and you may burst out laughing. That question can bring you back to yourself. And you may come to see that you’ve never really been present, that you’ve been mentally living in other people’s business all your life. Just to notice that you’re in someone else’s business can bring you back to your own wonderful self”.

In Learning………… Shakti Ghosal

Acknowledgement: The Work of Byron Katie. http://www.byronkatie.com

Author: Shakti Ghosal

* A PCC Credentialed Leadership Coach. * A qualified engineer and a PGDM (Faculty Gold medalist) from IIM Bangalore. * More than three decades of industry experience spanning Engineering, Maintenance, Projects, Consumer durables, Supply Chains, Aviation and Tourism in the Gulf region and India. * Top level management positions to drive business development, strategy, alliances all around the globe. * A visiting faculty at the IIMs. *A passion to envision trends & disseminate Leadership incubation globally. * www.linkedin.com/in/Shaktighosal. shakti.ghosal@gmail.com . +91 - 9051787576

28 thoughts on “Whose Business are we really in?”

  1. Loved this post Shakti very well written as always. Yes one can relate very easily and the best option with us is to practice the mantra of ‘let go”!

    With kindest regards 🙂

    1. Dear Dilip,

      At the outset, my sincere apologies for not acknowledging your comment earlier. I had been travelling and then had been away for a Leadership program.

      Indeed, the Mantra of ‘Let Go’ is a great option but difficult to implement and make it a life practise. As we go through life, our socialisation makes us’wound up being’in a manner that we are always checking in to find out ‘What’s wrong here?’ And as we sense something wrong, we further hold on to all that we have got, unable to ‘let go’.

      We need to possibly learn from what Buddha had preached so many millennia back. I had dwelled on this aspect in one of my earlier posts.


      Thank you for your lovely comment.


  2. I have not read Byron Katie’s works… But she sounds as if she certainly knows her ‘Business’ Shakti.. And we are all of us guilty of living other peoples business..
    We get drawn into everyone else’s drama’s… Learning to detach is easier said than done.. Although I am learning to detach more from the World’s Drama’s… And have come to understand how the Media manipulate our emotional bodies, so that we hold onto the Fear..
    Its more difficult to detach when the drama is within one’s sphere of family. But we can only keep checking ourselves to step back. And Live in our own Moments..

    I am pleased your daughter returned home safe and sound.. And I wish both you and your family a Happy New Year.. Filled with the many blessings we often take for granted.. As I wish you an abundance in Health and Happiness.
    Happy 2015…
    Blessings Sue

    1. Dear Sue,

      At the outset, may I also wish you and your family a great 2015, full of passion, energy and good cheer.

      Thank you for the very perceptive comment. Indeed, ‘Learning to detach’ from all that ids happening around us is easier said than done. At times, it is also difficult to know for sure whether an unfolding situation is really our business or not. But I suppose what Byron Katie is urging us to do is to hold the perspective of the three businesses as we go through life. That itself can loosen our attachments, if not totally remove them.

      God bless!


  3. Hi Mr.Shakti,
    It’s indeed a challenge to devoid God’s & other’s businesses. But if one needs to be in peace he or she has to be confined to his or her business only….choice is our’s

    Great writing..way to go ….waiting for more

    1. Dear San,

      You are absolutely right.But our process of socialisation through life does condition us to get entangled in businesses other than our own. is it not? So what could we do to nudge ourselves out of that and get back into our own business? I would love to get your thoughts on that.

      Thank you for your visit and taking the time to comment.


      1. Hi Mr.Shakti,

        Happy 2015…

        Yeah, ‘process of socialisation’forces us to indulge in businesses other than our own. But even when we ‘indulge’,can’t we cut off ourselves getting into other’s businesses?? & my answers are fortunately positive!!

        ‘Let go’ & ‘non-judgmental’ are the keys to ‘nudge’ ourselves out of others businesses…

        thanks for your response

        Waiting for more


      2. Hi San,

        At the outset, my sincere apologies for not acknowledging your comment earlier. I had been travelling and then had been away for a Leadership program.

        Those are great thoughts you have brought in. What are the practises we need to bring into our lives to move on the path of “Let go” and “Being non-judgmental”?

        Thank you.


  4. Shakti, this is a very honest post. I’m sure many can relate to it.

    Observing my control-freak mother in her last days – lying in a nursing home with feces under her fingernails and her hair flying out in every direction – was a real eye-opener and a tremendous gift. I really ‘got it’ that, in the end, none of that perfectionistic stuff we were so rigidly raised to adhere to will ultimately matter; i.e. perfectly clean surfaces, everything in order, every hair in place, a good manicure, and much, much more. It was so liberating! I mean, I’ve chosen to live in the country most of my life away from home, and I’m far from a manicured, made-up city girl. Still, I have spent much of my life deconstructing all that picky stuff that has caused much unnecessary suffering – my own and others.’ It’s been reflexive for so many years that mindfulness is always key. Happier now!


    1. Dear Bela,

      May I first take the opportunity to wish you an empowering and satisfying journey through 2015.

      The fact that life’s crucible events ( including the one you went through of seeing your mother during her last days) have been liberating for you is a blessing which most people remain deprived of. I have seen folks cycle down into a dark morass of frustration and blaming when they perceive ‘losing their grip’ on what’s happening ‘out there’. I believe, at such times, most folks lack that inner strength to ‘go it alone’ and need the support of another individual to make them see situations through different contexts. Sadly, how many of us have such a support at such critical moments?

      Bela, thank you for the lovely comment and do accept my apologies for responding late as I have been travelling out a lot last month.


  5. I think Malcolm’s quote sums up much of your brilliance in this post and is something that we all tend to forget ~ “there was no point in worrying about those things you cannot influence, only those things you can.” Wonderful post Shakti!

    1. Hi Dalo,

      At the outset, my apologies for the late response and do pardon the same.

      Thank you for your kind acknowledgement. Yes, Malcolm’s quote is great and you may like to see my response to that and a few of the other comments.

      Thank you Dalo for taking the time to visit and comment. I appreciate.


  6. But your daughter’s plight was part of your life, as is your team’s performance. And it’s perfectly reasonable for you to want things to be put back in their rightful place. All of these things affect you personally. I would argue that it’s reasonable for you to pay attention and that they are, in fact, part of your business. I don’t think I agree with this assessment. (Full disclosure: you may want to consider that I’m not entirely convinced there’s a ‘God.’ I believe it to be a man-made contrivance. Given that, my opinion may mean nothing at all to most.)

    1. Hi,

      Sorry for this late response but I had been out of station for most of December.

      You do bring in an interesting perspective. Seeing things in the way you mention, many aspects do seem to be part of ‘my business’ and hence call out for my involvement. I agree, this is how many of us would instinctively see it and find reason to get involved.

      I suppose what Byron Katie is really speaking of is to hold a balanced perspective about how things and situations show up in our lives. Our perspective might be to see ourselves inextricably involved in this or that situation. As we hold this perspective, we start to see a fatality, an inevitability, a resentment that it is happening to us and that we are forced to get involved, a loss of energy etc. Alternatively, we can hold a perspective that ‘We choose to be involved….’ Do you notice that with this perspective, we see an ownership, a calibrated control and a heightened energy of involvement? The latter perspective does allow us to ‘… stand in the Cause of the matter’, a declaration that we make but not an assertion.

      It really does not matter whether we believe in God’s existence or not. What God’s business signifies is the existing reality which is a positive phenomenon of ‘what is’, shorn of all normative value judgment of ‘Good or bad’. As I said above, we can choose to ‘stand in the Cause of the Matter’ which shifts us away from a ‘blaming’ mindset to one of responsibility. Such a shift in itself can vastly empower us and our actions, irrespective of what transpires in the end.

      Lastly, all opinions are important and critical to any discussion so thank you for the same.


  7. Interesting observation. The more we want things to be in place, the more they might never go our way. Stress usually equates to worry, and sometimes worrying gets us no where (except maybe we get to see a range of scenarios in our heads and prepare for them). Maybe we find it hard to accept reality because we just want the “best” for ourselves, or think about ourselves too much. As you referred to, there is a logical explanation behind everything.

    As the above commentor Visionkeeper, said, I hope your daughter made her flight 🙂

    1. Dear Mabel,

      Wish you a great 2015 going forward!

      My sincere apologies for responding late to you. Thank you for your visit and comment. You make an interesting point when you say that the genesis of all our worries, stress and attachments is ‘our wanting the best for ourselves’. True, but is not this intrinsic trait of ours important to take ourselves and consequently the human species, forward? Is this genetic programming of ours not responsible for all the development and progress that we see around us? So yes, I do tend to agree that this aspect within us does play a role in several of negative manifestations. I believe Byron Katie’s work is a way to handle these negatives.

      Cheers and God bless.


      1. You are so right. We strive to be the best of ourselves and it’s not all that bad. The more we seek to better ourselves, the more we learn and grow. And who knows where this will take us.

        Happy New Year, Shakti. Best wishes to you and all the best in what you do this year!

      2. Dear Mabel,

        At the outset, my sincere apologies for not acknowledging your comment earlier. I had been travelling and then had been away for a Leadership program.

        I love that perspective, and I quote you, “The more we seek to better ourselves, the more we learn and grow. And who knows where this will take us.”. Holding this perspective can surely open the doors to positivity and possibilities.

        Belated but nevertheless best wishes to you too for 2015.


    1. Hi Malcolm,

      Happy New Year to you and sorry for this late response as I had been travelling.

      Well, I suppose what Byron Katie says is a distilled version of what the philosophers of yore had spoken of.

      Cheers and thank you for the comment.


  8. A great post. You are right. I feel that as I get older, I care less and less for others’ businesses. Perhaps 20 years ago, I wasn’t strong and my emotions were too green and vulnerable that I would work myself into a stitch before I knew it. I am the eldest so I took control of everything and expected it all to work on my time. My family used to say, I threw a bomb into the middle of everything when I was stressed. Now, as you’ve said, I let others and the man above handle it. I walk away and have a quiet time. Thank you for sharing and re-affirming an important part of living.

    1. Hi,

      Sorry for this late response. Thank you for your visit and comment which I highly appreciate.

      Your life experience mirrors mine, and I suppose, holds true for most of us. When we are young, we hold a sense of righteousness that things need to go the way we feel is right. And we lack the wisdom and mindset to ‘lay off… and walk away’ , as you have said.

      Indeed, Byron Katie’s Work does affirm a very critical aspect we need to hold consciousness about as we go through life.

      Blessings to you!


  9. Love Byron Katie’s work, Hi there Shakti! Yes, the old issue of having to have things the way you want them. Doesn’t work no matter how hard we push or how loud we scream. These are times of letting go right now. Going within and taking stock of where we are and letting go what is no longer needed in our lives. It is so crazy what we do to ourselves and yes to others! Just think of the anguish your need to have everything put just so to keep order has caused you and yet we continue to push the point as if eventually we will force the other person to comply and all will be well. The person having to comply will not be happy, however, and that will boomerang back at us. And so we go round and round this driven circle until one day we decide to jump off and let things go only to find out how much easier life is when just allowing things be as they are. It is not easy for sure but these are the issues we are all facing right now, working to shed from our lives and hopefully move forward into a better way of being. Thanks for your honesty and sharing! Good luck letting it all go and accepting what is Shakti.. Blessings to you friend….VK
    P.S. Hope your daughter made her connection on time 🙂

    1. Hi VK,

      Happy New Year and do accept my apologies for this late acknowledgement due to my being absent from station for most of December.

      What a lovely perspective you have brought in VK! I loved that sentence of yours, and I quote, “…And so we go round and round this driven circle until one day we decide to jump off and let things go only to find out how much easier life is when just allowing things be as they are…” I could not have said it better, you have summed it up so well!

      And yes, my daughter made her connection, inspite of my reactions at that moment!

      Blessings to you too VK and thanks once again for being in this space with me.


  10. Wonderful post, Shakti. I especially love the part about when we resist reality, we’re trying to run God’s business. A recent event in my own family reminds me that I, too, have a tendency to want to control the business of others. When I come back to consciousness, I realize how fruitless this behavior is. Your timely post was a validation of my own insights. Thank you.


    1. Dear Cathy,

      May I take this opportunity of wishing you a happy New Year and at the same time I need to apologise for responding back so late to you. I had been travelling and into some year end projects with hardly the time to be on ‘WordPress’.

      Thank you for your kind acknowledgement. Yes, all of us have this tendency to control. But have we wondered what prompts this tendency? Could it be aspects of attachment and the fear that something might go wrong? I believe that every time we see this urge to ‘control’, ascribe blame and criticism towards things which we have no control over ( as you said), we need to remind ourselves of Byron Katie’s three businesses. If we persist in this, we will be surprised to see the loosening of the attachments and the shift in our consequent responses.

      I truly appreciate your taking the time to visit and comment Cathy and once again regret this late acknowledgement.


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