Mastering the art of non-doing

Business Matter

Manish Shah is the former president of Midwest Law Printing in Chicago. He also worked at Intel, PwC and Motorola. He has an MBA from Kellogg Graduate School of Management, and a MS in Computer Science from Illinois Institute of Technology. He can be reached at

By Manish Shah
How can you work long hours without getting stressed or tired? You can do that by mastering the art of non-doing.  A person, who has mastered the art of non-doing, lets his life unfold effortlessly. He achieves maximum effectiveness with minimal effort. Non-doing is considered to be the highest form of action in eastern philosophy.

Mahatma Gandhi exemplified non-doing. A Western journalist asked him if he needed a vacation after working 15-hour days for 50 years. Gandhiji replied that he was always on vacation.

One of the verses in the Bhagavad-Gita sheds light on how to perform our actions effortlessly:

Karmany akarma yah pasyed akarmani ca karma yah
sa buddhiman manusyesu sa yuktah krtsna-karma-krut
A person, who sees inaction in action, and action in inaction, is enlightened. Seeing inaction in action is the key to non-doing. A person, who has mastered the art of non-doing, follows these principles.

Do not be attached to the results: We dissipate our en-ergies by fantasizing or worrying about future outcomes. On the other hand, a singular focus on the present elevates the quality of the task performed. Western psychologists have called this a state of flow — a state of concentration or complete absorption with the activity at hand and the situation.

Be an instrument of the higher power: A person, who is functioning at the highest level does not struggle. He sees himself as an instrument of the higher power and lets the actions flow effortlessly through him. He is akin to a violin which makes beautiful music but is only an instrument in the hands of a musician. 

Have equanimity in success or failure: A person, who has moved beyond doership ceases to identify himself with the worldly successes or failures. In this state, he does not get elated when he succeeds or get depressed when he fails. 

Stop interfering and worrying: When a farmer plants a seed, he waters it and puts his full trust in nature’s ability to turn the seed into a plant. He does not dig the seed out to gauge progress. When we worry or anticipate problems, we restrict the flow of nature’s intelligence that is innate within us.
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