Two Birds in a Tree: Timeless Indian Wisdom for Business Leaders
Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks
Date: October 2013
Duration: 6 hours 33 minutes
Looking back to the ancient knowledge of the Indian scripture, the Upanishads, Ram Nidumolu finds the core philosophy of sustainable leadership that’s needed today. In this remarkable book, he uses a powerful parable from these scriptures to create a business vision that our world desperately needs.
“There are two birds, two sweet friends, who dwell in the selfsame tree,” says the Upanishads. The first bird, dwelling on the lower part of the tree, lives “in sorrow and anxiety.” Unable to see beyond the branches, it hops around compulsively indulging its appetites, eating every fruit, sweet and sour. The other bird, higher up, can see the whole tree and the wider world—this perspective puts it in touch with its innate sense of being, the quality of existence that it shares in common with all other living beings and the natural world. Content, it “looks on in compassionate silence” at the other bird.
Ram Nidumolu’s provocative book on business leadership uses this allegory from Indian scripture to highlight why many businesses are distrusted by the public and contribute to social ills like environmental destruction, wealth inequality, and climate change: they mimic the bird on the lower branch. But can business, compassion, and stewardship really coexist? Ram’s surprising insight is to hearken back to the earliest Indian philosophical texts to reclaim their lessons for acting in accordance with our connection to Being. He outlines a four-part framework for what he calls “being-centered leadership” and offers examples of this kind of leadership in action, from companies such as Harley Davidson, Timberland, Puma, Pepsi, and many others. It is time, he writes, to “look up from our rickety perch on the lower branch of a storm-tossed tree and begin the journey to the higher branch.”
“This book provides a timely—and eloquent—reminder that business does not operate in a moral vacuum and that tomorrow’s business leaders will need to be driven by a deeper sense of purpose. After reading it, no one can doubt that business can—and should—become a giver and not a taker in a system that gives it life in the first place.”—Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever