On the travails of a Block Chief

Sharing at MD Bi-Monthly Meeting – 30/7/’95  

Last year was a wonderful year for me, I took on many additional responsibilities in faith joyfully and became a pillar group member and a Block Chief .At the office also I was promoted after considerable delay as a General Manager .Most important of all I was fortunate to have gone on the historic training programme to Japan and met Sensei several times.

This year I had determined to work for the development of capable leaders from within the Block and to engage actively in shakabuku.

Due to commitments at the office I missed my very first Zadankai as a Block Chief. Subsequent Zadankai’s also left me with a feeling that a lot of improvement was necessary. On taking guidance, I was told to involve the members more effectively in preparation for the Zadankai and bring in new members through an active shakabuku campaign by all members. While following this guidance, the quality of our Zadankai’s did go up ,but somehow we could not retain the new members we introduced. They just dropped out after the first few meetings.

The faith and practice of members became a concern ,as quite a few of them became irregular in their Gongyo and began to drop out of activities. Many were facing serious health problems or job related problems.

With each passing month I felt the determinations I made at the start of the year become more and more remote and when a member practicing for three years said he would not be attending further meetings, I really felt low. My constant worry was how I can report to Sensei that this had happened.

At office also, while things were going well for me, many organization changes which could affect my career adversely were expected in the near future .I was worried I may get shifted to an in-appropriate assignment and my career would stagnate.

It was against this back drop that we commenced our study campaign .I reported to our Chapter Chief ,who was also our District Chief ,that I wanted to use this study campaign to help members renew their commitment to our faith and practice. I didn’t know clearly at that stage what I had to do to achieve this .I also made a deep determination that using faith ,practice and study I would make a major break through in my career so that I could report victory to Sensei in November and share my experience at the General Meeting.

The first few District level study meetings were poorly attended. In the first only five attended and none from our Block. Our Chapter Chief decided that the District level study meetings should be strengthened by study with individual members through home visits.

We did our best to carry out home visits, however there were several difficulties. Both our Group Chiefs were not available most of the time due to work pressures. I too had difficulty going on home visits as I had to go outstation on office work many times.

However I used the time while traveling on tour to study in the aircraft  and at the hotels .Thanks to flight delays ,I could study more than I thought possible. I was able to organize my schedule in such a manner ,that I hardily missed any meetings for both Entrance and Introductory Exams. The Group Chiefs and I used every available opportunity to go on home visits and cover every member.

Our Leaders guidance’s helped me right through this campaign. One guidance that reached through ,was that the problems I was facing with my Block ,was not so much due to my own faith and practice , as I believed it was ; but that is was more because as a senior leader of Soka Gakkai , I was not inspiring the members to take to faith .All the while I was superficially saying to myself , that my faith and practice was reflected in the members and that I must ensure that  I don’t miss a single  Gongyo , chant at least one hour every day and study hard .While I was struggling to do all this I did not reflect deeply enough on my own attitude to faith and practice , my behavior to members and those aspects of my personality that prevented me from inspiring my members.

I also realized that while I took and accepted guidance, I didn’t really apply it deeply in my life. The same was true of my study of Sensei’s guidance’s and Gosho. I wasn’t working hard enough to apply these teachings in my life.

I began to reflect on how I can be a good leader and not just a good member ,and sought to grasp the difference through a deeper study of Sensei’s guidance’s .I used the home visits and study campaign to improve in this regard.

I reflected on the guidance our Chief Secretary gave us during the Gosho lecture on ‘Happiness in this World.” i.e. we owe a debt of gratitude to our members as they gave us an opportunities to work on our own human revolution. Also it is our mission and responsibility as leaders to bring hope and encouragement to the members.

The following lines from Sensei’s guidance also moved me a lot “All things, our struggles in life and activities for kosen-rufu included, are determined by powerful and unwavering resolve. The cause for defeat too, lies not in the obstacles we face or the severity of our situation, but only in the ebbing or breakdown in our inner determination.”

As the study campaign progressed I gradually felt my attitude of complaint and dis-appointment ,giving way to understanding caring and encouragement. Things started to happen towards the end of the campaign .A group of WD and YWD members who were sliding back in faith now commenced seeking leaders and became more active. As a group they jointly decided to take the Entrance Exam come what may.

One WD member who said she was mortally afraid of exams since childhood finally overcame her fear and took the Entrance exam. She reported afterwards that she may fail in this exam but will definitely pass next time. Even my eleven year old son took the Entrance Exam with great confidence .He reported that he would probably fail as he took seriously a remark that the pass mark was 95% .

Almost all our members took the exams with a sense of joy and a feeling that in some way each of them had won. Some had to struggle against illness to take the exams. One Group Chief got held up in the rain .He finally drove through the rain on his motorcycle reaching the hall quite late and quite drenched , but in high spirits.

The Zandankai before the exams ran into trouble as both Block Chiefs and the Chapter Chief could not participate in the preparations. How ever the Youth Division Group Chiefs and several members rose to the occasion, and worked hard, fighting against odds to make the meeting a grand success.

The study campaign helped me get back on the rails with respect to faith and practice. I feel much more confident and positive about taking care of the Block than I was before. The study campaign also helped me re-introduce study of Sensei’s guidance’s and Gosho as an integral part of my life. This was one pillar of our practice that some how took a back seat over the last year.

My sincere efforts to polish my life, and become a leader that Sensei would want me to be, resulted in a major break through at the office. Towards the end of the study campaign I was informed by my company that I was promoted as a Director and will take over the new responsibilities from 1st August.

I am conscious that this great benefit is not an end itself .It is only a fresh start on the life long road towards my own human revolution. I am deeply grateful to Sensei, to the members of our Block and our Leaders for helping me achieve this position. I will continue to dedicate myself to making our Block extremely joyful and vibrant and help raise capable leaders.



Author: hari008

Business Leader , Mentor and Executive Coach with a long track record of achievement , developing high performance teams and mentoring team members who now hold responsible positions in several leading companies

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