Satsang – the art of keeping the right company

No we aren’t talking about sitting. Nor about singing for that matter. The word simply means the company of the highest truth (or good company).

While all spiritual masters have recommended keeping the right company (do check out shankaracharya’s bhajagobindam where he teaches us that satsang (good company) is the starting point for liberation itself), upon reflection it seems to me to be the essence of success in all endeavors.

Here’s a quick list I have accumulated over a decade of experience in the IT sector on traits we should watch out for in ourselves and our teams – they can cause untold damage to our pursuits (business, social or spiritual!) if we let unchecked.

”Yes men” for sure are to be avoided. They add zero value to a situation, but can make your ego grow big time – encouraging us to make mistakes we wouldn’t have otherwise committed. They usually only abound when the going’s good (and disappear during tough times!), so when things are good is when we need to watch out for them the most. And if we are ”yes men” ourselves, god help our teams and everyone around us!

The ”non-conformist” guys – these folks openly encourage flouting the spirit of rules (though they may adhere to the letter), principles and the lot – quoting ”ends justify the means”. They are usually very good at getting things done but relying on them can very easily pitch us into a culture of ”anything goes for success”. Invariably this makes the going stressful for their teams; and in the long run, work stops being fun. The good news is that these guys are committed – and so if you can get them to agree on what the ”rules of engagement” are, they can very quickly turn into ”stars”.If you adopt their methods of course, it’s many steps backward buddy!

The ”goody goody guys with a personal agenda”. These are guys who look very harmless, and are often considered very nice guys. The thing is ”the goodness often arises out of a weakness and not a strength”. So you might find him/ her strongly ”advocating empowerment” ( a very positive attitude) but on closer view you’ll find it translates to less accountability for him – or because she has a demanding personal interest (or another job!) leaving her less time (and focus) for your business goals! These guys are toughest to spot because of their percieved ”niceness” – but can cause maximum damage to the culture of the group itself. If such behavior is left unchecked, their attitude is likely to be adopted by their teams and slowly the entire team gets ineffectual. Weeding them out may require battling with feelings of guilt and other negative emotions (as they are loathe to discuss hard facts as a rule and prefer emotions instead); the sooner its done, the better though! And if we find ourselves to be the ”nice guy with an agenda”, it’s best to take some personal ”me time”, do some soul searching and find ourselves an ambition or value that inspires us to give our everything for. A second reading of Ayn Rand’s Fountainhead will also help (but we need make sure we follow Howard Roark and not Peter Keating!)

So who are the guys of truth?

Those folks you know exactly for what they are – would be the ideal ”truth guys”. They don’t have to agree with you necessarily – but should have the maturity to be able to “agree to disagree”. They also dont have to be folks with skyscraper IQs or experiences. They should however be as invested in the success of the organization and be willing to embrace the cause as much as you are. They should be able to point out any errors (to their supervisors, friends, colleagues and their teams) and be open to receiving feedback as well – so a more open and transparent culture gets formed. It is these guys who rock when times are tough or when a transformation is underway. You need these guys. And if you are ”one such individual” yourself, time to pat yourself on the back – you are well on your way to being part of a very positive movement…

This make sense? Am I missing another patterns?…


  1. Excellent Note Subra.Liked very much on “Truth Guys” and “Goody Goody Guys”. Goody Goody guys are “Yes Men” who raises ego of the individual or supervisor very much, because they want to be so nice to their immediate supervisor and peers. In the long run, people will consider “Goody Goody Guys” as “Take it for Granted” for all the decisions. There are situations where “Truth Guys” growth in the IT Organisations will take time, however the growth will reap many benefits in later.

  2. Awesome read; couldn’t help wondering the reads last couple of weeks make me think a lot, including about me fitting in those characters of my read 🙂

    There is this book by Robert I Sutton, “The Ass *** rules” describing about few variations of the traits you mentioned here. There is a common pattern of people who are so goody goody and on the other side of the fence is about getting the personal agenda done”.

    Still thinking where am I fitting in these traits 😉

    1. thx prakash – yes, evaluating our fit into such frameworks is a very enlightening exercise in itself!

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