Many years ago, I was writing a book about authentic leadership and was obsessed with the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, who we all know, is Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. His grandson, RajMohan Gandhi, was lecturing at a local university and I jumped at the chance to see him and engage him in dialog. Back in my mind, I knew that if I did, he may endorse my new book.

As I entered the hall, I felt the torture of my conscience and the irony that I was trying to manipulate a great leader into a book endorsement for authentic leadership. Instead of moving to the front to tackle him, I realized that I was my own witness and I needed to enter in humility and move to the back where I truly belong.

But as coincidence would have it, I walked right into RajMohan himself who looked me right in my eyes and asked me why I was attending. I replied honestly explaining my motives and explained my anguish. He smiled and asked if I was free for dinner that night. In shock and realizing that the heavens were conspiring to teach me a lesson, I agreed.

At dinner, I was just settling in my chair when RajMohan asked me the question that would transform my perspectives. He asked, “Mohan, you are named after my grandfather, what do you do for the world?” I can only remember how I was feeling at that time because my mind was in a trance trying to dissect the question into analytic parts and respond. I tried to bring my best to this question yet it seemed I could not justify my name. In a sense, he reminded me of my namesake and the power bestowed to this name that by my existence I was eroding.

Many years followed of self inflicted meditation and research. Then one night I awakened with just one word. Cause. It was then that I began to realize that causes supplant and animate our lives into destiny. We seem so mission driven in our lives and are directed to reduce our intentionality to a few goals and a few actions; to titrate our existence into finite steps towards our goals. These are good thing except we must understand the why behind the what that we do.

Causes are taken while missions are given to individuals. Causes animate your desire to serve others beyond yourself while missions tell us what we should do for ourselves. Causes animate our soul while missions energize our hearts and minds. Causes are usually larger than us while missions are within our power to achieve and actionable. Causes bring out our destiny and missions get us to our goals. Both are important ingredients to Uncovering ourselves.

So what should your cause be? Or are you already living it?

PS: I never published my book on leadership because I realized I did not learn the lessons I wrote about. I did publish three other books the last one on transformation. The journey continues.


  • Mohan Nair

    Author, Healthcare/entrepreneur professional, music maker

    Author, Strategic Business Transformation (Wiley & Sons) and two other books. Chief Innovation Officer of large healthcare solutions company and former President of three startups. Former Adjunct Prof of Management at JL Kellogg School of Management. Focused on personal and business transformation and of course Innovation mindsets. Lost at America’s Got Talent.  Music compositions in album “Watching Waves”.