yah sarvatraanabhisnehastattatpraapya shubhaashubham |
naabhinandanti na dveshti tasya prajna pratishthitaa || 57 ||

He who remains without affection everywhere, is not elated in gain, and is not dejected in loss, his wisdom is steady.

yah : he who
sarvatra : everywhere
anabhisneha : without affection
tat tat : those
praapya : receive
shubha : gain
ashubham : loss
na : not
abhinandanti : elated
dveshti : dejected
tasya : his
prajna : wisdom
pratishthitaa : steady

In the prior shloka, we saw how a person of steady wisdom responds to joyful and sorrowful situations that he encounters in life. In this shloka, Shri Krishna points out how that person responds to beneficial and adverse outcomes of his expectations.

This shloka uses an interesting word “anabhisneha”, which means without affection. The root of this word is “sniha” which means “to stick”. Most of us tend to get stuck to objects, people and situations that we encounter in our lives. And it is that stickiness which gets us into trouble.

An example from the corporate world would be a consultant who is hired for a 3 month assignment verses a full time employee who is given a similar assignment. The consultant comes in, does what she is supposed to do, submits her report and moves on to the next assignment, without getting entangled in office politics. Whereas the employee gets “stuck” to the job and gets entangled in all kinds of office politics, who he should align himself with, etc.

So therefore, if one remains unattached and works towards a goal, he gains the objectivity to remain the same whether he succeeds or fails in accomplishing that goal. He knows that he was there before that success or failure happened, he was there during it, and he will be there after it as well. Therefore whatever happened can be easily dealt with. In no way does he let any adverse outcome demotivate him.

How can we apply this practically? For example, if we worked hard for a project and someone criticizes us, internally we should remain steady and evaluate whether the criticism is valid or mean-spirited. If it is valid, we take the feedback positively. If it is mean-spirited, we ignore it. But if we are too attached to the work, we will lose our equanimity each time someone criticizes us.