Present thoughts, Sunday Reverie

Personal Mastery during Uncertainty

We all are intelligent emotional beings. This makes us special, because we can adopt, learn, unlearn and evolve. It’s not we don’t face uncertainty in life. However, most of the uncertainties of life are overlooked. Let me give a simple example. The probability of a bicycle failure is far less compared to an aero plane. However, we fear the most when we ride a bicycle on highway, because of the uncertainty of situation with respect to other drivers like a car, truck or van etc.

So, we assume those with least importance. Hence, we evolved ourselves as masters of pattern. We were educated that everything is good as long as we follow a certain pattern. The pattern is by repetition. This is called as habit. For example, from brushing our teeth in the morning, till we go back to bed on a regular week, we follow various time stamps throughout the day.

What misses, in this pattern is excellence? Pattern helps to forecast one’s mode of action, which was so important during industrial revolution. As it was manufacturing driven, people were modelled to follow a pattern. But in a knowledge driven economy, though pattern helps you have a compliance with respect to your work, excellence play an important role. Excellence means those small improvements which you do regularly over a period of time. This elevates you with respect to your workmanship. Treat your work as delivering an art.

During our regular working environment, the standard office hours we try to excel in our work. Because there was a certainty towards our job, work environment even life for that matter. But how do we focus and excel during uncertainty. How do we achieve personal mastery during uncertainty? When we are drowned in uncertainty paradox.

To answer this, we need to delve deep into a relatable past history. The specialty of history is, it has all the reference points for us to check. The interpretation is up to us. Let’s look into the history of World War II.

During the time of World War II, there was complete uncertainty. Raising from the loss of control in World War I, Germany was forming its alliances as well as capturing territories. WWII can be a classic case of Volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA). The term VUCA was taken from the leadership theories of Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus – to describe or to reflect on the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity of general conditions and situations.

  1. V = Volatility: the nature and dynamics of change, and the nature and speed of change forces and change catalysts.
  2. U = Uncertainty: the lack of predictability, the prospects for surprise, and the sense of awareness and understanding of issues and events.
  3. C = Complexity: the multiplex of forces, the confounding of issues, no cause-and-effect chain and confusion that surrounds organization.
  4. A = Ambiguity: the haziness of reality, the potential for misreads, and the mixed meanings of conditions; cause-and-effect confusion.

(Reference from Wikipedia for VUCA)

In such a scenario, the question raises in one’s mind is how the leaders navigated during these times? What would have been the traits of those leaders? Are there any learnings, that we can be adopted in our uncertainty times? Well, there are plenty. From those, I chose to present the top ten. The top ten, which can be an evergreen trait for personal mastery. Be it in your personal life or professional life or public life, these ten principles can elevate your game.

The ten gems of Personal Mastery are

  1. Always exhibit optimism.
  2. Own your responsibility
  3. Never give up
  4. Serve not Survive
  5. Think about Yourself
  6. Learn how to learn
  7. Art of Journaling
  8. The Influence of Words
  9. Moral Clarity
  10. Personal Courage

Always exhibit optimism

The best soldier the world has ever seen was General Marshall from Allied forces. According to him,

“When conditions are difficult, the command is depressed, and everyone seems critical and pessimistic, you must be especially cheerful and optimistic.”

General Marshall

Optimism is a happiness magnet. If you stay positive good things and good people will be drawn to you. Being optimistic is contagious in nature. Try being optimistic and see for yourself. You would be surprised to know, the kind of impact you leave on others, just being optimistic.

Fake it until you do it. When you feel your positivity is down or not naturally coming, pretend. Pretend as if its true. Acceptance of your own self is most important. Once you had acknowledged yourself, you would see, the optimism sprouts slowly as a shower. Use it to fight your mental stress or tiredness etc. Be positive. Be energetic. Show it in your voice. In your actions. You will soon realize the amount of impact it leaves on you and the people around you.

Own your responsibility

During the World War II, there was too much of chaos. The synergy wasn’t so strong and at the ground it was evident. But the success, was due to the ground forces. Though they were far from the strategy team. Their communication most of the times were hampered by the Axis forces. However, they had one common trait. They all owned their responsibility. Though there was uncertainty, ambiguity, they owned their responsibility. Every day, their only task was to inch closer to axis territory, with loyalty and humility.

The price of greatness is responsibility.

Winston Churchill

During the times of uncertainty, the best thing to do, let’s go behind our tasks. Knock the tasks one task at a time. This brings us focus and a sense of achievement. The more we own our responsibility; we gain traction and start to excel. Because, responsibility brings focus.

Never give up

Every day of WW II was like a perceived failure. The moment our perception looks in that direction, we feel to give up. General Marshall advices never give up. Never ever give up to the perception of failure. The persistence and quick adoption to every day scenario makes one successful.

Thus, built the attitude of never give up. There can be fatigue. There can loss of interest. There can be lethargy. In the times of volatility, let’s keep our focus to our task. Bring a routine. Make a plan and execute it. Repetition kills remiss. Start small. Regularly, let’s complete our task. Expand, explore and elevate.

Serve not Survive

One of the dilemma’s that gets into our mind during the tough times of complexity is how can I survive. The moment, we get into this thought, we lose our intent to empower ourselves. The foremost important things to do is to empower oneself. The way you can achieve this is by distracting our thoughts to our passion. Learn to serve our passion. Our interest. Our hobbies. Server yourself with empowerment. Not just to survive.

Your fear is 100% dependent on you for its survival

A small direction alignment, in the mind can change our course completely. We can feel we are uplifted. That energy shall be radiant enough, to spread to our near and dear ones. It’s that intent to distract oneself from the mode of survival to serve oneself. The moment we empower our self, we will start to empower others.

Think about Yourself

The most poignant thought is we never look into us. We always try to look into others. But it’s of utmost importance to look into ourselves. To be an observer. As an observer, of oneself, we can understand our traits and falls. Our strengths and weakness. The practice of looking at oneself, can be a way to groom oneself better.

The habits that we need to follow. The one’s we need to leave. When you don’t spend time with yourself, you are not going to know why you lack certain traits. Understanding about oneself, by themselves can be the greatest strength. That strength can build with your empathy for others.

Unless, we don’t do this, we will always be influenced by the situations and surroundings. We will never control ourselves to the repercussion of these events.

Learn how to learn

The greatest personalities who navigated through the tough times, were great readers. They learned the art of how to learn. This involves mainly to relearn and unlearn, whenever you wish to learn something new.

When we speak about WW II, we cannot forget Winston Churchill. Churchill was an average student during his school and college days. However, he developed his interest towards reading. Whenever Churchill got an opportunity to read, he sinks himself into large volumes. Starting with a 4000-page book of The Decline and the fall of Roman empire, during his free time, he started an ambitious journey. A journey where he covered the works of Adam Smith, Plato, Gibbon, Macaulay, Aristotle and many more. This helped him to shine bright than the brightest during his college as well as in his political career.

With the presence of internet, books are available everywhere. Let’s choose our interest towards the topics we like to read. Start reading 2 pages every day. Grow our interest. Buy the books and keep it next to us. Book mark those articles on our browser. Set an alarm for reading. Keep it as a reminder. When we read, we teach ourselves something that we presumed to know. When we read contrarian topics, we teach ourselves something that we assumed. Develop the art of learning.

Art of Journaling

The under rated work is art of journaling. Journaling need not be only about, our life’s events or capturing a day’s work. When we do journaling, we are actually reciting the course of our day. It gives a glimpse of how the events unfolded for us that day, can help us understand it better and share more insights.

When we are not interested to journal our daily day, we can simply capture our thoughts. Take simple notes. The quotes that we read from a book. The three good things of the day. I practice, the 3 good things of the day, because it helps me to appreciate the events and the things that I am blessed with. As I write down, it helps to share a positive vibe. However, be the day, those three good things, helps to cherish, value and be grateful.

Practice to write. Start every day. Capture the thoughts. The day’s events. Or the things we like that day. The things that affected us that day. Keep writing.

Influence by Words

We are conscious about the inner voice. A voice that’s monologue about our lives throughout the day. This inner voice, according to psychologists is proven as an effective way to build one’s confidence. The eminent leaders used these self-talks as a positive assurance to themselves. They practiced during their times of doubtfulness.

These self-talk with oneself can be supportive or positive and cheerful. It can be negative and self-defeating when we speak in a negative way. Assure our self, with positive words. Have our own recital poem or positive dialogue or slogan, which we can say to our self. This would be useful, as the words influence us to positivity, reducing our own fears and building the confidence.

Words are powerful. They have the immense force to create and build a moment to movement. Choose those wisely with in oneself.

A simple slogan be asI am positively strong

I am positively strong

I am courteous and noble

I am curious and humble

I will raise myself and deliver       

Moral Clarity

We all are involved in a moral struggle. This shall ultimately define our life’s value. WW II questioned and raised concerns towards Moral clarity. There is no better reference than Winston Churchill.

To quote from him,

You must look very deep into the heart of man, and then you will not find the answer unless you look with the eye of the spirit. Then it is that you learn that human beings are not dominated by material things, but by the ideas for which they are willing to give their lives or their life’s work

Winston Churchill

Thus, look into us for the values that we stand for. Nurture those values. Keep them safe. We might never know, as to when they would be our guiding force. We can face trials and tribulations in our life. During those, times it’s the moral clarity that defines us.

In times of volatility, the important aspect of personal mastery  to hold on to moral clarity is nothing but Personal Courage. The most important one of personal mastery. Let’s look into that strong and valuable final point.

Personal Courage

Courage is resistance to Fear. Mastery of Fear, not absence of Fear.

Mark Twain

Any eventualities lead to uncertainty. The vulnerability paves in fear. With fear, we lose the confidence. We lose focus. We start to deliberate the reason with in us, as to why we should not progress further. We hear the negative self-talks.

That’s the most important time, when we need to be courageous. Personal courage is contagious. When you are courageous, you send hope to the people around you. When you share hope, they start a belief. The belief that the things, shall turn around. That belief will push you and the one’s around you to start a journey. When the journey begins, the momentum starts. Thus, courage is a primary step. Keep the flame of courage always burning inside you.

optimism, Personal Excellence

You can defy and define the darkness like a candle

One of the worries as individuals or employees or as entrepreneurs, we come across is people who appreciate you with resentment. Let’s make a positive assumption that, they are not doing it on purpose. They are neither unkind nor mean. But this is common, amongst some peers, collegues or employees. We get pulled down on these thoughts. Sometimes, they eat into our productivity. It costs us a day. The question that immediately arises, how can we avoid these thoughts?

The first and foremost is acceptance of the people as they are. Once we know, that we have people like that around us , let’s accept them as they are. Because, the moment we delve into these thoughts, we can sense

  1. A kind of anger grows inside us
  2. We feel being cornered.
  3. We start to worry too much.
  4. We start to think how they have taken us for granted and drive us in a direction of becoming resentful like them.

What these kinds of thoughts leads us into? They ultimately destroys the peace inside us. We don’t give much of eye contact. We don’t show the good gesture towards them, when we happened to meet them. The best way to overcome is the candle’s philosophy of sharing is caring. I would like to narrate a story which I heard as a kid.

Quote by Dalai Lama

It was a stormy night. There was a little hut at the end of the street. In the hut stayed a father along with his cute little daughter. His daughter’s name was Anisha. As they were in dark, the father, went in search of matchstick. Once he returned, he lit a candle. It was so bright. The hut was glowing by the light from one little candle. Suddenly there was a thunder strike. Anisha, hearing the sudden sound screamed. The lightning was so bright, she was scared. As the wind blew in their little hut, the candle light flew off. Her father, again lit the candle.

Anisha, asked “Father, why do you light only one candle? We have so many, why don’t you light all?”

The father said, “This is the best of all the candles”.

She asked “how?”

The father replied, “This candle is called as Hope. The one which can hold on against all challenges and be positive to believe that the storm will stop”.

Anisha, asked “Okie Father. If it is hope, they why can’t we lit all other candles at the same time”.

The father replied “Only when there is hope, all other things can exist. Without hope, nothing can prevail in this storm”.

He further added “The candle of hope, can show us to have faith in what we believe. As we have faith, it shows love and empathy. It guide’s you to peace. With peace, comes joy and happiness. Fulfillment and serenity. Acknowledgement and acceptance. Forgiveness and fortitude. Thus be a candle of hope. Once you be the guiding force as hope, you can light all the candles and make it bright for all the one’s you meet in your life.”

Anisha, believed and lived as a candle of hope.

As in the story above, let us be a candle of hope. Let’s believe, in our work of excellence. It cannot be ridiculed by resentful people. Let’s be positive and build ourself forward with a smile. An assurance that we will with stand the stormy nights as a candle of hope.

When we become the candle of hope, we can defy the darkness. We can define and light up, thee dark spaces. We as candle of hope, be as the light to show the light for the hopeless, the broken, the resentful, the painful people. The best way, is to keep doing our work of excellence. Let the excellence speak for itself. That will fill the world with hope. And us too. As a candle of hope, we never loose anything by lighting other candles.

CoVID, Sunday Reverie

Uncertainty Paradox – How to navigate through this.

Uncertainty Paradox – This word occurred as a spark. When the CoVID situation was spreading all over the world, for the first time, this word striked in me. There was curiosity to know, with in me, how did I land up with this word. I just saved this word. Left it over for more than 2 months. Whenever, I was in discussion with my clients, or read an article or with my colleagues, as they explain the situation, I happened to quote this, without much of deep knowledge on this. This led to research, as to What is Uncertainty paradox?

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

Uncertainty refers to the impossibility of exact predictions. This leads to a paradox. Uncertainty is always associated with two things. One is risks and the other, it’s based upon precautionary principles. Let’s first try to understand about risks. Risks actually are the calculable acts that can lead to a certain result in case of uncertainties. Risks analyzed from the point of the uncertainty generally has a controllable factor associated with it. That’s when you hear the word calculated risk. However, risk as a word evolved through history meaning danger.

Uncertainty generally refers to the inability or the impossibility to have proper predictions. Risks, rather than looking into the literal meaning of danger, in all practical scenarios is the possible negative consequences that can happen due to uncertainty. Now let’s relate this to an example. With CoVID situation, when the government announced lockdown, it immediately paved way to uncertainty. The reason being, we as humans are used to relate everything to time factor. When will the shop open? When will the school reopen? When will my education get over? When will be my final loan installment?

However, when we heard the news of government announcing the lockdown. We were worried immediately about the timeline. As not definitive timeline was announced. It gave way to uncertainty. There was no clarity as to when we will get back to work. Since, suddenly exposed to the fact of uncertainty, without a binding time factor, it led to a paradox. Each of us started to base our conclusion, upon our understanding of the uncertainty. For example, let relate to the news, that country X relaxed the lockdown after 2 months. After sever attack from the virus. Based upon this, we relate that our country has just started to test, probably we will have 3-4 months to reach such a volume. Hence, this is going to take much more time. Probably the lock down would be there for another 4-5 months. This is how uncertainty works towards a conclusion, in which none of the factors are certain. However, they seem to be so right, a kind of paradox. Hence, this raised the factor of risk.

With no clarity in place, when the lockdown was announced, we happened to see people filling their home with more than two months of supplies. Risk which needs to be analyzed as a factor of uncertainty suddenly transformed as a danger.

Businesses when they expand or change markets or launch a new category of products, they would always say calculated risk. They generally work on their business plan and probable revenue relating to expansion or new product launch or scenarios similar to this.. However, they will not be able to gauge the market, even though they do a sampling. The way market reacts after the product launch can be completely different. Hence, they say it’s a calculated risk. However, as risk in that scenario is already a calculated and controllable one. The reason is, the business entities would have planned it as a separate ship, at an arm distance from the mother ship. Incase if it sinks, they have taken all the precautionary measures. The precautionary measures that doesn’t bring down the mother ship. A risk due to the uncertainty.

I have a classic example to share. This relating to the case of Pepsi and Coca-Cola. Pepsi market share was raising. It was close to 30% in 1985. This growth led to threatening of the market leader Coca-Cola, that it might lose it’s leading position. In order to avoid losing the market share, Coca-Cola introduced something new called as New Coke. The New Coke was smoother, sweeter in taste than the regular coke.

Coca-Cola thought this shall help to control the slide in its market share. Though it was launched by sampling where during the sample test the results were good. However, upon launch, Coca-Cola realized that people didn’t like the new coke. Only 13% liked the new one. Coca-Cola fans became angry to such an extent they ran a campaign and pushed Coca-Cola to bring its old Coke. Indeed, within 77 days, Coca-Cola launched its original Coke under the name of Classic Coke.

Coca-Cola saw an uncertainty, when its market share was sliding. Hence, it took a risk the one as calculated and controllable. The calculated risk proved to be a bigger failure and it was able to control it by bringing the Classic Coke.

Though the business community calls these as precautionary measures, I feel this would have evolved from the second factor related to uncertainty, the precautionary principles. The precautionary principle pertains to uncertain risks. These risks are not, or at least not fully, calculable and controllable. The reason being he probability of occurrence or the effect in terms of damage cannot be estimated. In this kind of situation, even the potential danger and the resulting causalities may not be established. Though there are suspicions of danger. I can see, that you are visualizing the current CoViD situation and this thought seems to fit so well.

When faced with an uncertainty paradox, how can we navigate through it. For this, we need to go and understand how policies are framed. That shall give us the guidance, the tools to navigate uncertainty. For policies to be rolled out, they generally look at evidence. A policy to be framed, initially is run as a programme or scheme. Based upon the development of the programme and its impact a policy is formed. The policy considers the amounts of information and knowledge that happened during the programme development stage. Thus, evidence-based policies depend on two main factors of information – A solid evidence (information) and which is appropriate. As the policy is rolled out based upon evidence, they also at least plan to have strong administration, assessment and dissemination of policy. But in reality, very few cases succeed to this level.

Thus, an approach suggested by Anouk S. Rigterink and Mareike Schomerus, referred as authors henceforth, in their evidence-based policies is 4P’s – Proof, Plausibility, Principle and Possibility. Now let’s see, how this can help oneself in addressing the uncertainty paradox.

A fool proof knowledge

one has to establish a clear

distinction between

right and wrong.

Anouk S. Rigterink and
Mareike Schomerus

Proof – According to the authors, to have a fool proof knowledge one has to establish a clear distinction between something that is right and wrong. This makes a plan in reference to a time, to be right. This approach they name it as to evidence proof. Now, let’s relate this thought to uncertainty. When we face uncertainty, one of the things we can work upon is, instead of getting fearful, trying to identify evidence proof. That is the scenarios or incidents that have close relevance to the uncertainty that we currently face. History always repeats in a different form. The closer we are able to study and relate the past facts, from our own life to the historical facts, we can have a proof in hand. This helps us to build the logic of reasoning. The moment, we approach the same uncertainty with an evidence proof, relative to logic of reasoning, we can avoid the panic and fear.

Plausibility – Plausibility, as per the author’s description is not proof, but is broader than most current definitions of evidence. An argument that a policy can plausibly work may include retrospective proof from other contexts (proof that it was a right thing, done in a right way, at some other time and/or in some other place). But plausibility goes beyond this: it has to demonstrate that it is probable that the policy can work in another time and at another place.

An example can be, applying for a job interview. Let’s assume we are applying for a position for office assistant. We don’t have much experience regarding the same. One of the approach, we generally take is, discussion with friends or common connections who are working as an office assistant. We also, try to get the information through network, who might be the interviewer, what kind of questions generally they ask, etc. This clearly gives a view, that the evidence is not a direct link to us, it had happened in the past and we try to forecast the same for us. This helps us better to be prepared to face the situation.

Principle – Principles can be considered as the concepts of hope. They can be the quotes or proverbs or guidelines that we had heard multiple times. We grew with those as our light house guiding us during our tough times.

The authors covey that, the proof is useful to evaluate whether a past policy has obtained its goals. Plausibility details whether it is likely that a proposed policy will obtain its goals. However, neither tells us whether these goals were worthwhile in the first place, or how different goals should be prioritized.

A simple relevance to the principles can be seen in World War 2. When the coalition soldiers were badly hurt due to the war in the Nazi territories, most of citizens in those countries, supported the soldiers. Took care of them, medicated them and helped them to recover. This was because of underlying human emotion of empathy. A principle which had grown with us over the centuries. The same way, when we are in the mix of uncertainty, a strong statement which we say to ourselves is “This too shall pass”. A principle that had evolved over the centuries, that nothing stays forever.

Possibility – When we are in dark, surrounded with uncertainty, we have to think through options. They always say, the best options or solutions emerge in times of constraint. According to the authors, Principle might help us to have a more honest discussion of the goals. Proof and plausibility emphasize finding out what has worked somewhere, and what could plausibly work in the future.

However, principle, proof and plausibility can only show us what had worked before or what have been tried before.

Possibility, the forth option, can throw us a way to navigate. This might be all new, which was neither been adopted or an example that was not in place with anyone. As with everyone, one’s life is unique to themselves. Thus, you might find a way possible to navigate through the constraint.

Her never give up

attitude and the

possibility to reach

her village

An appropriate recent example is the one I would like to share here. When the CoVID lockdown was announced in India, there was a challenge within migration workers. India as you all aware, is a country of multiple states. People from one state travel to other state and work depending upon the nature of their skillset. In one case, a girl working as labor in a construction industry came under the same lockdown situation. Her mom was sick, and they couldn’t stay in the state where they were working. Because of lockdown, their existence and the fear pushed them to the brim of life.

When there was complete lockdown on travel and all necessities, she saw a possibility of going to her village. Her village is 1200km away. The possibility she saw was to ride a bicycle and reach the village along with her sick mom. Indeed, she reached cycling down 1200km. This shows her never give up attitude and at the same time, a possibility that I can reach my village by bicycle. When most of them didn’t think about the same.

Thus, during the times of uncertainty, lets us not be tied to fear. Let’s not get bowed down due to the pressure of unknown. We can choose from the above 4P’s – Proof, Plausibility, Principle and Possibility to navigate the situation. Though these are points which are used for framing policies, I believe one of the P’s or a combination of those can be that light house during the storm in the sea of life to reach our destination. A light of hope.

Referrence

Probing for proof, plausibility, principle and possibility: a new approach to assessing evidence in a systematic evidence review – Development Policy Review 34 (1) – Journal articles or issues

Development Policy Review, 2016, 34 (1): 5–27

optimism, Personal Excellence

Problems are not stop signs, they are guidelines

How many times, have you across this statement? But why is that every time, when you face a problem, you always feel much worried. You sometimes get into fear zone, you get anxious and sometimes you belittle yourselves. One of the reason, is you overestimate the problem. The ability which you have, to solve a problem is far more greater than, the problem itself. Most of the occasion, the reason you fear a problem is because of uncertainty paradox, the problem possess at that point in time. So how do we navigate through any problem. I would call it as APPLE approach. For each of the state I will try and relate a scenario, which can be of close relevance. Help you to look at the problem from a different angle and use them as a guidelines to navigate it.

The Apple approach involves the following

  1. Acceptance
  2. Puzzle
  3. Perception
  4. Learning
  5. Engage

Acceptance – The first and foremost is when you face a problem, face the problem. At the first instance, accept to yourself that you are in a problematic situation. Hiding away or disowning the problem, is not going to elude you away from problem. It’s only going to make it worse. Let’s assume, you have lost the job. You have credit card dues to be paid. You are slipping on your payments. But when the credit collection guy follows up with you relating to the payment, not picking the call is going to mount internal pressure on you. At the other end, the call agent is going to record that, you haven’t taken the call multiple times. The best way is to accept the situation, accept the reality and accept the fact that you will not be able to pay it this month. Once, you have accepted it, you can handle the call better rather than getting panicked about the call.

We cannot change anything, unless we accept it

Carl Jung

Puzzle – Once you accept the problem, you will get to know there are many puzzles that exist with the problem. There are many unanswered questions. Proceed one step at a time. Acceptance bring you a clarity as to what is that you can act upon immediately. Relating to the same example of job loss, the acceptance of the problem, make you to think what is that you need to do? One step at a time, whom you can reach out to seek help to refer you for a job, where you can apply or how can you quickly adopt yourself, to engage in a part time work.

Thus, you would have realized, the puzzles started to pave ways, when you started to work on what is in hand at that point in time. Anything will still remain a puzzle, if it is after 1 week or a month or even a year. Hence, focus on the current point in time activity, so that you are not puzzled and struck because of the problem.

Remember, even the hardest puzzles have a solution.

Perception – The moment you get into a problem, you face fear. The fear leads to bad visualization of something that’s not in existence. It implants in your head a visual which you get worried much about. This is not even in existence in the first place. Hence, start to perceive positivity. Think positively, how the situation can turn around. Think, what if the rental owner accepts my request for delayed rent payment for the next couple of months. Visualize the same. You would be surprised for sure, how this can turn the course of the events.

It’s not so easy to build positive visualization at tough times. But the speciality, is that the positive visualization acts far more stronger during tiring times. They send those positive vibes of energy around you. The energy around us reflects the vibe what we carry. You would realize whenever you are happy, you carry a positive vibe while when you are sad, you carry a negative vibe. Practice it. Associate yourself with positive vibes. Always bounce back swiftly and quickly like a tennis ball.

Thoughts become perception. Perception becomes reality.

Learning – Every problem is placed in front of you to teach you a lesson. You cannot really know what’s the future would be for you. However, you can plan, how the future has to unfurl itself. The best way, is to carry the learnings from the problems. When you slip on credit card payments, it gives a clear lesson that you spend more than you earn and we don’t control those unplanned purchase. However, this would also teach you, the better you start to save, you would be in better position to face the challenges. That’s the lesson. Start saving.

Every problem when it occurs, can also show you who helped you; the books that inspired you; that dialogue from the movie which pushed you to act; the Starbucks delivery person, who passed on a smile on your worst day, to cheer you up. Look into every bit of activity in those tough times, and each would be an act of kindness, love and support you would have received. Do pay it forward with good gesture, because you would never knew, when you might need it for yourself.

Learning is so wonderful, when it’s from our own life experiences, because we can be mentors to the one who faces it.

Engage – Finally, once you had faced the problem and came out of it do engage yourself to move yourself forward. Don’t be holding on to the same forever. This relates when you loose someone in your life. When you miss your loved one, due to unforeseen situation, it takes time to recover. Take your time. But never hold on there. Because, you might be that light for someone, whose candle is yet to be lit. Gather your hope. Build your strength. Engage yourself again with this beautiful world. Every loss cannot be answered with a purpose. But we can build a purpose out of it, to ensure we can be a guiding force to someone.

“When the Japanese mend broken objects they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold, because they believe that when something's suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful.”  -Barbara Bloom
Image source – pin interest https://bit.ly/2TU0Ilg

You can turn out to be a transformation agent for someone out there. You are never alone in your problem. There are so many people out there similar to you. The only thing is that, you don’t know who they are. Advance yourself with optimism. Embrace it. Be empathetic, so your compassion can help someone. Consider the experience as a thread stitching your broken pieces together. Something similar to Japanese kintsugi – meaning golden repair. In Japanese art of kintsugi, the broken objects are not something to hide but to display with pride. Embrace and engage. Believe once you sail through a problem, you would be far more different, matured and glowing as like this kintsugi. For your information, everyone in this world is a kintsugi. Some glow, because they share; mostly others don’t. Let you be that candle. A candle that looses nothing by lighting other candles.

Personal Excellence

Analyze your thoughts

Thoughts are like those different seashells. The way the seashells gets pushed to the seashore, thoughts occur the same way in our life. Most of them again gets pulled in by the waves. The one’s you catch can be grouped together to make great products. Do you know, a common man can make minimum 39 different varieties of products from a seashell. The reference to thoughts as seashell carries value. Let’s understand about seashell and relate to thoughts.

Seashells generally grow bottom up. They are like the exoskeleton. Every seashell carries unique patterns. These shells acts as protective homes for the soft inhabitants. The visually striking patterns are used to attract a mate or provide camouflage.

Shell patterns carry the complete history. They represent as what had happened at the shells’ growing edge. They are like a diary.

Like the seashell, our thoughts are by those nerve sparks that creates it. Each thought has its own origin. Mostly at the initial stage of formation, they are not so stable. They can be easily destroyed similar to the wave current for the seashells, for us it’s the situation current. The time at which the thoughts gets formed.

The Seashell life can be related to 3 stages of our thougths.

  1. The formation stage
  2. The dead stage
  3. The life stage.

Formation Stage of Seashell can be related to the future stage of thoughts. When the conditions of formation are not suitable for seashell, they don’t get formed. These can be due to the varying nature of of the wave beds where are they getting formed, the wave currents and the wave heat as well as pressure or the hijacking hunters of the ocean.

Similarly when your thoughts are focussed on to future, you are living in an environment in your mind that’s so fragile. The thoughts hallucinates you, of realism, of aspirations, or in most cases related to stress induced fear, anxiety etc. Though the thoughts of future are not concrete, they can get shattered immediately once your current environment changes. Simple correlation would be, when you are on a vacation on Mauritius beach, you live in a scenic environment. Most of the time, you would visualize your life being beautiful and even planning as to how it would it be, when you plan to live by a beautiful seashore. The moment your vacation gets over, you come back to reality. With in few days, you totally forget about the future lifestyle that you were building as pack of cards at Mauritius. The future thoughts when captured and held properly can turnout to become beautiful seashells. But mostly we leave those to fall and they vanish with time.

The dead stage of seashell are the one’s where they get pushed into the seashore. These are scattered all over on the seashore. In this stage, the mussels or the oyster or the clam have died either full-filling their journey or failing along its course. They become the remnants of the past. Similarly the thoughts of the past are the dead stage. The reason is, in no way we can go and correct the course. The one that happened as good, are to be rejoiced while the bad ones are just a scar, an experience. But never to dwell in those for long, because they don’t drive you forward. They just hold you.

Formation of a pearl. Referrence Natgeo Wild.

The life stage is where the pearls are made. Pearls are formed naturally when an irritant – in general a parasite – gets into an oyster, mussel, or clam. In order to protect similar to a defense mechanism, a fluid coats the irritant. It’s called as ‘nacre’ as it is coated layer upon layer. It’s deposited once a shining pearl is formed. Your present thoughts are similar to those. The irritants are like your hardships. The more you focus on the current one in hand, you will gain results. The results can be simple work completion, to a happy dinner with family or a time by yourself in the evening watching the sunset.

Life is a mixture of all these stages. All these thoughts. You cannot do away with one another. They are here to stay. The present thought in the current moments keeps you in the moment. The future when aligned with the present, helps you to work your way up. Grab your steps in a planned way to reach your goal. The past can be just a guiding force, when its an experience. The more the present, it keeps you at the peace and with a percentage of future should act as a guiding force to reach your goal. The past has to be minimalistic. When you forget about your past, you are bound to repeat your mistakes again.

Above all, the only thing you have to heal is the present thought. Get that right and the whole picture will change into one of harmony and joy.

Eckhart Tolle

Professional Growth

Plan, Organize, Integrate, Motivate & Measure – Part 1

The topic is a valuable statement from the management thought leader Peter F Drucker. This can be looked both from the management parlance as well as from a personal mastery perspective.

Planning

Planning is all about the steps to be taken towards achieving a vision. Vision is future imprint that an organization or a team or an individual visualized as a goal. Thus planning considers the current conditions in which the team operates or the individuals execution capabilities. The planning takes into account different factors. For an organization it considers,

  1. The market in which they operate.
  2. The economic conditions of the market.
  3. The competitors and their competitors.
  4. Their customers.
  5. Forecasts.
  6. Critical contingencies.

When it comes to individuals, the above factors do apply, but within their area of execution. For personal mastery seekers or budding entrepreneurs, the points that needs to be considered are

  1. The capability of the individual.
  2. The subject they are passionate about.
  3. The evolving opportunities and the influencers.
  4. The knowledge bearer.
  5. Their adoption window.
Personal mastery assessment framework

The main purpose of planning is to establish objectives. The goals that needs to be achieved and by when to be achieved. When planning, you would also need to take into consideration, what can be the alternative course of action, incase you face challenges. Planning should also have the steps or the task breakdown at a higher level.

Let’s assume that you would like to start blogging and to reach larger audience. Then you need to plan for the next fortnight, what would be the topic on which you would write the blogs, the frequency in which you would release the blogs and where these blogs fits in, with respect to your overall vision about you. Also, are there any backup blog drafts in place, incase for some reason, you are not able to focus on this blog.

Similarly, in an organization, a team has to plan for their task delivery. Let’s assume as case where in the team has to collect the the feedback from the employees related to CoVID situation. So, the team has to split and own, the following: The employees to be targeted across various departments, the channel in which the survey could be conducted, the time duration during which the survey is being planned, what is the end result the organization is looking from this survey and hence the kind of questions that needs to be framed, how the survey can be launched, if there is some system issues how would we mitigate.

The most important step about planning, is that at every progress stage you have to check, how much it is aligned with respect to the plan, what is needed to be tweaked or re-aligned, when its not aligned towards the original goal. Also, you need to do an impact analysis, What if, I leave halfway of my goal or what if the team fails to deliver.

The planning can be of different types depending upon the stage at which they happen.

Strategic Planning – This happens as an actionable item, once the vision is formulated. Strategic planning generally has long time window, generally from 3 years to 10 yrs. However for individuals, you can consider from anywhere 6 months to 2 years. Strategic planning be it for the organization or the individual can change their course of growth completely. When John F Kennedy announced in 1961, within a decade we will have a man on the moon – This is a vision statement. They were able to land successfully on the moon, as they started to plan for each and every step along with a fall back scenario. Two things that I would like to relate here are

  • JoAnn Morgan, the instrumentation controller in Launch Control at the Kennedy Space Center, recalls that there were 23 critical things that had to occur perfectly for the mission to be successful. That is a strategic plan to achieve a goal.
  • Collins who was part of the crew in the lunar mission, orbiting the moon in the mother ship, clearly know that if something happens to the crew which lands on the moon, ie to Neil Armstrong & Edwin Aldrin, he has to comeback leaving them on the moon. That’s the fallback option if a catastrophe occurs.
The view of Earth from the surface of the Moon during the Apollo 11 mission. Source: –https://www.nationalgeographic.com/photography/proof/2017/07/apollo-missions-nasa-lunar-moon-landing/

Tactical planning – This for an organization is of intermediate range like one to three years. For personal mastery, it can be considered anywhere between 90 -180days. For example, you would like to publish a book of poems. Then you start writing minimum 2 poems per day for the next 90 to 180 days. That brings you to 180 or 360 poems. Now you have a collection of poems, which you can further be amended and corrected to be launched as a book

Operational planning – This is short form of delivery towards the tactical milestones. In operational planning in an organization, you can generally find the department teams or the project units working on their day to day tasks aligned with the wider goal of half yearly or the annual goals. An individual should refer to this as his or her weekly or day to day tasks. Relating to the same example above, in order to write two poems every day, you need to identify the topics or category in which you would write poems for this week. Say for example the poems in week one relates to nature, week two relates to humanity etc. You are likely to spend everyday 2-3hrs to write couple of poems on this topic. This helps to design and develop steps that is aligned with the larger vision through the strategic and tactical plans.

As this being a 5 part series blog, you can follow up on this topic every thursday.

Personal Excellence, Task delivery

Busyness means that you are not in control of your time

“Don’t be so busy, trying to make a living that you are too busy to make a life”

A simple and powerful quote to speak about being busy. Most of the times, in our day to day life, we get ourselves busy. We wakeup in the morning with the news alerts to office email alerts; then as we get ready to office, we are busy with the calendar alerts to the calls for the day; Once we reach office we are busy with the workload and at the end of the day we try to close all the pending activities, which we eventually procrastinate for tomorrow or few days away. This didn’t include all the activities which would be on priority in your personal life. Those gets pushed towards the weekend. When the weekend happens, we suddenly realize it flew away like anything and we are back into our regular mundane routine.

So, how do we avoid being busy. Busyness in my perspective comes from inability to prioritize your tasks. A simple comparison between being busy and being productive is, as below.

A simple comparison between being busy and being productive.

A quick look into being busy aspect of our day to day life throws us a much needed clarity

  1. Multiplicity – By Multiplicity, I mean working on varied number of things at any point in time. Simple example can be filling the form at office and at the same time, quickly tweeting about a thought; then leaving your desk to grab a coffee.
  2. Haphazard – There is not a proper way in which we work. That is we don’t block the time for a specific activity. We would be typing a contractual document, would have received an email alert; would pause our work on the document and proceed towards replying the email. In the due time a slack message or the teams chat update, we try to give a quick response.
  3. Quantity – The biggest block which we need to break within ourself is the quantity factor. Over the course of time, we start to believe its the number of tasks we completed than the quality of the work. The quantity factor without realization, would push us to accept as many as possible. At the end of the day, it’s not the quantity that counts but the quality.
  4. Scattered Work – With volume of task or work to be completed, we find ourselves as in an election room. The reason I refer to election room, there is work scattered everywhere. Documents lying on the table for review, multiple windows of tabs always opened on the screen, our official as well as our personal to do list keeps on growing everyday; even our workspace at home are scattered with all the files both online as well as offline.
  5. Work in Waves – This reflects two main points. The task closure and delivery of tasks. We can see that, we would be working continuously to complete a task or work when the deadline nears and during that time, we would also focus to pull in other tasks so that we don’t get into the same trap again. Incidentally, what happens in reality is, post the deadline or extension of the deadline we start to procrastinate. Take a break till the next pressure mounts for the same. Break the momentum. This style of working is similar to a wave pattern, with multiple ups and downs. The ups are our pressure points and downs are our procrastination points.
  6. Impulsive – The larger culprit of busyness is being impulsive. Being impulsive in delivery of task not only puts us at stake, even the team at stake. The reason is there is no proper predictability as to which task we might complete and by when; hence any task closure be it personal or official gets into this impulsive behavior depending upon the urgency and personal interest.

Thus, we can understand by this time, that being busy doesn’t add any value. It’s like spiraling water current, that pulls us down forever. The best way is to be productive. We shall look into that as a separate blog.

To conclude, busyness kills all the priorities for not planning properly. Hence, when we are busy, we are not in control of time. Time controls us as per the urgency than priority.

Professional Growth, Task delivery, Teamwork

Your work be your Gift

Happiness doesn’t result from what we get,

but from what we give.

In our day to day work, we carryout the task in a mundane way. The reason has nothing to be blamed on us. It just happens to be repetitive. Being repetitive, reduces the charm in the task. The mind gets to feel, that there is nothing much new that can be done with the task.

Now, let’s think the same task from a different angle. Every task or job can be a starting point for some other task for a receiver. Or its a final product release to a customer. When you look from the point of receiver, as how your task delivery can improve his receiving capability, you would get ideas. Let’s look at different areas in our regular office environment, where the scenario can be build up better.

  1. A good morning smile always by the receptionist whole heartedly.
  2. A good morning wish or well wishing statement to the office boy or to your office cleaner as how are you? and how was your day? will lite up his or her day.
  3. The delivery of task confirmation to your peer, with a good day note.
  4. Concluding a regular project group call, with a small positive note even though the team’s performance was not up to the mark.
  5. Sharing smiling snippets with your partner or kids as they are back from their office work or school work.

There can be multiple other cases, which you can think of and make it better. Once you start to do this, the receiver feels value. A sense of relativity. They feel, whatever they are receiving is of good work. That’s when the task you are delivering becomes a gift. When you start to treat your task as delivering an art, you become impeccable.

Thus your task turns out be an art. An art that just isn’t paint. It’s love. When you love what you do, you value the work from the receiver’s perspective. How the receiver would feel happy on receiving the work from me?. How they would love to cherish my work? Would like to hear from you about your task delivery. How are you making your receiver happy in receipt of your tasks.

optimism, Personal Excellence, Teamwork

Repeat your thoughts to actions

Actions speak louder than words. The phrase that we had heard multiple times. The phrase that had grown with us, irrespective of our understanding about the same. Have you ever looked into your actions? What made you to act? What pushed you to perform a task?

As you deep dive into this, you would understand that, its your thoughts. Think about a simple scenario. Cleaning of your house. There is an upcoming long holiday. You would have said to yourself, that you would clean the house during that time. You would have repeated the same with your family members or friends, whomever you share you accommodation with. If you had been staying alone, like me, you would say it to yourself.

When the holiday comes, you would feel bit lazy. You would think, let me do it tomorrow. But suddenly, when you think that you would clean the house, which you had said to yourself, you quickly swing into action. The action is a result of your repeated thoughts. Thus, once you had cleaned your house, you feel a sense of fulfillment. It clearly proves, that when you repeat your thoughts again and again, it gets into action. This remains the same across any field. In a relationship, the heated arguments happen just because of the repeated thoughts that ran in our brain. That’s the reason, we burst out one fine day. Similarly, politicians and media uses the same strategy to repeat their agenda or advertisement again and again. This gets registered and connected in our life as thoughts. When there is a call to action like supporting a cause or buying a product, these thoughts quickly push us to action. Thats when you buy a specific brand of chocolate or that ticket to support a cause.

When you have a work to do or task to complete, visualize the same as an end result. How that task would benefit you or your office upon completion? How much workload for that, day would have got reduced. The moment you happened to do so, you would have realised that the one which you procrastinated during the first half of the day, you would start to work in the second half post that coffee. We attribute it to the coffee, which made you brisk to complete the task. But actually, it’s the thought that got that spark in your subconscious mind to get the job done. Coffee was just an instrument. Had you been drinking tea, it would have been tea too.

Your only limit is your thoughts. The way you think, defines your action.

History, Personal Excellence

History is by most motivated

I remember the lines by Marthin Luther King, when I think about History.

We are not makers of History. We are made by History.

This quote is of significant importance to our title today. Martin Luther King felt the pain of racism. He fought for the civil rights. He understood, that the current situation of him at his point in time in America, was because of the past history. That’s were this quote by him makes a splash.

However, he didn’t accept the history to push him down. He wanted to change it. He dreamt about a better future. A better society with equal rights. A society without racism. That’s how “I have a dream” his remarkable speech was born. Today, if we all are enjoying the fruits of better life, better education, better livelihood compared to the past, it’s because of leaders like Martin Luther King who changed the course of History. Gandhi was motivated enough with his ahimsa principle to bring in freedom to India. Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma, was awarded noble prize for her non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights. The burmese people feel the freedom of life in their country, its because of Suu Kyi.

History doesn’t mean the larger cause alone. If you are living a life of better livelihood, had opportunity to have good education and a comfortable life, then somewhere along the line, it might be your parents or grandparents who took the challenge upon themselves of writing a better life for you. Motivation is intrinsic. However, when you are clear as to what it can benefit others, then you create history within your circle of influence. 

As a quote says,

We are here to create history. Not repeat it.

Lets be motivated enough to create history. A history that shall be good to other others.