Volume III – Shakeshpeare babu keh gaye ‘To thine ownself be true’

Remember the story about the hare and the tortoise and the subsequent management versions. That particular story stayed on my mind for a long time during school days and for a number of reasons. Reason # 1 – I could not figure out the difference between Rabbit and Hare. Since childhood, I never came across this rabbit looking animal called hare and now he is interested in racing a tortoise … why? Reason # 2 – I tried visualizing it with a normal race that we as kids ran and could not recall a single instance when any of the kids slept or took a break while running … maybe that is why that particular animal is called hare (the rabbit who sleeps during the race). And the most important reason # 3 – It is not a fair deal. The rabbit who sleeps during the race cum hare did everything right and ran well. The tortoise did what it could do, it walked. So, why is this story so biased towards one particular animal?

The story would have taught us ‘Slow and steady wins the race’ but I guess our innocent minds also learnt an indirect lesson which was ‘How to compare’. We created our own hares and tortoises within the classroom and the parameters for comparison were mark sheets, grades, Remarks column and even sports and other activities. As we grew up, the parameters kept on increasing from number of dates, number of promotions, CTC, the car model and even ‘Likes’. So, is it a crime? Not exactly but it is a pardonable offence at least for me when in the pursuit of that next big mountain of life. Let me do a quick run through of my Enablers which will help me scale up the heights, (1) Challenge the proverbs, (2) Know yourself (3) Listen .. to your surroundings, people and most importantly your heart. And how many times do we conveniently not do this particular thing by saying, ’I’ve tried but it just doesn’t work out. Look at XYZ. I guess they are very lucky’.

At some stage of life we all follow the 3 Cs – Crib, Complain or Criticize and the source of all three lies with the mother C – Compare. How do you expect to listen to yourself or others for that matter if in the first place you are not going to stop comparing? Imagine if the Hare and the Tortoise has to be re-written and re-told. Once upon a time there was a rabbit that had the habit of sleeping during the race and was also called as Hare. His colleague was tortoise. Both decided to race. The hare ran fast obviously, however, after a certain point of time he got a bit overconfident and decided to take a small nap under the tree. The tortoise kept on walking without knowing that the hare had gone to sleep. When he saw the hare sleeping, he chuckled to himself and said ‘I hope he sleeps till I reach the finish line’. Tortoise won. Hare lost. So, my dear child, in today’s digital age of you-can-get-rich-fast, you can be hare or a tortoise as per your wish. But remember, not every hare will sleep and not every tortoise will walk so much.

You sleep. I walk.
You sleep. I walk.

As adults (I quite fancy this word as my first take from this word was only about adult movies:)), we are mature, grown-up people who still follow the childhood parameters of comparison. It reflects everywhere. The advertisement says ‘How is her Sari brighter than mine?’. ‘How can I become fair to attract the girls?’ … In our daily lives, ‘She is very close to the boss, no wonder she gets promoted.’ … ‘There are lot many better husbands and fathers out there, you don’t care for me’. … Best of all are all those Before-After series. Be young again like Shane Warne, get more hair. Be fit again like Hrithik, get more energy post thirty. Get 6+ inches (I know what you are thinking) long toothbrush to have the brightest teeth.

Deep inside you, a little voice would be saying that I am ok not being that fit or handsome. I just want to follow this dream of mine of joining a NGO and helping the needy and one day start a NGO of my own. This little voice is soon overshadowed by the high decibel noises made by your Comparison speaker which has its own music. Whether you listen to the jarring music and end up being something lot different from what your inner little voice always said, is your choice. By now, the difference would have been evident. It’s never too late though to stop comparing. And getting rid of its babies called as cribbing, complaining and criticizing. Be the hare. Be the adult you want to be. And watch the adult movie you have been yearning to see.

Volume II – Shakespeare babu keh gaye ‘To thine own self be true’.

It is easier said than done. Practice what you preach. .. Well these are the two proverbs or rather words of wisdom that I got from some near and dear ones post the release of my earlier Flog which talked about ‘Challenging the Proverbs’. And I am happy about these comments because the next enabler of my life is precisely that – Listening. So, let me first remove the rust from the inner linings of the brain and recall the first 2 enablers that are going to shape up my way ahead. The first one was ‘Challenge the proverbs’ which holds true only if the second enabler is in place ‘Know Yourself’. And though the cat is out of the bag already regarding the third enabler which is ‘Listening’ let me still put in perspective the importance of this oft used and abused word.

If the advertisements that you see on television are any indicator, then it won’t be that difficult for you to imagine this following sequence, ‘Pappu, finish your milk fast else you’ll get late for school’. Pappu is least disturbed by the sound waves created by her mother. 2 minutes have passed. ‘Pappu, what are you doing? Are you finishing your milk or not’? Apparently and obviously, the kid’s ears have started twitching and he knows for sure that in a few minutes the calmness of the room will be converted into a tropical thunderstorm. Yet the 5-year old something who is watching TV and fiddling with the remote control does not even try to life his butt towards the glass of milk. 3 more minutes have passed. ‘Pappu!! Do you want to be weak and get thrashed by other kids’? This methodology works to some extent and the hand has reached the glass of milk. But he is still not drinking. He has heard her mom and ignored her. Finally the threat of shutting off TV works to an extent that Pappu finishes at least 50% of milk.

So, what has really happened here? Nope. It is not the issue of not listening or lack of discipline or bad smell/taste of milk (which advertisers harp upon). It is something that is constant with all of us and is essential for our survival – Evolution. When we were kids, we listened to our parents about the importance of food and milk and threats were hardly required. As we grew up and with advent of Internet and Media, suddenly we realized that there is so much information in the world and not necessarily that all our parents, seniors, elders say about culture, health or even our well-being is correct. We have our own opinions and thoughts and more often than not, it floods the mind leaving very little space for the views of others. It is in this context, that ‘Non listener’ generation of toddlers and kids does what they think is correct. After all, they are carrying forward the same thought process and ideologies that occupies our mind space, and if this isn’t evolution then what is?

Observe and look around. Hypocrisy is abundant. People are more interested and rather make it part of their lifestyle in imparting words of wisdom to others and least interested in listening to what others are saying. The harsh truth of life is – Internet can enable you to speak and impart gyaan, however, it cannot give feedback if what you say and do is correct in the scheme of things. Only fellow human beings can. What happen at most of the corporate meetings today? Firstly, they are attended by warriors who are armed with their shastras to maim and disable the other. The brahmastra lies with the person chairing the meeting and he hits at will. Everybody is armed with all kinds of astra and shastra and not an opportunity is left to hit out at the other person. Is anybody listening? If that would have been the case, then ‘Minutes of the meeting’ would not have acquired the threat status that Pappu faces on an everyday basis.

Question is, whom do you listen to and how do you listen? I wish there was a clear answer. However, there is a simple answer. Make an attempt to listen. Yes, to talk and talk and not listen is an addiction and unlike Alcoholics Anonymous there is no association to help you with this issue. Before I embarked on my enablers, for a very long time I was addicted to this problem of cribbing and complaining which yielded a negative spiral of frustration, loneliness and helplessness. Fortunately, some close friends pulled out of this spiral which took its own time and the more I listened to them and others who bode well for my life, my contribution towards ‘non listener’ generation gradually became less. Finally, and most importantly to be able to Know Yourself the most critical factor is to ‘Listen’ to yourself. As I read in today’s newspaper, Sylvester Stallone says that the difference between winners and losers is that the winners really listen to the truth of their hearts.

So, go out there, hear the yelling of Big Boss contestants, hear what people are complaining about, hear the advice that everybody imparts, hear about ugly stuff of life. But always listen to your heart as this will truly tell you what you are.

Shakespeare babu keh gaye ‘To thine own self be true’.

2015 has arrived in an unnoticed, silent manner through the front door of experiences of life. Once arrived, it has managed to create an impact in my life already. In the past couple of weeks my office security guys or even the Hotel guys where my training event was being organized, have seen me more than my kids at home. It was a vibrant, challenging and a crazy event which though I enjoyed a lot has left me a bit tired on the physical front. Mentally and emotionally, I feel as if I have reached the zenith of a mountain and the next mountain beckons me. As I still absorb the calmness and peace at this height, some enablers for climbing the next mountain –

Challenge the proverbs – When in school, we were taught an interesting topic called Proverbs as part of the English subject. One particular chapter has still kept me intrigued, which talked about two contrasting proverbs for the same situation. Example being, ‘Penny wish pound foolish’ and its half-brother saying ‘Take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves’. I still don’t get it. Of late proverbs are being replaced by messages or quotes which are nothing but advises, guidance not emanating from the lines of a page of an English book called ‘English for dummies’ but as words of wisdom from people whom you don’t even know. Open your mail box, Whatsapp, FB or any social medium and you are bombarded by these innocuous looking messages (which I would still refer as proverbs). The wise words stare at you camouflaged in an attractive design every morning, afternoon and especially on days like ‘Mothers day’, ‘Mothers best friend day’, ‘Mothers and Fathers family friend days’, ‘Best friend’s dog finally got hooked days’ et al.

Of late these so-called proverbs have started preaching about life and what we should do with it rather than merely guide. For example, lately I received a proverb which said that a kite’s string is your family, friends and culture, so don’t let the kite soar high else the string will break. I happened to see the same on FB with thousands of likes and since then my eyes have disowned me and gone for a check-up. I imagine what would have been the answer of the writer of this particular proverb to the commonly abused question in an interview ‘So, where do you see yourself 5 years from now’. ‘Well Sir, though I wish to grow in my career, at the same time my string should not be broken’. Wallah and we heard so far only about virginity being broken. ‘Oh, how long is your string or rather how far you foresee yourself flying’? ‘Well Sir, as far as the threads of friends, family and culture allow me to fly.’ I bet the crow bit dropped on his kite.

Honestly, I would go with Confucius ‘The journey itself is the destination’. And seriously, this is where my entire concept of challenging the proverbs comes in. Yes, you can ignore these proverbs and go ahead with your life. However, going ahead involves knowing where to go which then definitely involves making decision which paths you have to avoid. Which paths or proverbs you have to challenge.

This is my first enabler and to realize this, it is important that the second enabler is given due importance.

Know yourself

Well, you can’t challenge unless you know why you need to challenge or what the basis of that challenge is. There is always an argument, is it necessary to challenge? If you perceive challenge as standing up for something which you believe is right or being true to yourself, then yes. To be true to yourself, you have to know yourself which is probably the last step of knowledge in today’s world of laptop, smart phones, tablet and all the APPS of the world. If you don’t know who you are, what are your beliefs, your strengths, your vulnerable areas, then how can you be convincing enough in your challenge to others.

So, I come across this lady during an interview who tells me that she has great potential (at work) and would like to excel in corporate life. And I ask her what her strength (at work) is. ‘Excel’. ‘Yes, I understand that you want to excel, however, on what basis do I recruit you for this particular role? ’Pat comes the reply, ‘Sir, I excel at excel sir’. Embarrassed at my incompetence of not able to comprehend single word answers, I then asked her if she knew Macros. ‘No sir that is something I don’t know but I can learn’. This is something I really admire about the youngsters – always willing to learn. ‘Ok, can you make Charts? I am sure this part of Excel you surely excel’, I tease her mockingly. ‘No sir, I am still learning at classes, however, I can do everything else (at work). I have great potential (at work).’

Post this interview there was only proverb I could relate to ‘Aa bail mujhe maar’. Point taken, this is my second enabler for life. It is highly important that you put yourself in other’s shoes and be aware of your strengths, weakness and of course blind spots. To realize the same, there are other enablers .. well, let’s discuss some other time.