Category Archives: Till sunset and beyond

Tools to succeed here and in the hereafter

The Fulfillment diaries- 14th Nov 2018

Whenever I meet my CEO, I get to see “Executive Presence” in action. He greets you warmly, always connecting with the person before getting into job related transactions. He is never in a hurry. I could see that he was trying to solve messy problems over the phone. But he went about it with an air of composure and soothing confidence. I also got a rare glimpse of him expressing his displeasure about an error that had occurred. But he spoke in such a way that the person at the receiving end got the message without getting judged or criticized harshly. He had the gift of making people feel guilty bereft of the feeling of shame that usually accompanies the former.

Two unplanned shopping salvos before hitting the bed. At the stationery shop I was surprised to see a family who had come to collect a clumsy looking model that they had ordered. My eyebrows went up. Instead of making it themselves, they were paying for it. Education’s labour lost?

Next stop was at the pharmacy. There was this delivery boy from the nearby grocery who was purchasing antibiotics. Despite the pharmacist’s insistence, he was buying just 2 tablets. “I shall come back if I don’t get relief,” he said. When I looked enquiringly at the pharmacist, he said “They don’t want to spend money, so they don’t take the whole course.” I gently stopped him and offered to pay. “It’s the full course or nothing my friend,” I said, taking my wallet out. He shook his head, and briskly walked off, visibly embarrassed. I was robbed of the chance to get a much needed oxytocin high.

Thanks to the Almighty for yet another fulfilling day.

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Is there any link between Talent & Success ? he asked.

talent-vs-hard-work

Was a great day !. In a meeting convened to ascertain the performance needs of our associates, a Senior Manager who had joined us recently complimented us by saying “Though my previous bank had a budget probably 10 times bigger than what we have, our team is adding at least 3 times more value.” Felt like my head was in the clouds.

While I was about to call it a day, a friend posed this question on FB. “Is there any link between Talent & Success?”. This is how I replied.

To complete every goal or job, certain mental and/or behavioral tasks must be carried out. Due to genetic disposition and exposure some people are good at these tasks. In common parlance we then say that they are talented. They can do these tasks easily compared to others. So if they persist at these tasks they can become successful without much effort.

But new findings in Neuropsychology suggests that with the right strategy and effort most people can acquire these strengths. In other words we can become talented through deliberate practice. But this requires loads of enduring determination otherwise known as GRIT. To conclude, with the right mindset and habits we can all succeed even if we dont appear to have the right talents. Talents can be acquired. And when you marry Talents with Hard work you succeed.

He was happy with the answer. Got rewarded with a flurry of encouraging emojis.

Thanks to the Almighty for another fulfilling day.

 

 

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The Fulfillment Diaries- Relationships and Respect

A senior Manager came calling for a counseling session. “My Manager bypasses me and speaks to my assistant every time. I feel so powerless and dis empowered,” she complained. The easiest way to get someone to introspect and understand is to ask them questions. “Have you ever bypassed your Manager and approached his boss?’ I enquired. “I do that when I need approvals for huge orders,” she replied. “And how often does this happen?” I probed. “Two or three times a month,” she answered. “Could this be prompting him to behave in this manner? If you meet him first and approach the Manager with him in tow, do you think he will behave differently?” I asked. A long pause greeted me and she quietly nodded. Bingo!

I was asked to unofficially lead (that’s another story) a freshly baked cross functional team. When I started to assert myself, I felt that the one who was earlier in command was resisting subtly. Frequent arguments, lack of forthrightness… it was evident that rapport was lost. I decided to set it right. Went to his office and shared my concern. “I am working on this project because I have been asked to do so. I value your experience and would love to add value to our work with your support. Hope you have nothing against me” The ice melted. He opened up and shared his concerns openly. We parted as friends.

Had to ensure the presence of 4 Executive Managers for a presentation that is scheduled on Thursday. Gathering them all at such short notice was next to impossible. Be nice to the Monarch and be nicer to the door keepers- that’s my adage. Was able to walk into their offices and get their confirmations instantly. I believe that Relationships matter more than Vision and Execution. And Relationships (and solid ones at that) can be built by giving RESPECT.

Thanks to the Almighty for another fulfilling day……

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The fulfillment diaries- An English Fall

The Kensington gardens is according to me, the perfect microcosm of English life. Incessant rain, Maple leaf lookalikes floating around, super courteous old couples with their well-behaved dogs and the occasional strains of Scottish bagpipes. Bliss! The colors that welcomed us were breathtaking. The cold breeze accentuated the feel. Interacted with the Queen’s swans. Could reflect over the urgency of time by watching Amaan and Jehan in the same setting- space unchanged, a decade apart.

2 Learning points for myself

At the Westminster Abbey, Poets and Scientists slept alongside England’s greatest Monarchs. Speaks volumes about the values the Brits want to pass on to the coming generations. Charles Darwin who challenged Creationism lay next to Newton close to the Sanctum Santorum. What Darwin’s soul would have felt, I wonder. 🙂 🙂

At the magnificent Victoria-Albert Museum, two of India’s most valiant kings were presented in all pomp and splendor. The Tiger of Mysore and the Lion of Punjab. Though they were thorns in England’s flesh, they were being celebrated. The Nisams and Marathas who were loyal allies were conspicuous by their absence. A key learning point about short term success and long term glory.

As all good things, the holiday came to an abrupt end. So we moved from 14 degrees to 32 degrees. “Don’t be sad,” I told the kids. “Pleasure means nothing without Purpose.” They nodded in agreement.

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5 Reasons why you will be a Hater all your life – The Psychology of Fanaticism.

brain

If you have ever tried to reason with a hardcore fanatic, you would have noticed what I did.  Even if you prove to him that his “facts” are either untrue or grossly exaggerated, he would coolly look the other way and continue with his allegations. He would keep throwing unsubstantiated prejudices about his pet hates. Whatever you do, you will not get him to empathize even a teeny weenie bit with those on the other side of the battle lines. “They are evil, they have done even worse things and they deserve it” would be the recurring themes.

What surprised me is that people harboring these believes are otherwise generally quite good and conscientious. They lead normal lives and hold noble values. Then what could be the reasons for the intense and unjustified hatred that they harbor? – The Jekyll and Hyde bit? – Got me probing.

It turned out that this could be attributed to some of the inbuilt faults in our thought processes. By listing them here, I am trying to throw light on the challenges that we will face when we try to break the walls people build around themselves…..

The Reticular Activation System (RAS) – The prime culprit. This is a mechanism in our brain that filters out unwanted inputs that come in. In a second, 1.6 million bits of information hit our brain. The poor thing can process only a measly 164 bits per second. So the RAS acts as a watchman and admits only the most important information. The rest gets bounced off. And it is we ourselves who tell the RAS what is important, through our thoughts, interests and actions. If you are planning to buy a new car and have shown interest in it, you will suddenly start seeing that car all over town. The car was always there. You however started noticing it now, because your RAS is admitting it in instead of bouncing it off. But what does RAS have to do with our topic? Lots.  If you have a prejudice about a particular community or ideology and if you talk about it or read about it a couple of times, RAS kicks in. It will start increasingly alerting you with inputs that align with your point of view while blocking all inputs that stand against it. So you will not see the virtues, good actions and benevolence of your foes. You will see only their badmash and badass aspects. This is akin to LIKING certain pages on Facebook. FB will then flood you with recommendations of similar ones. You LIKE them too and soon your time line will be flooded with related stories taking it completely to one side of the debate. So you stop seeing things that disagree with you. And you get condemned to live sorely in your “Haters hell”.

Now that’s bad enough. But it doesn’t end here. Check out the long train of our thinking errors.

Cognitive Dissonance- When you encounter a belief or idea that contradicts your world view, that inconsistency causes stress or dissonance. (That’s what you get when someone refutes your political post on FB) .So you try to reduce this by actively avoiding situations and information which would increase the dissonance. So in the long run, you end up unfriending or ignoring all the dissenters and entertaining only a coterie of YES men – haters of the same feather.

Here comes the next one- Confirmation Bias– we have the tendency to look for or interpret information in a way that confirms our beliefs. We collect evidence selectively… very selectively. And we will misinterpret even the noblest of their actions to suit our opinion. “They did it for this”. Told Ya!!!

Check this one out – The “Just-World Phenomenon” If we witness an injustice done to someone we hate, in order to rationalize it, we will search for things that the victims did to deserve it. This is done to ease our anxiety .This peace of mind comes at the expense of blaming the innocent victims- so they deserve it.  So if you hear that your favorite side has done something evil, you will promptly justify it by saying- they had it coming.

Now here is the icing on the cake- The Bias Blind Spot: We are often unaware of our own thought biases. So even after reading this article, you will vehemently deny that you have any of such thinking faults. Come on, you are above all these, aren’t you?

So where does this take us? – If we hate something or someone, we will not see the good things that they do. We will avoid being exposed to their good side, will interpret even the good things that they do as bad, will attribute any injustice done to them as something that they deserve, all while staying blissfully unaware of the unfairness in our thinking process.

Think about it- terrorist attacks, communal riots, imperial aggression, even discord in the family- who is right and wrong? Man, you could be so way off!!!!

The same hold good for the Lovers too.

Next time, you either judge or get into a heated debate with someone, remember this…

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Come, let us share some Oxytocins ……

friendship
Don’t we all know that experiencing positive relationships puts us on a perpetual high?. We feel better, think better and behave better when we are with the ones we love and cherish. And now we have empirical evidence to substantiate what we always knew.

Scientists have found that the very experience of positive relationships releases Oxytocin (a very cool hormone) which lowers blood pressure, heart rate and gives us better ability to handle stress calmly. Moreover ms Oxy increases trust levels and thus prods and pushes us to seek more social contacts and this again flags off a virtuous cycle along life’s lovely tracks.

To add compliment to good health (My miserable take on the opposite of “adding insult to injury”) , stress related hormones like ACTH (beats me- so google it up pls) take a deep plunge while experiencing positive relationships.
In another mother of all studies, it was also found that Alzheimers patients who received considered social support started up (can’t use “ended up”, can we ?) physiologically much younger than those who didn’t.

So now- apart from gut feel, we have scientific proof to motivate us to make more friends , Close friends and followers.

Come, let us deplete some ACTH’s as well……

Blogged after ages today- Thanks for the reminder, friend.

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Thamasoma Jyothirgamaya… From darkness to Light


I was sitting impatiently at the lobby of the hotel, waiting for my son’s Leadership camp to conclude when I noticed the elderly European couple slowly walk past the reception towards the door. The lady had a copy of the city map in her hand. With her other hand, she was gently holding her partner, a lanky white haired gentleman. He had a guiding cane in his hand and dark shades over his eyes. As he slowly wobbled down the ramp, it became apparent that he was blind. My attention was diverted as Amaan excitedly came into the lobby with his friends and I didn’t think of the couple till we were slowly driving home. A blind tourist? What on earth will he see? What will his overall experience be? Why should he take all the pain?

I genuinely felt sorry for this vulnerable wayfarer.

I get similar feelings when I think of some of my very close friends and relatives who claim to be atheists or deem themselves agnostics. I have the deepest respect for their views. But I sincerely feel sorry for them, for choosing to keep their eyes tightly closed as they move through life, denying themselves of the light of spiritual Vision… that fluttering of the soul’s lashes deep within….opening floodgates of warm and tingling light….that allows you to experience lingering moments of love and peace….the ecstasy of submission, the bliss of sacrificing, the delight of giving… the relief of being in an impregnable sanctuary under the loving care of the almighty.

How I wish that they experience at least once, the feeling of assurance that prevails when one chooses not to bear the heavy mantle of decision at times when logic and reason falls short of showing you what is right. A few months back, the resident doctors taking care of dad had given us a tough choice- to take him off the ventilator and to let things be. They reasoned nonchalantly about relieving him from pain, giving him the companionship of his loved ones, and to let him pass away comfortably. One even advised me to pray to god to take him away soon to lessen his suffering. We disagreed for we fully knew that birth, life and death were prerogatives of the almighty and we simply didn’t know enough to take the right decision. Our mandate is to fight without giving up and to leave the outcomes to the almighty.

Dad fought on bravely against that formidable bout of pneumonia for few more weeks before succumbing to god’s will. Spiritual wisdom tells us to utter thanks to god even when you lose a loved one. For the one who departs gets to be embraced by eternity, a never ending saga of either pain or pleasure depending on how he lived his life, the values he cherished and the deeds he chose to send before him. As they say, in this life you have intermittent bouts of pleasure and pain. In the next one you get either one… forever. Moreover, Believers take comfort even from their afflictions since they consider hardships to be blessings that cleanse them from past sins. They also believe that every bad thing that happens to one is a substitute for something worse that could have happened.

Believers don’t get stuck in a state of helplessness when their loved ones move on. They believe that they can continue to serve them by praying for them and doing good deeds on their behalf. It is said that only three things help you after your death- Continuing acts of charity that you leave behind, knowledge and enlightenment that you have spread and righteous off springs who pray for you. It is even said that the souls of the dead would know about and be comforted from our prayers. The feeling that you get when you do something worthwhile for these departed souls is indescribable.

Every day, I get to do something for my dad and even convey my love and adoration for him. And as I utter my prayers, I get to reach him through the grace and love of the almighty and in spells of absolute bliss; I feel proud of being a worthy son.

How I wish I could have some of my atheist friends partake a bit of this bliss. How I wish they could also revel in this comforting spell….

I can understand the objections that would be arising in the minds of some of my readers. Proof/Superstition/Illogical/Waste of time/Escapism/Fallacy…….

For those who don’t want to embrace faith yet, let me defend my suggestions based on rational arguments. In psychotechnology, we talk about two types of thoughts- Empowering ones and dis empowering ones. It is not about the correctness of your paradigms, it is about their use- as to what they allow you to be and become… If they give you hope, shake you out of immobility, motivate you to do good deeds, and turn into a better person… why bother about their definiteness? Just stop wanting to be right for a few minutes, give in to these empowering beliefs and get to bask in the euphoria of spiritual initiation.

The great secret however is that if you suspend disbelief even for a second and give the power of faith a chance, you will soon be overwhelmed with evidence of its truth.

I had once read about an incident that happened in a train. A man was sitting opposite to a family comprising of a young man and his parents. The young man who was seated next to the window would frequently exclaim- “Dad! The clouds are following us, Dad the trees are moving backwards”. The baffled man asked the father- “Is your son alright? Why is he behaving like this?” The father replied – “My son was blind all his life. We are coming from the hospital and he is seeing these things for the first time”

How I wish my friends could also see… at least once….

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