Cruising the skies or waiting in the Hangar?

I do not know what is it about air travel or travel in general and the flow of thoughts combined with the urge to pen them down. It’s almost like an irresistible urge. Something very similar to when you just have to go to the bathroom and can’t control your pee any longerJ Wonder if I could have given a more subtle example but then the relatability factor of natural instincts in unquestionable. Right, and now that we have established that…

Enroute to the airport today I got consumed by the sight of airplanes on the runway waiting for their turn to get the OK signal for flying. Then there are planes which were simply standing by which are even farther away in the process of taking off and nowhere close to the runway. Can you guess what I am getting at? Perhaps it’s too early to have you guess. All those airplanes standing over there and also the ones closer to the runway have their routes planned and their times of flying set. The mere act of ‘waiting’ close to the runway or being farther away in the hangar does not negate the fact that they will indeed fly. They will fly but only at a certain time and on a certain route.

I have often wondered…

What’s the need for yet another life coach, doctor, healer, teacher, dancer when so many already exist and what could this yet another person could even dream of contributing that hasn’t already been done.

What’s the point in starting yet another company if you are not the pioneer in the industry?

What’s the point of doing anything if I am only going to be lost in the crowd of me toos??

The starting point here is the thought that knowingly or unknowingly we all strive to contribute/make a difference. Even if you think are you are not the ‘helper’ or ‘social worker’ or ‘activist’ type, no matter what you are doing, you chose it to make a difference and to contribute. Some of us who work a job simply to meet ends and take care of a family are making a difference in that exact manner- providing to the family. If you are driven by intellectual kung-fu and have chosen to be a business analyst or forensic psychologist , you are making a difference. If you have chosen to be a full time home maker then you are making a huge difference in several lives at once. No matter what hat you are wearing, you are making a difference.

The second point is discovering our own uniqueness (I know that’s such a clichéd term but please bear with me) that lies within us. What is your USP? It’s everything about YOU. The type of family you were born in, the school you went to , the religion you follow or chose not to, major life events that have occurred and shaped you, are all factors that are unique to you and you alone. These experiences impact our thinking in unique ways, the way we make decisions, the way we interact with the world etc. You are a me too only until you see yourself through a different lens. And yes another important factor is that you need to honor your unique gifts yourself i.e. be authentic and embrace all the crap you have been through.

Much like the different routes for airplanes and a different timing to fly, each one of us has followed a unique route and will continue to do so. Even if you are doing the same job with the same set of tasks, you do it and process it differently than the next person who does it. There always are differences.

In a spiritual/philosophical sense your plane will take off when it is the exact match of your abilities with a time of need which is much larger than what our rational minds can comprehend. All airplanes never cruise the sky at once and neither can we have all on the runway at the same time. If we can get out of our heads and appreciate the ‘whole’, we would perhaps be able to see that not all people who have been successful did it at age 20 or 50. Each one has a different story. What is the common is their ability to acknowledge their uniqueness, embrace some level of uncertainty and take action. Don’t beat yourself up if 5 of your friends are millionaires and you are not right at this time. (On second thoughts, you could absolutely choose to do so if you do enjoy self-torture.)

I don’t have a count for how many airplanes exist today and how many cruise the global skies at once but there’s always room for more or so it seems. There’s always room for YOU to BE YOU! There’s a difference that ONLY YOU can make living in the most ordinary circumstances. A certain set of people with whom ONLY YOU will interact in the way YOU do. There is a micro in this whole macro that can only be touched by you.

Would love to hear if you have been able to relate to any of this..


Creative birthing..Are you in labor yet?

On a flight to California from Chicago, unable to rest my mind which is stimulated from reading Susan Cain’s book Quiet, here I am struggling to move my fingers on my laptop (courtesy the person in front of me who decided to extend his back rest) and yet experiencing no discomfort penning down my thoughts. At this point I don’t know whether it’s a blog or the beginning of a book and I am OK not knowing it.

Let’s dive into the subject at hand!Like most creatives who have experienced this, birthing of an idea is similar to child birth where conception occurs long before the actual child is born. There is gap between when an idea germinates in your conscience and the day you act on it. It is not that you as the bearer of the idea don’t want to act on it but it’s the fact that not everything else has come together yet for the successful birthing of that seed thought. Much like farming, you sow the seeds and it grows into a plant only when all the other conditions around it are just right.  I am one of those people who believe that the child chooses its parents and the surroundings in which it would like to be born and where the utmost growth could occur for her. Similarly, we don’t choose the ideas we work on but the ideas choose us. More often than not the bearers of the idea will experience anxiety and restlessness within themselves because they know they are not acting on something but if the time isn’t right yet, it just won’t feel right and will evaporate into thin air. Just like a woman always carries an egg inside of her and waits for the right man to co-create a child, so does the bearer of an idea have to wait until she finds the right time to fertilize her seed thought. This happens to be a very private, personal and self-consuming affair. It isn’t meant for someone who can’t be comfortable with solitude. In some ways, bearing a child is easier on one’s mind because for the most part, one knows what to expect and is aware fully well that she is bearing a child. When you are carrying an idea, you don’t even know that you are pregnant and how are you to know that you will need to carry this mixed bag of anxiety and joy inside of you until such time as deemed fit to deliver it. You are also aware that you will know when the time is right to birth it and you also know that you will doubt yourself when that happens. It is at this point that one makes a key decision. This decision is let go of the ‘I’ in you and surrender yourself to this entire process as it occurs. You choose to roll with it and take a leap of faith. Not everything from this point on will be a known and yet you will know that the birthing needs to continue. That’s the only known and you are aware that you aren’t the owner but a trustee here. A vehicle, a vessel, a medium through which the idea needs to be conceived, received, held, nurtured and delivered. It is perhaps the most selfish and selfless act at once.

Drawing parallels with the delivery process of a child, a creative idea takes form in the following ways:

  • Organically i.e. with less intervention or help from others. This could be a single person or more than one person acting in synergy without much input from anyone else. It could be closely guarded until the idea has been born and taken form. You could utilize the assistance of people with special skills like midwives who are present and hold space while assisting you in giving birth. These could be people who have necessary skills that you don’t possess yourself but find it imperative to the birth of the idea. Examples could be people who could assist in marketing, finance, networking etc but who are veru rightly holding the space for you and not threatening your rights as the idea bearer.
  • C-section- this is perhaps when an interventionist who was not party to the idea germination process acts as a doctor who advises a C-section for the health and safety of both the mother and child. This albeit would never be the most preferred option, is much needed for the idea to come to life else it risks never seeing the light of day. Such an interventionist could be a mentor or a close confidante who enjoys trust and credibility with the idea bearer.

In either of the above cases, one will have to experience first-hand the process of going through labor. This is the phase when you know that you can no longer hold the idea in. It is asking to have a life of its own as was intended. These are the times when you are compelled to act whereas earlier you could get sidetracked by other thoughts and go through a normal routine life. You may not be able to sleep//rest until you create the right conditions for the idea to be born. This could mean anything from starting a website, to begin prototyping your idea , incorporating your company , attracting other like-minded individuals, buying office space etc. More often than not, once the ball is set rolling, the other things do fall into place or you could say that you find the strength to make everything else happen.

Besides the two birthing possibilities, there are also possibilities of miscarriages, still births and the child dying right after birth. One thing that I have learned from life is not to beat yourself up over things which are not in your control. You may have been attached to your idea but when its dead for reasons other than your desire to birth it and bring it to life, you can only take it as a learning. In many entrepreneurial books, I have read that an entrepreneur’s success depends on discerning the right time to move away from a stagnant idea. You know it when it is dead but you don’t want to give up because you thought it was yours. It is here that one needs to apply the concept I suggested above in which ideas choose you and it does not work the other way round. We tend to get too involved with failures and lose time. The purpose of that failure was to help you grow and learn. It is when you understand this death, that you can respect it’s life and what it gave you in the short span that it existed. It was perhaps your first idea which gave you’ the confidence to go and talk to investors or the first piece of art you shared with the world and it is exactly this nudge that it came for. If you knew from the beginning that it would die, you wouldn’t reach here. And then one can wonder..does it really ever die? Perhaps not.

Creative birthing isn’t for the faint hearted and if you are one, then watch are about to receive an upgrade..whether you like it or not!

Would you work even if no one paid you for it?

Work is Worship, Work gives me satisfaction…Work = life for me, I would be nothing if not for my work. All these statements intrigue me. Read ahead for some observations and findings.

Since ancient times now, human beings have been “working”. Some have a reason to work, some invent one and some are blissful in not having one. Reason or nor reason, we work. Be it a housewife at home, an entrepreneur who creates his own work, an artist whose expression becomes his work, an employee who works for someone etc etc…What exactly makes a human being want to work or have to work? Is it money? May be not, for, in the times of barter too, we did carry out some activities which were not necessarily for any commercial gains. It was more of need based exchange of goods and services. If it were simply for rupees or dollars that we work today, why do we dread the thought of being paid a hefty sum for non occupation? With due respect to the exceptions who are capable of digesting unearned salaries. Having said that, our need to work is not necessarily linked to money. Money or no money, we would surely engage ourselves in some kind of activity.

Literally, work means a set of activities that all of us engage in at some of point of time or for a period of time. A Need is intrinsic and basic in nature, the fulfillment of which gives us a sense of satisfaction. For example, food and water satisfy our basic needs of hunger and thirst. It is only when these are left unfulfilled that we realize how primary they are to one’s existence. Assuming that Irrespective of the existence of Money, we would like to engage in some activity, “working” or being engaged possibly leads to fulfillment of some basic need in a human being. Let’s now try and understand what that basic need in us is.

Each one of us is a bundle of energy captured in a particular form. I do not know much of science but know that energy is not meant to be lying idle, rather cannot be idle. The fundamental characteristic of energy is that it gets transformed. Even if we choose not to move physically, mental energy is in action. This energy needs to be channelised. It is like generating electricity through channelizing water in a river stream. Although apparently, a river stream may look calm or in some cases even idle, there is a lot of activity that goes on inside it. The process of channelization also gets coloured depending on the circumstances in which we are planted. It either takes a negative or a positive connotation. For example, the bundle of energy is possibly the same when we are born but our childhood, schooling, friends and parents all through a process of conditioning, carve a channel for that energy. We often, say that a man is better known by the company that he keeps. This helps us understand that by and large, a person born amongst goons might become one or a teacher’s child would possibly first think of teaching. This is purely to be seen as an example for the effect the circumstances can have on us. Further to this, the element of choice also helps us transform the energy within us or to move it to positivity. The person born into poverty may choose to educate himself and grow up to be a learned man against all odds or you may juxtapose this situation with that of a child born to a wealthy businessman who grows up to be a wastrel. Hence, we know that there is some energy within all of us which always looks for an outlet.
For simpler understanding, we can categorize this energy as positive or negative depending on the activity for which it is used or the effect that it has. In absolute terms, positive energy is one that creates and negative energy would be one that destroys (for a moment, lets set aside, the creation that is possible through destruction). In essence, both involve expression. The energy within gets manifested in the form of the expression.

Every human being is said to manifest through him, a certain set of intentions which belong to the entire cosmos. It is like a subset of the universe. The ingredients that form part of each bundle of energy may be the same but differ in proportions and hence manifested differently with different intensities and focus. An example for this could be the five elements that constitute our body. The elements are the same but each body and the system inside are different. Having the same base elements, some bodies are dark, light, heavy, long, short, etc. In case of bodies, genes play an important role in creating a unique body, similarly, the situations/circumstances that one is brought up in shapes up his choice of “energy expression” which could be to create or to destroy. Also, as mentioned above, the intensity of or the focus of the “energy elements” or set of intentions that one would manifest differs from person to person. It is the dominance of one these elements that defines your intrinsic need to “do something” and leave the rest of the elements or intentions available to you. Hence, we find that some people have a natural inclination towards Arts/Sports/Academics/Commerce etc. It is this part of your natural being that looks for an outlet over a period of years.

The energy within brings out a need to transform itself into some other form and therefore a human being finds purpose in engaging himself in some form of activity. It is this energy in each one of us that needs an expression and makes us work. Hence, money or no money, a human being will always be involved in some activity and keep this energy engaged, for, this precious energy cannot be wasted.

One level higher, people who are able to find their respective focus are the people who derive joy out of their work. With a little bit of search within, one can know what is it that makes him come alive and what makes him listless.

And I thought I did a shoddy job..

And I thought I did a shoddy job…

A week back, I was asked to make a presentation on Change management for an ERP initiative in our organization. Being an idealist that I am I did the groundwork to let the audience understand the basis of change, need for change and normal reaction to change which is that of resistance/ fear/ mistrust and the like. Therefore the thrust of my presentation was to be that of an attitude change and the rest to follow.

After an hour of discussion with the two project managers, I was disappointed that they wanted to ignore the fundamental aspect of change and feared making a mention of the word “resistance to change” and thought it was better to present it in more digestible words…the point being do not talk of things in black and white or do not address the core, just be at the periphery and expect that the rest would happen on its own. When I quoted the Manager on his own examples wherein he wanted people to become pro- active than reactive and wanted them to take ownership of issues, he did not want to talk of “attitude” change as that would mean digressing from the main issue. Much surprised as I was, I then asked them what was expected of me during the presentation and they gladly mentioned some formats to be filled by people and some change management workshops which were to concentrate on technical changes not attitudinal aspects.

I made the presentation as they wanted me to and got lot of appreciation for doing half a job. Often I hear these words “we want your 100% inputs”, “you are here for your intellectual capabilities” and when one uses it to make things better, he is not allowed to because the people at the top are not sure of themselves or are so sure of what they want that no other changes can take place to the thoughts they have framed.

Knowing fully well in their hearts( the people at the top) that what the other person is saying is valid, they do not venture in to and realize the facts much later when it turns into a crisis situation.

One more possibility is that may be these people are not used to confrontations and seldom come across someone who does not easily say “ Yes” just because the other person is a Boss or in a position of authority.

We keep talking of “empowerment”, “participative decision making” and the likes wherein the participation is restricted to sharing the decision already made.

That day when according to me I did a shoddy job, I realized that even if you have the best to offer it can be materialized only when there is somebody who can digest it, accept it and then work on it or even let you work on it.

Another lesson that I learnt, one who is passionate about his work should also know how to best package it to suit the situation…it is indeed difficult to practice.