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 out..you are about to receive an upgrade..whether you like it or not!

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The Changing room-II

It is scary..to not know. To not know where you are headed when you have always felt like you did. You took pride in your clarity of purpose and alignment of every thought, action and word. It makes you question the very foundation that you once stood on and built yourself. Fears and insecurities begin to surface and your sense of certainty in who you are isn’t certain anymore. It is a place where you feel that you are simply ‘in between’. Every aspect of your life is being gently ripped apart. Tears flow through the eyes unexplained as if the soul needs to be cleansed. Almost as if the well inside is full and needs to pour outside. You feel slightly embarrassed sharing this with friends who have known you to be their anchor in trying times. Friends who have seen you as somebody who is sure of her dreams. It is that ‘sure’ which I am no longer sure about. There seems to be a state of confusion or transformation to be more precise. It is something like you are standing in the center and everything else around you is moving and you are a mere spectator, clueless and yet in it.

As often cited in textbooks, these moments catch you and begin to surface more when you are alone. You can ignore it once, twice perhaps thrice but the fourth time you simply cannot. I have postponed the welling up of these thoughts several times until now and somehow today I could no longer do it. I knew that I had to write it down. A lot of my dreams in the past few months had signaled me towards change and transformation. However I did not exactly know what that ‘feels’ like. It feels like something is being pulled out of you..a sense of death and dying in a way. Sometimes you feel lost and begin wondering ‘how did I get here’ and ‘Do I need to be some place else’. It is soul wrenching and a quiet pain. It is subdued for the most part but it for sure is there. Any traces of ‘ I know who I am’ and thereby the swollen ego syndrome is all washed away. Perhaps this is what the tears are for..to wash away, to cleanse, to make you humble and more human in your imperfections.

There are moments where I want to hide my face into someone’s chest, someone who can assure me that ‘this too shall pass’ and that I am with you no matter what. The anxiety of being human and the need to be rescued. Feeling as I do, I also have no choice but to be with myself right now ( I laughed as I wrote this). Is it the dark night of the soul? May be. All the times when I would wonder ‘how can someone be afraid of change’ and one just needs to have faith are all being offered to me as personal experiences. Don’t know if anyone likes being in this phase but as always I am hoping that I can shine through this and emerge a clear diamond. I often say that strong headed or stubborn people need harder lessons to get through their tough heads and guess what..I am in one right now! Taking my bow to life and spirit!

Seems like I need to simply surrender and then my ego comes right back at me telling me to ‘do’ something. It says, you cannot simply sit back and let this happen, you need to take charge. These are perhaps my mind’s attempts to hold on to whatever I know, that is if I know anythingJ

Being YourSelf…

What does your experience say? Is it easy being you or it is a challenge every SELF faces in the years that it lives amongst many other “selves”. Let me take you to another tangent- while I write this, I remember a quote – “Most people are other people”, they live by the way other people want them to and think with other people’s minds (the collective mind, do not read it as the mind of the Supreme Being) There are two alternate questions that pop up when we discuss this: 1) Whether an individual realizes what his Self is made up of, his distinct identity or his uniqueness in this universe?
2) Having realized it, what does one really do with it?

Lets take the first question: Right from the moment a child is born, we assign him similarities to his parents/ relatives etc etc…We tend to focus more on what our child shares in common in his peers (does he attend the same coaching classes, or the same summer camps, or may be is one’s child doing better than the neighbors’). Very rarely do we let a child find have his time to explore and find out what he really likes. For some fortunate souls, this liberty is granted in the form of extra- curricular activities in school and college. Some struggle later in lives to FIND themselves, that passion in them that lits them and sets them apart. The SELF is strong in these individuals and they cannot resist the urge to follow it and understand it. Many others resort to convenient ways of just doing what they have been asked to and live a life acceptable within the societal parameters of stable job, marriage followed by kids and the likes…In effect, the process of finding oneself is in itself a courageous task because many a times, you may have to stand alone and not have the luxury of being comparable, hence declared normal, acceptable. The uniqueness in each individual is not comparable if you do realize it, that is.

Now comes the next question: After having realized what ingredients you are made up of, what do you do? This is an even more challenging task for as SELF to conquer, for this is where thoughts start shaping up into action. For example: what happens when the blue eyed baby born in an engineer’s family, decides to take up pottery as his profession. I am sure I need not essay the confrontations that would take place in a normal setup. This is where the strength of a passion is tested through fire. Many a potter must have given up his dreams for the want of answers to practical people who believe in stable lives and who have not seen people making a living out of their passions. It is only when your courage to follow your heart is tested that you understand how clear you are about the dream you are chasing. The road ahead is even tougher for the people who decide to take the plunge and in the bargain lose out on their safety nets of bank balances, secured relationships, steady job etc etc…The individuals who reach till here know that as and when you learn more, you realize that you are alone, left with HIM. And independence is always coupled with responsibility for one’s actions.

It is also only over a period of time that one can differentiate between a fool and a wise person.
For any person, both appear to start the same way but it is only the end that justifies the strength and conviction of the SELF in either.

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.