Monday, 13 April 2020

COVID – A Steep Hockey-stick Curve of Human Growth


COVID - "One of the best gifts, nature has granted to humankind in recent times." Before, you judge and label me insensitive, please allow me to elaborate on this.
 
Two days ago, an entrepreneur client opined that the lock-down measure was draconian. In this time of gloom and doom, industry captains are speculating about recovery curve being L, V or U shaped; in some quarters, the chorus for exit path from lock-down has appeared to take the center stage. 

I must own up to my bias for a wider lens (you may call it diffused) than the modern economist’s view of the human beings.  I must also share my long-held view that the GDP growth obsession has done more harm than good to humans. 

Having owned up to my biases, let me share a few existential experiences of past weeks.  Perhaps we wouldn’t have discovered the newfound resilience in my younger son, who is away and by himself. The culinary dexterity of my older son, who is with us during this lock-down, has been unraveled as also our frequent indulgences.   I have had his company for more drinks in past few weeks than perhaps the preceding decade.  The three-month young relationship with daughter-in-law is filled with micro-moments of joy.  There are similarly rich experiences for my friends, their families and scores of others.

I am celebrating what many a blogger has talked about -- a healing touch that earth is receiving through respite from ecological destruction or the animals roaming freely in the city (aka a human-zoo to them now) where we have caged ourselves in homes. Surely, not everyone may be a gig worker, like me.  Perhaps, we have varying means & amenities and of course, there are struggling billions around the world whose sustenance is engendered upon stopping of GDP churning mills.

Apparently, people at the BoP (Bottom of Pyramid) are displaying more patience and resilience than some of the industry captains.  Big businesses seem worried about drop in discretionary spending of consumers or erosion of market cap which will lower their creditworthiness (pun intended).

At a time when 1 in 5 cases of COVID has resulted in “Death” (pl refer charts below), no one has any idea of the penetration level which will help humankind cross the herd immunity threshold. However, the large picture as I see is a big upside hockey stick curve R when you keep 100-year perspective.  Those with 1 year or smaller horizon “L” curve has already become their reality.  Perhaps, those with a 3-year perspective are staring at a “U” curve and those with 5+ years perspective are hoping for the “V” shaped recovery.  The shape of the curve lies in the vantage point you hold. 

I would like to believe that I’ve another forty years of life ahead of me.  Therefore, I hold a two-generation perspective.  To me the human growth curve appears steep upward up with a hockey-stick shape.  You may call me foolish, but I would like to belong to a generation which stopped their GDP mills to allow healing for the earth and minimized the death & destruction faced by Humankind in 2020.

What’s the time horizon of your perspective? What’s your experience and worldview today? What are you committed to, besides the social distancing?





Wednesday, 11 March 2020

The Joy of Journey




Inspired by adage, “The joy is in the journey”, in my Leadership workshops I often preach that the joy of life lies in the journey and not the intermittent destinations.  The consciousness of this adage has indeed helped me in life’s many pursuits.  Last year, as a Fellow program student at Indian School of Business, I began yet another life journey, the very first residency “The Philosophy of Science” steered by Prof. Sanjay Kallapur brought home one more time the same message that “The Joy of science lies in journey…

Although at several phases of life, the delight from my voyage has been more than that triggered by crossing a milestone: but it’s never been as vivid as currently.  Every single month, the cohort group pursuing Executive Fellow Program go to ISB; our pursuit is -- dive deep into a management/ leadership discipline, learn from the global experience and perspectives brought by the faculty and evolve/ refine our respective themes of research.  My additional motivation is to spend time with the accomplished bunch of classmates who inspire me, challenge my dreams, shape my thoughts and often illuminate the paths. 

Every single month, during past 8 months, I go to my abode ISB with a new treasure of my research dreams; that I would have passionately built with complete devotion.  I arrive at ISB’s residencies with a creator’s expression that is akin to the child who in her mind created the most amazing sandcastle in the world.  A castle that is grandiose with multiple gateways and embellishments of seashells & pebbles.  Similarly, every month, when I bring out my research treasure, it appears bigger than the sum of insights form years of professional practice.  The fate it meets is same: it only lasts until the next wave or a strong blow of wind.  And, I am back to square one, with enchanting sand around me, an appeal of seashells and the attraction to dreams to build my treasure-castle.

Initially, I thought a grander castle meant a bigger one or a more intricate one or perhaps the one which earned applause. However, slowly this is being replaced with the idea of an elegant castle, which may be humble yet hold a meaning, not just for me but others as well.  Perhaps my current idea of elegance may last till the next wave. 😊

Until then, the guiding force appears to be an Osho saying, ‘Knowledge functions as a wall: Innocence functions as a bridge’.  Can I sustain the innocence and not succumb to the intoxication of knowledge? Perhaps, that’s going to be the clue to enjoying my journey.


Monday, 10 June 2019

Beautiful Ugliness


Last week, I watched most of the ODI played between India and South Africa.  Thanks to my son being in England that day & being among the audience at Southampton; possibility of catching him live glued me more to the match than the pace of the match or my general levels of indifference to cricket. Following day the Economic Times carried an article on the match with a heading “Rohit struggled and batted ugly against South Africa, but that was probably his best innings NEVER GIVE UP”.


It was an innings where Rohit struggled for over an hour before he found form to score.  But in that one hour when the balls were proving elusive, he managed to give up on his ego and didn’t mind looking ugly.  It takes courage to let vulnerability of one’s ugly side pop out and stay focused on the long-term goal.  Rohit didn’t mind looking ugly. For, he knew that with Shikhar Dhawan & Virat Kohli back in pavilion his survival was most important for India to stay in the game.

Picasso's  Old Woman  (1901)
How often have you let your ugly side take front stage?  Think about it -- as a parent, as an understanding spouse, as a boss who leads her team or as a mentor who is keen about insightful learning or growth of her mentee.  In each of these relationships you play the role of a leader, particularly when you are committed to a goal large than yourself.  It is a type of leadership that is not about titles, status and power over others. 

Often  in these situations you dare to lead without fear of rejection by others.  The sight of your goal and associated accountability perhaps brings out your best foot forward.  The tentativeness of your steps not withstanding you continue to be on crease to face the rough & tough bowling. In these situations, people often find courage to ask difficult questions to oneself and others.  Holding courageous conversations with significant others, unmindful to their ugly side popping up.  I am sure many of you reading this have done the courageous act of showing up your vulnerable side in personal as well as professional life. 

Please do commemorate your perceived ugliness of the most laudable moments and best contributions you may have made to someone’s world.  How about sharing something here to inspire others and encourage people to own up & celebrate their Beautiful ugliness.




Monday, 14 January 2019

To live your Potential, help others succeed

Our Trek to Kareri Lake - Camera Malathi Panchwagh

Writing this first blogpost of 2019, while the festivities, the greetings season and the new year resolutions are still on.  Isn’t it befitting to dream of going beyond ‘your best’ this year? Have you ever wondered, what does it take to move you beyond ‘your best’?  

How does one achieve that? Surpassing your peak.  At the start of this wonderful year, in response to this reflection, I am in touch with those occasions, when I have felt most fulfilled.  For me a sense of completion, fulfillment and the zenith has almost always been associated with others’ success. 

Whenever I have strived to make others happy & joyous I have been delighted.  I was rewarded every time I supported others accomplish their goals.  This has always been true; as a parent, manager/ leader, trainer, coach and consultant.  My colleague Suresh says, “If you make others successful, then the bigger success awaits you”.  This equation has proved itself many times over.  In the novel “The Palace of a Thousand Rainbows” Bilol Bose writes “…life is not a compulsion, it is the excitement of being worthwhile to someone you care for."

As a consultant when I focus on client benefits, as a coach/ mentor when I focus on the mentee’s potential, as a leader when I focus on results & team’s well being and as a parent when I am engaged with my child’s growth – I am focusing on their success.  And, such involvement, always brings out the best in us, leading us to unlock the hidden potential. 

The good part is that, this philosophy is contagious.  When I formed my consulting organization, it led us to coin the tagline “just add passion” (www.potentia.in).  The spirit of this tagline has always pushed us to strive for success of our clients. Over the years, we have reaped the rewards of deep satisfaction, state of flow and thriving. 

What makes it possible for families, organizations and communities to unlock their potential? It is a sense of abundance. An appreciation that the “win-win” is a ‘law of the nature’.  But in a paradigm characterized by fear, scarcity and competition - most of us in this world get caught in the win-lose propositions. 

So if you want this new year to better your previous best than one sure shot way is to contribute to others success around you.  Please remember that the definition of someone’s success must be seen from her/ his point of view; not yours.  Can you contribute towards success as defined by them? If you are unable to contribute than at least rejoice intheir success and not sulk, feel jealous or disappointed; for, these are the starting points of a downward spiral. 

As the 2019 unfolds, I am setting out the intent -- may we all and our loved ones find a sense of abundance and awaken the greatness within.

Thursday, 27 December 2018

Me, Myself & I

As the curtain comes down on 2018, I’m reminiscing some songs that have stirred & impacted me this year.  For me the year turned out to be a one, in which, I had to transcend more relationships than I had thought, when the year began.  Therefore, the first song that reverberates continues to be my evergreen favorite number चलते चलते मेरे ये गीत याद रखना, कभी अलविदा ना कहना  (in the passing, remember my songs, and never say goodbye).

Last July, listening to this song humbled me.

Oh, it's just me, myself and I

Solo ride until I die

‘Cause I got me for life

Oh, I don't need a hand to hold

Even when the night is cold

I got that fire in my soul[1]


Reminding me of the solo ride of life, it inspired me to continue being in touch with that fire in my soul. This reinforced for me - seeking the fulfilment within doesn’t need a big plan; it just surfaces when one adjusts the radio frequency to peep within. 

 The other day, driving to airport during the bewitching hours I tuned into Fever FM. RJ Urmin was chatting with Bollywood score composer Jeet Ganguly. Jeet’s narration about making of the title song of खामोशियाँ (khamoshiyan or the silences) touched me deeply.  The songs says --

खामोशियाँ आवाज़ हैं

तुम सुनने तो आओ कभी

छू कर तुम्हें खिल जाएँगी

घर इनको बुलाओ कभी

बेकरार है बात करने को

कहने दो इनको ज़रा


 क्या उस गली में कभी तेरा जाना हुआ

जहाँ से ज़माने को गुज़रे ज़माना हुआ

 

खामोशियाँ एक साज़ है

तुम धुन कोई लाओ ज़रा

खामोशियाँ अल्फ़ाज़ है

कभी गुनगुना ले ज़रा[2]


This song not only helped me to celebrate the silences around but also made me aware of my own journey over the years. A transformative journey of accepting my unclaimed introversion, wherein I found myself with nothing but my heartbeat by my side.  Initially it had felt lonely but in due course, turned out to be a precious movement from loneliness to solitude.  If you have taken a trip within than perhaps you will resonate with my feelings of satisfaction, peace and joy.

When you spontaneously tune into the music around, breaking free from the societal boxes, becomes easy.  My gratitude for life kindled to a new high, when a song I stumbled upon not only put me in touch with the “fountain of youth” but also made me realize that “I’m getting to my best years yet”. “The Older I Get” by Alan Jackson which goes like this --


The older I get

The more I think

You only get a minute,

better live while you’re in it

'Cause it’s gone in a blink

And the older I get

The truer it is

It’s the people you love, not the money and stuff

That makes you rich

 

The older I get

The fewer friends I have

But you don’t need a lot when the ones that you got

Have always got your back

And the older I get

The better I am

At knowing when to give

And when to just not give a damn

 

And I don’t mind all the lines

From all the times I’ve laughed and cried

Souvenirs and little signs of the life I’ve lived

 

The older I get

The longer I pray

I don’t know why, I guess that I

Got more to say

And the older I get

The more thankful I feel

For the life I’ve had, and all the life I’m living still


Serendipitous instances, much like listening to these songs and realising a few home truths about my being, have often proved transcendental. Such points have helped me uncover the holes & crevices I didn’t know exist; letting discover elements within myself.  These times have made me less incomplete. In turn, helping me own up my disowned parts and experience wholesomeness in company of my heartbeat.

My realization, when one’s life is punctuated by silences (reflections within) and hyphenated with mindful moments, it facilitates the ‘makeover’.  A process where fragmented “I” paves way for a more aligned “me” and the fractured “me” makes way for an integrated “myself”. 

For me the journey from “I” to “Me” and “Me” to “Myself” has often meant to shed facades, embrace the disowned parts and celebrate the transitions.  However, I must hasten to add that this process is never complete.  For, it gives rise to a new “fragmented I” as soon as Harish makes the “integrated myself” a holy grail, making this an ever-expanding spiral. 

“Be satisfied enough to be happy and dissatisfied enough to grow” has been an adage that has propelled me through life.  However, embracing this adage has meant finding a pause or ठहराव; it is a word in Hindi, for which I don’t find an English equivalent (the closest perhaps is pause/ abeyance).  As I look forward to 2019, I am wishing for myself a little more ठहराव. 

Wishing you all the very best of 2019.  Do share the poetry & songs that touch your life -- harish@potentia.in



[1] Me, Myself & I – song by American rapper G-Eazy – 2015
[2] Source & Translation at: http://www.krazylyrics.in/2014/12/15/khamoshiyan-translation-arijit-singh/