Sunday, May 5, 2013

Enjoy the freedom to do what you please - 3

The frog on the boil
By hindsight, all of us can justifiably claim to be ‘wiser.’
In the midst of a crisis, there will always be some who will claim that they had seen it coming.
Be that as it may, what stopped them from raising the alarm earlier on?
Welcome to the syndrome of the ‘Frog on the boil.’

During the 2008 sub prime lending crisis in the US, everyone expected the ‘home loan’ bubble to burst any time but continued to disregard the forebodings. They persisted with taking ever larger exposures thinking they will be the exception to the rule. Unable to size up the true dimensions of a reality, a few played excessively safe or while the majority were reckless in their choice. When the bubble did burst eventually, it spared no one.

Quite like the frog on the boil, some of us may be caught up in a maze.
For a while, we can blame the fate or the circumstances. We can hope for things to get better.
Eventually, we are compelled to realize the futility of holding on to options and choices that may have lost their relevance.
When is patience not a good virtue?

We reach a point of inflection.
A point of no return.

Where lies the secret to detecting that point of inflection?
It lies in the power to make a connection with the inner self.
At that moment, we let go the meaningless props we had mistaken to be our source of support.
We realize how much of an impediment they have become.
We restore our sense of ‘balance’ by connecting with the anchors within.
We learn to weather the storm by our own devices.

For Ram the internal anchor lay in his mastery of the science of numbers.
Dharam realized the significance of robust health above all else. He let go of the idea for IPO.
Suket, summoned the moral courage to do what had to be done, as always.  continuance in the job did not really matter any longer.

If that were so simple, why does it take a crisis to precipitate such a frame of mind?
The catalyst for fresh thinking lies in feeding the mind with challenges it needs to learn afresh to solve.
Not really.

Research on the plight of prisoners of war, illegal immigrants, jail birds and stowaways show that they never surrender to the challenges thrown at them.
Instead they connect with the anchors of freedom, justice, equality or what ever value they hold dear to themselves and launch them afresh.
They do not wait for advice.
If any thing they defy the establishment, embrace the adversity and deal with reality.

Are you surrounded by insurmountable walls around you?
It is time to break free.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Enjoy the freedom to do whatever you please, responsibly - 2

Where lies your passion?

During my early childhood, it was always the youngsters who sought advice and, as a rule, the elders never failed them. Sure enough, the elders ruled and the youngsters obeyed them faithfully. For a long time, I equated wisdom with age and assumed that someday, I would also be considered senior enough to be consulted. 

Alas! By the time I aged enough in my seniority to offer some advice, the rules had changed.

No longer was any advice taken or accepted implicitly.
Often, the seekers of advice argued vehemently as to why the piece of advice I offered at their behest, was not the right one or the only one.

What was even more amusing was that they expressed a measure of disappointment with my inability to be creative or empathetic towards their predicament. 

Crestfallen, to save face, I resisted any temptation to tender advice no matter how sincere the invitation to do so.

Interestingly, a few months down the road, I discovered that they looked relaxed and enthusiastic. 
I was curious to know how they had resolved their challenge. Although their backgrounds and experiences were dissimilar, there was a near unanimity in their evolution. All of them had found the answers, entirely out of their own efforts, and from within. 

Ravi the wizard with numbers, found a third alternative that helped him make the best of both worlds. He set up a query desk in Chennai, for customers the world over to post their problems on that algorithms that run the backbone of the insurance industry. It was painful at start but leaves him highly energized today. 
He loved puzzles and challenges. 
That had always been his passion. 
He had managed to convert his passion into his profession now. 

Dharam discovered that the stock market was a beast with a voracious appetite. 
In trying to appease the market, he did not want to lose the joy of making steady and definite progress through internally generated funds. He could resist the urge for celebrity status and free cash that an IPO brought with it; he was also aware of the price it would extract in terms of his youth and creativity. 

Suket did the unthinkable. 
He identified several time tested ‘people practices’ from the Armed forces that the industry was unwilling to take note of. He met each of the board members individually. 

In absolute privacy, he appraised them of the need for expertise and maturity in addressing the challenges faced by the company. He cautioned them on the ‘low staying power’ of younger executives who may not have the ‘battle scars’ he had picked up along the way. Instead of buckling down under pressure, he had vindicated his value to his employers without closing the doors on fresh talent permanently. 

When the student is ready, the teacher, they say, will appear!
In each of the cases above, the teacher seemed to have appeared from within.

I was curious to know how they had managed to invoke the ‘teacher’ resident within themselves.   

Their determination to stay true to their passion, they said, had made all the difference.
How then, did they manage to discover their true calling or passion in life, I wondered.

What do you think?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Thought catalyst: Enjoy the freedom to do whatever you please, responsibly!

Thought catalyst: Enjoy the freedom to do whatever you please, responsibly!

Enjoy the freedom to do whatever you please, responsibly!

Fun work way

I grew up through my adolescent years very much envious of the grown ups. 

While I had to suffer through parental controls at home, peer pressures at the play ground and the demands of the teachers at school, the elders seemed to have all the fun. 
They had no one to approve of what they wore, ate or did. 
I could not wait to grow up faster. 

Now that I am a grown up entity myself, the idea of fun continues to elude most of us.
Strangely, I find that the children have all the fun today while it is the elders that lament most about not having the freedom to do what they enjoy doing most. 

Ravi has a brilliant mind and is a wizard with numbers. 
At 28 , he is not sure whether he is better off starting a new venture in India or accepting a six figure salary with a US based insurance company that wants him to set up an actuarial practice. 
He finds both of them equally attractive and yet, equally risky. 
He has been postponing the inevitable for over 9 months now. 
Reason: He is not sure which of the two will be the right decision. 

Dharam runs a successful BPO. 
He has built up the company in ten short years into a 100 Million $ enterprise. 
He is a workaholic and keen to go for a Public issue and join the half a Billion $ league by 2015. 
He drove himself so hard that he has been through two by pass surgeries before he turned 35 last December. His family and doctors want him to slow down. 
Instead, his venture capital appointed partners want him to speed up. 
Suddenly all the fun has gone out and no one else wants to carry the ball. 
He feels all alone and is shy to admit his state of helplessness.
He is too overwhelmed to decide what he should do with himself for the rest of his life. 

Suket was a brilliant flight instructor with the Indian Air Force. 
He coveted a PVSM from the President of India before his retirement in 2010. 
Upon invitation from his schoolmate, he accepted the job as a HR head for the company. 
Things seemed to go well until last Christmas.
His friends company was bought over by a larger firm. 
The management has changed hands. 
He knows that the new management team is actively on the look out for a younger HR Head but have not told him about it yet. Suket needs the job because he cannot maintain his lifestyle on the pension from the Armed Forces. He is too embarrassed to admit his dependence on a steady job in the public.
More importantly, he is totally unused to Monster. com and
How does one make a resume, float it on the net and face the interviews conducted by people less than half his age? He is also afraid of upsetting his wife who has just about managed to get comfortable with Civilian life. 
Suket wonders if he can hope to put the fun back into his life. 

In the strictest of confidence they ask: ‘Please, give me some candid advice.’
Can you help them?