Freedom

October 13:  Thought for the day

For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others……… Nelson Mandela

Who could have emphasized this better than Nelson Mandela himself, who was kept in captivity for 27 years in jail. Only someone whose freedom is comprised or curtailed knows the true value of being free.  Otherwise we take our freedom and independence so much for granted that we don’t realise it’s value.  All this affects the way we treat and respect the freedom of others.

It is also imperative that we break the chains of vices and addictions that plague us on a regular, if not daily basis.  Bad habits and inertia are equally toxic.  All of this has to be worked on, one day at a time, to erode and chip it off, little by little, till such time this chipping off also becomes a routine.

Another way one can cast off or break one’s chains is to increase the positivity in one’s life.  It’s easier said than done, coz in today’s world where skepticism is rife and negativity and intolerance seems to be the order, it’s really challenging to stay positive.  But being positive is the best way in the long run.

Through a combination of the above, can we be free in the real sense of the word and that will help us to respect the freedom of others too.

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Service with a smile

October 12, 2017.

Thought for the day:  The miracle is not that we do this work, but that we are happy to do it…….. Mother Teresa.

Not of all us can do great things, but we can do little things with great love.

Mother Teresa was the epitome of humility and service.  She DID things with great love.  The key being ‘doing’.  She didn’t only preach, she practised first.

Many of us find it difficult to put into practise whatever we decide.  We are mostly armchair activists and talkers.  We will give advise to people, and we almost always know what is to be done, how it has to be done, whats the best outcome to expect etc. etc.  But we NEVER DO IT!

Why?

We must start to think….what is so challenging about ‘DOING’?

I’m trying to think about the above statement said by Saint Mother Teresa.  Why did she make that statement? What is the message in it for me?  Oh!  after pondering, my guess is, that Saint Mother would have been responding to someone commenting on the miraculous work that she is doing in looking after the lepers and how she probably does it.  To which she may have responded by saying that ‘the miracle is not that we do this work, but that we are happy to do it’!

I think this statement holds true for all of us who are CSR practitioners.  It’s how we work against the tide sometimes, and how we struggle and end up getting shortchanged due to various reasons and therefore disappointed.  But we still move ahead as we love what we do and we know it’s for a higher purpose.  We live in hope that someday, when people start to see the fruits of our labour, patience and toil, they will start believing and extend more support in this change process.  It is this hope kept alive, that helps us love our work more and more…..and not just do it.  It is the passion to make a positive difference in the lives of people and to be the change that one wants to see in the world, that makes us happy to not only do our work, but often makes it seem like a miracle…..

I am delighted that after pondering on Saint Mother Teresa’s words actively for over three days, that i finally could relate it to my own experiences and therefore get the true meaning of her profound statement.

Double Standards

Today whilst chatting with a dear friend, i was unpleasantly surprised to know how a famous Gynac, who is also a HOD in a hospital, has an issue in her son’s wife delivering girl twins.  A couple of years ago, when i was watching Aamir Khan’s Satyamevajayete, I was a bit skeptical when it was mentioned that it’s the educated who also indulge in domestic violence, female feoticide, female infanticide etc.  Today’s conversation took me back to that discussion and i had living proof of a progressive family who are also unhappy with the situation that their daughter in law gave birth to girls.  How unfortunate our country is.  And imagine, it’s the mother-in-law, who is also a female, who nutures these unfortunate thoughts!

On another note, getting off this point, i wonder how many of us indulge in random ‘forwards’ and ‘share’ on social media just because we liked something.  How many of us decide that whilst we like it, what is the action that we are going to take, that will inch us towards that state of mind or being, as described in that ‘forward or share’!  We are all just creatures of habit and therefore many of us mindlessly forward stuff.  We don’t internalise anything, nor do we take any action that will help us internalise.  We often don’t even realise that we are not adding any value to ourselves by just forwarding.  That’s because we love what we read, we tell ourselves – ‘wow, this is so good, let’s share’, but what good is it for others, if you cannot make a change for the better with yourself.  Practise before you preach, I say, mind it!!!

A beautiful mind

October 11:  Thought for the day

Behind everything beautiful, there has been some kind of pain………Author Unknown

The author here is unknown perhaps because this is so embedded in our life, that all that pain goes unnoticed, because life is beautiful.  There is no gain without pain.

If we were to analyse the process of birthing, most mothers will agree that delivering a baby is the most painful part in the pregnancy cycle.  But it’s only when the mother goes through that pain, does a new life begin, which is the sweetest part of the process.

 

Resilience

October 10, 2017

Thought for the day:

I don’t measure a man’s success by how high he climbs but how high he bounces when he hits bottom…….George Patton

I want to revisit 2010.  I was CEO of NASSCOM Foundation (NF) for the past five years then, on the verge of a successful merger between Guidestar India and NF.  At the top of my game there, i decided to cross over back to the for-profit sector and therefore joined an Animation company as their Head – Strategy and HR in 2010.  This was a complete contrast to what i had expected and experienced.  I had entered into an era where there was no structure, no or almost absent corporate fiscal discipline, employees were not paid salaries on time, the bench was unsustainable, there was no alignment in thought and action between the CEO & COO, work was trickling in and all this resulting in a really bad phase of corporate life for me.  I had never experienced anything like this every before.  Suddenly from the top of my game, i was in the pits!  Literally speaking, i was in doldrums.  I just was sinking lower and lower……didn’t have the inclination or energy to do something.  Didn’t know what to do, how to do and most importantly kept thinking on how i got into this mess.  Oh gosh, what a horrible period that was.

I needed to garner all my positivity (whatever was left of it by then) to try to bounce back.  Luckily for me, i have two great friends, who motivate me, nudge me, give me a reality check every time i have my head in the clouds etc.  They contributed tremendously to keep me sane and sound.  They just didn’t give up on me.  I thank god for them.  They just kept me alive, mentally!

So when I finally decided to quit the Animation company, I didn’t know what to do next.  How on earth can i now, after two years of being in the dump, admit that i was there.  How do i reach out to people asking for help, when i was always the giver?  How could i tell them i failed and now i need their help?  How do i save my face?  How will people react to my call for help?  Will they take advantage of my situation or will they rise above that to genuinely help?  I just didn’t know what to do.

But what choice did i have?

I could have just got mentally paralysed with my situation (the easier option), or I could have just picked up myself from down there, gather the pieces, swallow my pride or ego, and started to move……

It was not easy…..drove me crazy to think that here i was, stupid to leave at the peak of my career, take a risk, cross over (after doing a lot of due diligence, research etc. but still it went wrong), and now down but not out….

So i picked up the second option of bouncing back….

I listed down 20 top CEOs that i knew from the NASSCOM Foundation network of IT Companies.  I wrote to each of them, asking for a job, telling them that i made a mistake etc., but now need to get back on track.

To my pleasant surprise, i received positive feedback/ responses from a few (more than i expected).  One such email resulted in me getting a job within 15 days, and i moved to Bangalore to join VBHC Education Services.

This entire episode taught me several lessons:

  1.  It’s easier said than done about this falling down and getting up, or bouncing back when you hit the bottom……OMG, is that something…..it’s tough, it’s a test of your mind, your spirit and confidence.  Phew!  It was a crazy ride
  2. You really get to find out who your real friends are (a friend in need is a friend indeed…. should be read as ‘a friend in need is a friend in DEED!!)
  3. Factors that arise out of your locus of control, can affect you both favourably and adversely and one must be prepared.
  4. Don’t over-leverage yourself.  Don’t overspend.  Save for a rainy day. etc…..this is advice we hear over and over again, but in my case, i thought i was over-smart and didn’t give this much credence.  Till this adversity hit me.  It’s better to learn faster than later.
  5. Beggars can’t be choosers:  I put this idiom to use in my life at that time.  I picked up the first job i was offered.  I didn’t wait for the perfect one, i didn’t wait for a convenient location or profile or position.  I just grabbed with both hands whatever came my way
  6. Gratitude:  is the best attitude.  I will never forget those who helped me through this tough period
  7. You are your best friend and you can only depend on yourself.  Believe in yourself and you will never let yourself down.

Therefore from that day forward, i believed in myself alot more than before.  I loved myself a lot more.  And my attitude towards gratitude became stronger.

Forgive

October 9, 2017:  Thought for the day

He that cannot forgive others, breaks the bridge over which he must pass himself; for every man has need to be forgiven……Lord Herbert

Jesus said in one parable when asked by someone on how many times he must forgive his brother, after already forgiving him seven times.  To which Jesus replied, seventy time seven….. One sunday after mass where part of the scripture was read, I was discussing this with a priest and said that seventy times seven in a lifetime is also finite to that extent, to which the priest corrected my interpretation and clarified to me that Jesus meant, seventy times seven everyday, yes you are rightly reading it, everyday.  Which means that one needs to forgive at every step of the way through the day….

From that day forward, i try to keep this in mind, but it’s a big challenge to practise the same, especially in the middle of our egos, mind games and manipulations.  Like most other virtues, forgiving is really tough.  Hence there is another idiom which states; to err is human, to forgive divine!  It’s almost a godly trait, which is challenging for us mere mortals.

Another story or line said by another priest has struck a chord with me, and i try to practise, but again not to 100%.  Once a priest in his homily stated, that one should not come to mass, without forgiving your brother (brother is used generally to describe anyone ie.neighbour, friend, relative, colleague etc).  He emphasised, that we should partake in the Eucharist, if we have hate, malice and unhappiness in our hearts, and that our hearts must be healed before we come in the presence of the Lord.

So what do we do, where do we start?  I think the best place to do so is in our families.  If we can manage forgiveness amongst ourselves in a family unit, we can then take it forward outside.  Even if we just stick to forgiveness amongst family, it’s a big leap.  We somehow take our family members for granted.  Whether they are older than us, or younger, forgiveness doesn’t come easily.  It should.  The home is a fertile ground to practise forgiveness, both for asking and for giving.  This also sets a good tone for members of the family to be open to each other, be honest and transparent.  Under these circumstances, forgiveness will thrive.  And these become bridges for each one on which we can go over troubled waters whenever there is a need.

Let’s all help each other to build their bridges, repair the ones that have become weak and navigate more conveniently over the path of life.

 

 

A fresh start

Over the last two days i was wondering how i can consistently contribute to this blog.  I needed to put some structure or some kind of pattern to get me to start writing on a topic(s) to gain momentum.  That’s when i looked around and found this desktop perpetual calendar, that has thoughts for the day!  Lo and behold!  I found an answer.  I decided to take that thought, ponder over it and pen them down…..hopefully once i get started and do it regularly, i can build up a good habit of writing.

Thought for today:

October 6:  If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything……Mark Twain

If it’s this simple, where is the challenge….why don’t we practise this?

I am always going to write only from personal experiences.  My sense is if we start by being transparent, it helps us to develop ourselves into becoming truthful too.  One of the reasons we are not transparent is a thought about ‘log kya kahenge’ or ‘what will people think of me’!  This is one of the biggest barriers to living a full life, coz when we start to hide or conceal things because of this mindset, we end up bottling up a lot inside of us.  The second reason could be about ‘pleasing people all the time’ or not being able to say ‘no’.  I find this also a big issue with most people who end up being ‘used’ or manipulated by vested interest.  Assertion is key in a happy and successful life.  If one masters this art, then transparency can be achieved and we could well be on our way to leading a more truthful life.

In my opinion there is no absolute truth.  It’s only a perspective.  Coz very often what one would consider the truth, could only be that person’s interpretation of one’s understanding.  I have always analysed situations, people and events in not only a broader perspective, but also added a bit of empathy to it.  Once this is done, then i also try to think about the alternate view as well as the motive behind such an action.  Add a dash of positivity to this process and one can come up with various interpretations….and all could be right, all could be wrong…. and all could be considered the truth…..then who decides what’s the truth.

The truth told should be just a verbal manifestation of what actually happened, without tainting it with your thoughts, feelings, emotions or any other periferie information.  Once this is done, you don’t have to remember anything…..