Time


Needless to say, it is the most precious commodity. Every second that passes, reduces that from our balance. Unlike money that can be earned to keep the balance stable, we can’t earn it back. Yes we do make efforts to increase the available time that we have left. We try hard to slow down the process of ageing. We want to ensure that time doesn’t run out quickly.

The other way of course is to maximise value of time. It’s like getting a bigger bang for every buck that we spend. So we seek to make the most of every second available to us.

There are products and services that make money out of it. When you use any device to get access (a call, a message, mail or whatever), you pay for the time you have used the service. Modes of transport also make you pay for the time saved. A flight vs a train. A car vs walking. Even the watch on your wrist, you paid for it. There is a price to pay when you want to make the most of available time.

More often than not, we focus our attention on what’s most important to us in that particular second. We prioritise. We have a “to do list!” We pack in as much as possible.

But the unfortunate part is, we are always running out of time. There are always events around us that stop us from making the most of our time. Think about it. From the time you get up to the time you go to sleep, can you claim that you did justice to every second of that day? Did you do all your work and connected with everyone who matters to you? Did you make everyone around you happy?  If the answer is yes to all, an honest answer, then you are truly a magician

The truth is, we struggle and we juggle. And since everyone cannot be a magician, we do tend to drop the balls. Some we catch, some we don’t. Probably what we catch are not the right ones. But as the saying goes, we can’t make all the people happy all the time.

The screw up though is that we use this as an excuse and we choose who to make happy. That becomes your priority list. We prioritise people and events that will have a future bearing on our being content. It is a selfish way of looking at things but hey, that’s also about making the most of the time right?

For many of us, while we know there is all the pressure in ththe world bearing down on us, we let ourselves have time for ourselves. Do things that we want to do rather than being driven by all the people and events that are vying for a time ( distraction is the term people around us will use)

Now I am possibly the one who is very bad at time management. Imagine, I could be doing something far more constructive than wasting my time putting up this post about time! But that’s me. Yes I will get through the day too and get the required things done but just like the time I spend at the gym as ‘me time’, this post also is my ‘me time’.

I am not chasing longevity. I don’t want to make the time last forever. I want it to move at the pace it is moving. I want to do things that matter but as someone said yesterday, we only control 10% of the things in our lives. Else everything else is an environmental impact.

(Image courtesy: Dick Bolles.com)

Unifinished


It’s a scary word.

We all like to live a structured life. Things happen when they are meant to. We make a ‘to do’ list. For work as well as for personal life. The list could have two things to do or ten, but we make the list. It could be on a piece of paper, digital or in our heads. Ticking off things as they get done.

It starts from an early age. The school time table for each day. And it becomes a habit.

We start to live by the list. Everything is done according to the list. Even during the down time, we are thinking about the things that we need to get done.

When we go to bed at night, we think about all that was accomplished from the list. We feel good about getting everything done and then think about things that need to be done next day.

A structured life is considered successful. Have read a lot of self help stuff on how important it is to make a list – for a day, for a month, for a year and even for your entire life! Structure is what sets us humans apart from other animals.

Work to be done. Bills to be paid. Things to be bought… endless.

Hence ‘unfinished’ is a scary word. If there is a task that is left unfinished, it gnaws at our mind. Sits there poking our brain that we need to finish the task. We need the closure. It is unsettling. We worry that people will brand us as procrastinator.

But I want to question this premise. Are we becoming so driven by the ‘to do’ that our entire thinking is governed by that list? I know of a few who are so focused that their mind probably short circuits if they have to think of something that’s not on the list! Linearity must be maintained. Is there ever a winding down that happens? Where we just let go and not think about things to do. Our weekends also are a list of things to do. Even our holidays!! Why??

In my entire working life, I have never made a ‘to do’ list. Well actually I tried it a few times and it just didn’t work. While am not a model of the so called successful people, I think I have turned out alright. Unfinished for me doesn’t mean am not doing it, unfinished for me means that the particular task needs time to finish in the most productive way rather than it being a process and strcuture. It makes my mind run unfettered and be creative. It makes me act on impulse and get excited over little things. It keeps me connected to the child in me. Conventionality and predictablity are so boring. Working towards a defined outcome makes the mind focus only on that particular outcome.

We were given the power of thinking, not to put a structure to it but to think in a freewheeling style.

Think about it. Most startling discoveries have happened when the mind was not thinking a structure or a format. Pursuing a predictable outcome makes us rats or monkeys in a controlled environment of a large lab called society and work culture.

Coming back to unfinished. Yes there is work to be done and if I was a list driven person, I would not have had time to post this. 🙂

Let me take a selfie first!


So across IPL, mobile handsets seem to be advertising a lot. With a single theme. Phones to take great selfies! Group selfies. Perfect selfies. Etc etc. The camera seems to be in focus (no pun) for most of these brands.

Selfistan says one brand. It’s like Hindustan can only think of selfies. Umm perhaps yes. When the leader of the country is into selfies big time!

It’s a craze alright. Go to a mall and it is tough to walk down the aisles without tripping over people taking selfies! And it’s not just one. People will spend time to get the selfie right. Also there is something called a mood shot (my daughter told me what it means), get a friend to click a pic where the person is looking away from the camera staring into nothing.

Where do these selfies go? What purpose do they achieve? Sometimes I wonder if Facebook, instagram and Pinterest, and the lens manufacturers are contributing money to these ad campaigns (like intel used to for laptops).

While I haven’t checked the prices for these phones(maybe I should), there is a certain TG and their psychographics that are being addressed. A desperate need to look good, a desperate need to be part of happening people. Selfies (while they are pics of selfs) have a very outward social expression. They are the ones who are responsible for the growth of of low priced but high on packaging phones.

iPhone 6 and 7 for instance. Great cameras but the advertising was more inward expresssion. Not about selfies at all (sure most of the time will be used for selfies) but about capturing a moment. The expression being much higher, away from social expression but more inwards. Yes those pictures will also make it to social media. But the “wow” will be very different from the wow created by selfies.

Coming back to selfies, I think they have also become a tool of building self confidence (even if it is photoshopped and use of all the filters). It helps the people to feel good about themselves. Also when our lives are being led in the virtual world, where meeting in real rarely happens, it is good to create a good looking profile.

It is about the innate desire to hear compliments. Be part of beautiful and good looking culture. Yes, men click selfies too. With the advent of fitness culture (most go to the gym to attain a great body), guys have selfies of them showing their body. I have come across a few instances where guys were clicking pictures of each other working out (no guesses on why). :p

So how long will this trend last? It has been on for a while now and doesn’t seem to be waning.

The other side


Back when there was no digital age ( yes millennials, there was an age like that!), we were perhaps lot more circumspect, lot more understanding, had a well thought opinion. We had newspapers which always had a counterpoint. We had editors for these newspapers who put a high price on every word that went into the newspaper.

Not anymore. In this digital age, we are quick on the uptake,  finger on the hair trigger, short fuse, shoot first is the way to go.

We read something (facebook, twitter, whatsapp are not for news people!), and we go all out to take a stand. It doesn’t matter to us if what we read is true or not. We don’t wait to check the veracity.

We show our angst, our rage, our support, and every possible emotion that is elicited.

One guy says he had problem with a brand, a thousand people will join to trash the brand. Controversies bring out the worst in us and in our responses. Most of the time, we have no clue as to the real story. We read one version and BOOM!

Newton’s Third Law was “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”.

When we read something, do we stop to think and consider why it happened? Or we go with whoever between the two was able to get his words in before the other person could.

In digital age, whoever gets the first one in, is the winner. Nothing else matters after that. The other person can cry himself hoarse to give his side of the story. Won’t work. We have already read, believed and commented on the first story and moved on. We are not even there to hear the counterpoint.

What is making things worse is that we have carried out online behaviour into the real world. Or maybe our real world behaviour impacted online. We have all seen instances where if a person is being beaten up in public, crowd gathers and puts in a punch or two of their own.

All of this is leading to something scary in the future. Our behaviour is becoming increasingly violent. Almost like Wild West.

Imagine someday that finger will press the button that will lead to a holocaust. And it will never be a comsidered response. It will always be a result of a hysteria.

While the digital age has been good in many ways, it has also been responsible for many things going wrong in the world. It is very easy to start a rumour and then watch while the world burns. Because no one has the time of the attention span to verify facts. Journalism too unfortunately has fallen prey to this. From writing a well thought out piece in the newspaper to “news in 60 words” and trying hard to stay afloat, it prefers to show snippets of what was shot by an onlooker. It believes what started as a post on social media.

I guess we all need to pull ourselves back just a little bit. Get both sides of the story before forming an opinion. Count to 10 or maybe 100 before giving a response. It might, just might calm this world down.

Intolerant! Who we?!


Shame on you people for calling us intolerant. We are the most tolerant society in the world. We have a history that is so rich and so embedded in being civilised. 

Where else will you find so many religions, so many Gods coexist in such a peaceful way.

We believe in “live and let live” philosophy to the hilt.

We believe in “atithi dev bhavo” completely.

We do not believe in caste system. I mean look at us. We have created reservation for lower castes in the last century and we still continue with it. 

We do not believe in misuse of the power that has been bestowed on us. Shame on you Trump for behaving the way you do. Just because you are President of the United States of America.

If anything untoward happens, like shutting down of meat shops and KFC in Gurgaon or beating up of the Africans or cops rounding up Juliets too in the anti Romeo drive, we have not done that. It is some external force playing mischief and trying to create problems in this peaceful country of ours.

So please do not call us intolerant in anyway. We are the most peaceful and happy nation in the world (our ranking of 122 on happiness index again is a manipulation of the world that doesn’t like India being such a peaceful super power).

Leader


So what does it take to be leader?

There are enough books on the shelves that promise to make you a great leader.

On LinkedIn, there are enough and more posts like “10 effective habits of a leader” etc.

There are articles that map lives of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and many others to drive home the point of how to be a leader.

Articles on how leadership is inherent or acquired skill.

But really, what does it take to be a leader?

Is it that you start an organisation (akin to “I have the bat, I will be the captain), naturally you will be the leader. You will hire people and they will look up to you since you own the business and own them.

You join an organisation and rise through the hierarchy basis your performance to the top spot. Keep in mind, you have been promoted to that leadership position purely because you were a performer. It is a given that you were performing because you were leading a team and made them perform. But the people who report to you, do they consider you a leader or they accept the fact that you are the boss? Will they follow you to hell and back? And if they do, are they doing it because they believe in YOU or have they tied their fortunes to your growth and hence they will do anything.

I am sure many of you will tell me that am wrong. Leaders are also the ones who have empathy, they care for the people “who work for them”, they have heart. Leaders lead by example… so on and so forth.

All this will just be a distinction between a dictator and a benevolent dictator.

It is all about leading and following. Leadership is always about being the alpha (no gender discrimination here) in the group. Being an alpha comes from the position you have. Plain and simple. You take on a position and get others to follow you.

It’s true in corporate world, in politics, in sports and even in relationships. So let’s just cut the bull@&*% and accept that you became a leader because you were better than others – your performance, your knowledge, your manipulation skills, your rhetoric, your ability to know the pulse of the people. It has nothing to do with inherent or acquired skills. You are leading because you WANT to. There is always a motive.

From kings to politicians to social activists to armies to sports captains, there has always been a desire to lead which helped them manipulate things in their favour.

I guess all this flies in the face of what people believe about leaders. Nobody becomes a leader even though he/she had no desire. (That’s a lot of…)

We lead because we want to. And we will do everything to attain that.

I haven’t ever read any of the so called leadership guides. I haven’t read or followed habits of a true leader. Guess I will never be a leader in the way world looks at it. I always called myself a benevolent dictator 🙂

And I am ok with that!

Law of Unintended Consequences


There actually is a law like this and the definition is:

In the social sciences, unintended consequences (sometimes unanticipated consequences or unforeseen consequences) are outcomes that are not the ones foreseen or intended by a purposeful action.” The term was popularised by American Socialogist Robert K. Merton.

It is interesting right? And what’s even more interesting is that this law is operating all the time in our lives. Whether it is work or personal life, there are always unintended consequences.

Some consequences we are aware of, and some we don’t even realise. But there are far reaching effects of some decisions we take. Not all unintended consequences are directly impacting us or even indirectly. So we don’t bother about them.

We have been taught to think in a linear fashion. No matter how much one reads about lateral thinking (and even that is in relation to us and what we do), our thinking is very linear. A to B to C and so on. Alphabets are linear so are numbers. Our verbal and numerical abilities are conditioned to think in a linear fashion.

We have faith and destiny to blame when our actions lead unintended consequences.

In business for instance, growth is the driver. All our attention is focused on growing, become bigger, becoming a market leader. So all our actions, our decisions are aimed towards growth (I won’t mention profit here since in the so called e-commerce, no one thinks profit).

Snapdeal for instance, grow, grow, grow was driving it. The founders were solely focused on growth, valuation and funding. Nobody stopped to think even for a moment as to what will happen if things go south. And things did go south. Unintended consequence? Layoffs. So many people suddenly out of job. So is the case with a whole lot of startups and the financial meltdown of 2008.

I have mentioned startups because that’s the burning issue right now but look through the history. Person who discovered all about atom, he would have been happy with the discovery. Would have gone to town talking about it. Would he have ever known that it will become a weapon?

Take politics for instance. When US was courting Osama, did they ever think that he will become a monster and turn back on them? He is gone but the turmoil remains.

The problem lies with us. While we talk about long term thinking, it never is long term. Monthly projections, quarterly projections, annual projections. Stops right there. Of course it would be foolish to think beyond a year in today’s dynamic world but still. Our actions and decisions are driven by short term impact. Long term is nice to talk about in boardrooms but it’s all about here and now.

Organisations don’t waste time in predictive models that will tell them impact of their decisions on a larger environment. Their models tell them about their business in the context of their industry, competition, economy and government regulations. They want a clear cut answers as to what will happen to their growth once they take a certain action. Doomsday scenarios are not in the interest of any strategy person or a consulting organisation. Not taking the unintended consequences into account is passed off as risk taking ability of the person or organisation.

It is our belief that we look at our decisions in the context of consequences. Never unintended consequences. It is not in our DNA. And let’s face it. We can’t keep track of every consequence of our action. Forget unintended, we can’t keep track of every single intended consequence either.

Typically, most of the unintended consequences are negative. Wonder why. I have been trying to think of examples that would show unintended consequence to be a happy one. Haven’t come across any. Would you know?

As always, I am putting this thought out there. Just a thought. To check what do people think of this topic.