The essence of Calm: Before, through & after a storm

At a time when I write this, we have a hurricane creating widespread damage along the South East coast of USA, this after having ripped through the nation of Cuba. Somewhere else in the world, there are massive protests and agitations owing to mishaps, political oversights, societal assertion of heir rights, at times with an overwhelming note that says, “enough is enough”! If you thought this was enough for a day on the planet Earth! Well, try to dig a bit deeper and you will find many unfolding events- seemingly isolated at the start- but as you begin to see the emerging pattern all these seemingly isolated incidents soon enough begin to throw up an interconnected and intertwined pattern that weaves the fate and future of the planet and humanity at large! Join me here as we try to decipher a way around the seemingly fluid conditions that arrive to greet us every morning- whether that’s the co-worker who has decided to move out, the business that wants to shut down or grow fast or a nation that wants to re-write it’s perception- the singular answer that humanity seeks is “How do we stay calm- anchored” with all or any of these playing out around us! So here we go!

To begin with, the reality is, storms are ever present and everywhere- at times visible, at times hidden in lain sight, at times expressed and yet at some other times subtly parked away- only to be sensed by those attuned with the contexts around! Whether it’a massive natural calamity that’s heading your way, a society (of which you are a part of) or perhaps a witness to the unfolding’s around, the only real way to grasp and act or decide not to, will all be achieved and remain effective only as long as you have a quick thinking, flexible, fluid and calm mind at work- a mind that knows too well, that no time is ever right for an emotive response- no matter what the situation is- what really makes sense and matters is a rational and collected calm mind which can open up locked challenges with or without a key- but for sure will always ensure that you as an individual will embrace the least damage in whatever you choose to engage with!

The Calm mind before the storm: A calm mind is able to foresee and anticipate the storm as it begins to gather pace- you may want to argue- why can’t it stop it- that’s where a lot of pre-emptive follies take place- when emotive anxiety overtakes rational and wise observations, many a times we need to act in a rush to solve a problem (which we think is arriving), we actually end up creating more grave and more intense problems which are far more real and damaging and pale in comparison to what would have actually come your way! You see, a calm mind is not about inaction or inertial resistance- it’s more about being able to stay collected, observant and pragmatically thinking to estimate two relevant parameters- how much of what is being gauged- is real and what is the probability of that reality coming to life! It’s only when a correct assessment of a perceived problem is done through this lens, that you will be able to hold a steady hand as you ride through choppy waters of a fierce storm! Like every chef knows too well, great food becomes possible only when ingredients are well picked and uncertainties are dealt with through the process of cooking- all of these requiring a focussed and calm mind!

The Calm through the storm: Whether or not you were able to prep your mind, before storm that came your way, you still have a decent amount of hope on your side if you are able to improvise and stay calm as the storm dawns upon you! Whether it is that tough deadline at work, those spreadsheets and presentations taking a toll, or it’s that number crunching that’s driving you insane or that eternal worry about a perspective client- will they or won’t they sign the dotted line! All of these and many other instances can actually arrive with little or no warning, throwing your minds straight into the proverbial boiling water! When this happens, and it will some or the other time- through your long and illustrious life- you will be gladly surprised that at times, doing nothing at all can be a wonderful thing to do! A calm mind has the potency and power to discern with laser sharp focus and no matter how cluttered the subject on hand- or how ambiguous things may seem to be- as longa s you have a calm and focussed mind- you will be able to firstly decide whether you need to act or not and if you need to, you will be able to calibrate the intensity, force and direction of your action- ensuring you are acting in the right way and the right direction to realize the right results! There’s never anything achieved by burning down your house to kill a rat! Right force- to the right space at the right time, is what translates into great results- don’t believe- talk to the paramedic or the fire fighter in your neighbourhood- they are the finest artists who have mastery on this art of staying calm through a crisis- always and each time!

The Calm after the storm: Now that the worst has passed by (for the moment), a clam mind helps assess the damage/benefit more accurately. Getting emotive, hyper reactive will end up damaging all and any benefit or lessons learnt through the journey, a calm mind will help you assess, articulate and formulate with finesse what works and what doesn’t, so that the next time you face a challenge you have a storm- you know what you should certainly not do! Sure enough not all storms are the same, neither in intensity, nor in their form, but the fact is, as long as you have learnt to harness the power of your mind by staying calm, chances are you will ensure that your damages are lessened with every passing storm, making you more prompt, wise and strong with each passing milestone of your life! Ins’t this the simple and foundational story and fact of our lives- no matter who we are, what we do and the different definition of success that we pursue- as long as we have a great ability of refined discernment- you will almost always be able to wriggle out of complex situations with as minimal damage as possible- the essence also lies in the fact, that to begin with try and avoid getting into those odd spaces (the area where the storms take birth!). This works well when it comes to deal with linear storms, that are unidirectional, but when individuals are confronted with multidimensional storms that have the potency to take down and impact one more more aspects of life definitions, that is when the real test of being “calm” is realized and if you ever happen to get into this space and walk out- perhaps even bruised and battered- but not bitter- trust me you will be completely newer version of yourself – as they say version upgrade2.0 or 3.0 whatever you may think fits well!

I leave you here with these thoughts for now, take some time to connect with that calm within and see the difference it makes for you- to choose your battles, check the storms and then ride ahead with more control and more resilience to emerge on the other side better, even though you may be a bit battered!

Ciao for now, will be back soon with another one, until then the key word- “Calm”- realize, practise and cultivate it!

Tricked by your brain.

We live in an era, which is just that our brains need! Whether you struggle to take simple decisions or end up taking complex decisions on an impulse, whether it is signing up for the wrong vocation or whether it is taking the wrong bus- you can simply put the blame on your seemingly innocent brain- seemingly, because, no matter what your IQ is when the brain decides to call the shots, even the best of minds can go haywire! Join me here we take a sneak peek into this space and try to unravel what perhaps is happening here! So here we go!

There are many wise books out there, written by eminent neuro-scientists, psychologists, medical professionals, psychiatrists, behavioural experts; more or less all of them agree to one simple truth that the human brain is one fascinating machine that can throw all your theories and scientific analysis out of the mind and present situations that one has never thought of! Sure enough, through the last 100 years, as technological advancements have made it possible to assess and experiment the working of the brain- it has simultaneously thrown up more new questions than answers that it has found! Perhaps that explains why more and more medical professionals have started to agree that they don’t have answers to all questions and there is a point where even the best of scientific enquiry will fail and falter!

We dwell in times where instant gratification has got hard wired into us. One primary reason for that is essentially how we have kept evolving as collective societies- some places this aspect has played out more than elsewhere. The reason why instant gratification is so empowering is that, your brain’s love for inertia begins to blossom! Whether it is that communication about a remedy for looking fit, a chocolate that you can binge without worrying about sugar, or that air purifier which promises air as clean as whatever, fruits, apartments, job offers too? well our brains are always seeking to optimize the energy balance of our physical bodies- that implies effort / benefit analysis! So wherever and whenever your brain is able to decipher a decent trade off over effort and benefit- you are tricked! So what’s it’s about eating away that chocolate in the dead of the night, or finishing off those finger crisps while no one is watching, it’s all the part of the game! yes, sure enough office delegation techniques- both upward and downward too are a factor of this albeit with the compounding effect of the ever diminishing intelligence! So what’s the deal here? (another gratification question, I must agree!)

Simply put, our brain’s ability to decipher accurately the effort/ benefit space is what makes us as a species so unique and successful, no doubt around that. The problems start when the brain begins to deploy this while being influenced by inaccurate/misleading/ half-baked content that it receives! This is perhaps what throws even our poor brain off-guard- for beyond a point analysis will give into intermittent analytical paralysis and which will eventually grow into chronic indifference and apathy and end up changing your brain- from being an active -active discerning tool into a passive-passive reactive tool! You’ve heard about that phrase right, “Listen to Act, not to react” well, something like that, but sadly with more long lasting and damaging consequences!

An easy way to guard our brain, from reaching such a seemingly painful and unwarranted stage is to begin to filter what comes it’s way- the old adage “The company you keep!” Well, it works , whether you like it or not, be surrounded by people who are inspiring, more driven to specific causes, pursuing thoughts and ideas those are empowering and aimed for the larger good, looking outwards and upwards through sunshine and storm- this one simple trick will bring in a refreshing change and begin to re-wire and correct the lethargy and inertia over time as these more meaningful impressions begin to over-ride the cobwebs of the less serving and closed loop instances of the bygone time! As with people so with everything else, your choice of residence, it’s upkeep, the hobbies that you pursue, the vocation you choose (importantly the people you choose to work alongside or work for or have them work for you!), the books you read, the information that you soak in- what you allow to assimilate and what is that you filter and delete immediately- all this matters- even as much of this happens in an ongoing manner subconsciously, once you try to apply a focussed and directed effort to fine tune with some effort the results can be far more rewarding and enriching!

More often than not, you will also see that when it’s a fatigued brain, your ability to discern on a topic or task at hand, will seem to sway more towards an emotional response rather then being a calibrated rational discernment which is more logic and facts driven! This is another fall out a tired brain as it tries to strive a balance between the effort/ benefit space, the only undoing being that it’s perhaps not in the best of it’s health to do so! Something similar to wanting to lead when you are not ready for it, or trying to hit the asphalt when you are kind of a little tipsy, if not all sloshed! A tired brain, is in a simple mode- “If this doesn’t kill me, whatever action follows I am good!” so whether it is that meaningless shopping, only to come back and find out you have the same dress back home, or eating to realise, you actually have to rush to the washroom- because you lost track on the amount you binged! or many other such instances, which are almost always followed up with statements like “I should have, could have or would have” acted, done things differently!”

The trick to ensure that the brain is all wired right and is able to discern (and not emote) on the effort/benefit space is to keep it nourished and alert- as you may have guessed it a lot of that depends on what you consume and what is consuming you! Whether it is the food, the ambience, the people, the books, the social fabric around you- as long as you are able to soak in that adds value and empowers you to create lasting value- you will find your brain is as alert as that of a baby and is ready to usher in an eternal bounty of creativity/art and scientific enquiry based on the fundamental trait of a healthy brain- Inquisitiveness! A healthy brain, is always seeking, learning, un-learning, re-learning, adapting, adopting and building on what is meaningful and beneficial on the basis of rational and pragmatic discernment rather than an impulsive emotional response! I am no way suggesting that emoting is of secondary importance, rather when your brain is nourished you will find a greater degree of alignment between your rational discernment and your emotional responses and that’s when you hear the statements like “I love this life as I get to follow my passion and be successful through that!”

I leave you with these thoughts here, urging you to nourish your brain, as you must so that when you have a geared up brain, the tricks that it plays, empower and surprise you in a more welcoming and pleasant way, ensuring you follow a path of empowered thinking, creating more empowered actions for an empowered life!

Ciao for now, will be back soon with another topic, until then stay wise, stay nourished and consume what empowers you, not what consumes you!

Taming ambiguity.

If the bygone years and months have brought to us any worthwhile learning, it is about a singular fact- uncertainty and ambiguity are on the rise and whether we have signed up for it or not, they will come vising us, every now and then! Ironically what makes ambiguity, what it seems to be is, how we receive it, why we do so and what we do about it! Join me here as we try to explore how we can remain sane in an ever increasing insane world around us! So here we go!

To begin with ambiguity manifests in all it’s entirety, when it chooses an individual, organization or a society at large! You may often find islands of peace and control when evaluating ambiguity on a social or collective plane, however that fine line (which is so very important) seems to blur or get lost when it comes to dealing with ambiguity at an individual level!

Unlike conventional thought, ambiguity, chaos, uncertainty are not necessarily regressive or negative- need not be- it’s almost always how we react and prevail over them is what makes them seem to what they eventually end up becoming! Case in point, nations across the world face issues with regards to natural disasters, every now and then, at times with cyclical and predictable accuracy of occurrence,even as the intensity varies- floods, hurricanes, land slides, forest fires, ponder about the region 200 kms around you and I am sure, there is an element of uncertainty that lingers out there from nature’s perspective- but rarely does any of that scare or bother us- because through the evolution and development of the collective society, ways and means have been thought through to deal and engage with these events and instances- at times the methodology is evasive and that of avoidance and at times it is about deploying modern technology and pushing for a calibrated co-existence with its usual trade-offs!

When ambiguity visits us at an individual level, the stakes are often much higher for they leave us fortified or scarred for life or at least for a longer duration of our seemingly shorter life! The reason why this happens is that, in the rush of the life that we have embraced and lead, we often get that moment of isolation (the fabled “me” time) which is the foundation needed for effectively engaging and dealing with ambiguity! In the endless hurry of wanting to deal and deliver with everything that comes our way- we end up using the same yard-stick for every unique event that comes our way! To begin with rarely do we even bother to think, if we even need to respond to what is knocking at our door! You see, for making that choice to act/react or ignore one needs enough space and time (proportional) to what the ambiguity seems like to begin with! Act in a hurry, chances are you will end up complicating further a seemingly simple scout knot, decide not to act and chances are you may allow a simple problem amplify with time to assume a monster like proportion, causing you to lead a war which could have been completely avoidable! So what’s the way around this?

The foremost step, for effectively dealing with ambiguity/chaos is to take a step back and hover above and over what seems to be arriving at you! A bird’s eye-view- should Is ay an Eagle’s Eye-view is what is needed when dealing with pressing uncertain issues cropping up and racing at you! Whether it’s about you, an organization that you lead or a society that you are a guardian for- as long as you are able to rise and hover above what seems to be coming your way- chances are you will be able to take decisive steps and actions to quell and tame the seemingly ambiguous situation and make it more meaningful and actionable and ensure that a repeat of those same instances are avoided going further! Once this has been done, the next steps all boil down to the contextual realities and the least damaging option that one has at hand!

A lot unwarranted sweat and blood gets lost while dealing with ambiguity also because we tend to act/ react on an emotional note rather then applying the power of a discerning mind! There’s nothing right or wrong about this- because the story of human lives and societies has always been about the follies and failures of emotional overreach when what was required was a simple rational approach based on “I think” rather then “I feel”!

I leave you with these thoughts for now, giving you that intentional moment to reflect and plan on what you think your next approach will be like to engage and deal with ambiguity that either has already on your hand or perhaps just around the corner! Last but not the least, no ambiguity or chaos is bad as long as you learn to tame it! It’s not about what comes your way, it’s always how you deal with what’s coming you way! The human brain has infinite tricks tucked within to make monsters appear when there are none and also provide a false sense of security even as the ground beneath is sinking! About that- some other time! Until then, stay safe, stay sane and yes, “Practise the Pause” before you hit the button on your device to embrace or ignore what’s staring at you!

Ciao for now! Will be back soon with another piece- Some facet about The Human Brain seems an interesting aspect to write next about!

Lost in Transit!

2022 has been what it seems to be! Exhilarating, Stagnant, Challenging, Uncertain, Ambiguous and certainly much more then all of this, perhaps even something else to many of us! As I keep saying, Truth may be absolute, but realities of life are always contextual! Join me here (after a long hiatus!) to decipher this space were individuals and organizations alike seem to loose their way even as they dwell on the perception of being in control and are racing full speed ahead to reach a place- the only challenge being, the vectors to the direction are all over the place! What unfolds from these journeys, needless to say is a space of further dis-ease and chaos which only continues to fuel people ,societies and nations into the never ending downward spiral of misplaced priorities and lost battles (which are nothing more but grave miscalculations based on perceptions, more then anything else!) So here we go!

Sure enough the last few years, through the global slow down owing to the pandemic, upheavals in political priorities and social realignments the world over, pockets of fluidity have crept up all over the world with varying intensities making those areas that much sensitive or should I say Insensitive to what is really that matters and what is being perceived as important! This in turn has ended up creating the apt context wherein it is much more easier for individuals and societies as a whole to loose their way and end up arriving at a point in the future which they had never planned to be or opted-in for! This is the real essence of getting “Lost in Transit” and this is (whether you agree or think differently) what resides beneath every failed or failing decision that we act upon either as individuals or collectively as societies in general. At a societal level, at times inaction is gravely detrimental and more unforgiving then action with errors! But why do we land up this way, what really is happening here and what is that we can do about it, is there anything really that can be done?

No one, absolutely no one (irrespective of access to opulence) would choose a complex way of life where every moment seems to be a test of survival! Each one of us, all of us each day, begin with a healthy spoonful of hope and direction but by the time the day has gone by, we at times find the day was controlling and directing us more, even as we then thought we are the ones’ who were in control! Let me break this down for you! Let’s take this scenario which is so familiar and simple, you decide to be on time, reach the office, deliver that assignment (which you have already re-read a dozen times) and win that appreciation and put a check on your to-do-list for the day! Now the chances are either it plays out exactly as you scripted it should in your eager and anxious mind (even as you have a ton of confidence) or the chances are that among all the other elements that are passive to this event- the people, the place and the technology- either one or few or all of them could fail and sabotage the whole thing! It is not about your intention or effort going amiss, it is about the readiness of the context around to embrace and implement what you script!

If this could cause so much of angst for a simple office presentation for an individual, imagine the chaos and ambiguity that multiple events and varying scenarios can beget collectively for societies and nations and it is these compounding set of endless individual events that shape the large macrocosm of a society which eventually end up short serving the wider collective- which could be an establishment providing livelihood to a few thousand, a society of a few million or even a nation of a billion people! This lack of synergy between the ability to provide/ act and assimilation of it within the relevant spaces of a society is what derails and throws off track the whole direction and soon enough misplaced priorities begin to over ride and whatever little sanity is remaining for a meaningful voice shouting out right directions is silenced in the ever increasing noise and chaos of ambiguity all around! So how do we go abut this?

Answers to complex issues are never easy, and when it comes to ensuring that what is relevant overrides all that isn’t , the resistance to change and progress (which is inbuilt within individuals and societies) does all that it can to derail and lead astray even the most noblest of intentions! Perhaps one way of looking at this is, simply devise a plan or strategy to act to the contexts around and build answers to what the wider challenge seems to be (whether or not that is relevant and then seed in the real solution within it and deploy!) A kind of Trojan approach where the recipients get to witness the arriving solution as what they want/desire it to be and as they are drowned in the excitement that they have been victorious, allow the real intent to play it’s part and complete what it is meant to- even before the excitement of victory is settled, the job would be done and the society or the collective cohort would have been left with no choice but to align as they only had welcomed what came their way with all pomp and gaiety! Seems unfair, but in a world that is ready to tear down every shred of fairness, nothing gets more equal then this approach! Sure enough, this is what is used all the time by governments and businesses all the time, offering lip service of discounts, amnesties, rebates and then hiking taxation so what you got is eventually taken away!

On a more smaller scale- the space of personal and individual interactions, it becomes far more easier to avoid being lost in transit- for you have control to stay or move away as soon as you notice things are not aligned to what they should be and begin to assume forms for which you never signed in! To gauge this though, moment to moment awareness and alertness is absolutely required. Often people are too drowned into an emotional twilight zone where the only hue is different and varying shades of ambiguity and grey! Constant ignorance and disregard to what doesn’t fit so well by filtering everything through the lens of emotions, is more often then not what leads to individuals being missing the real direction, journey and eventually the destination and end up arriving at places and with people that they never signed up for! Whether its is about your personal space or the work area- this inability to think and discern on a rational and pragmatic scale often leads people short changing their approach and eventually the story of their lives often begins with, “I could have, should have…but!”

Sure enough, there is no standard operating life-manual for each one of us is wired differently inside out, but guess that’s what makes the world a wonderful place to be in, it’s only when these amazing wonderful and intelligent beings wire with each other in less meaningful and dumber ways that regression overtakes progress and we end up creating a future that no one signed up for! This is the real story of being Lost in Transit! To avoid, stay authentic and know when to move away from what doesn’t seem to be what it is meant to be or says it is!

I leave you with these thoughts to ponder over, as you arrive at your much earned weekend! Ciao for now and will be back soon with another piece and yes, let’s stay wired in the right earnest to empower and uplift all those whom we can as much as we can and as many times as we can!

Bye!