The problem with “Problem”.

As we race about our lives, each day, each one of us is dealing, solving, creating or fixing a “problem” or at least what seems to be one! Join me here as we unravel with this space and try to understand the humble origins about these problems, why do they even emerge, when, where, the how and the why of it and as we sieve through this space, we conclude by trying to know if there’s anything that we can do about it and if the answer to that question is a “yes” what is that must be done! So here we go!

The very mention of the word problem, brings forth a range of emotions- depending on who you are- what your psychological construct is- either you will race ahead towards it or avoid it as much as you and as often as you can or end up having reactions and responses somewhere between those extremes- something that changes with the nature of the problem and the context of what it is to you! That’s how it is supposed to be and that is how it always will be! The whole story begins post this space! What we do and not do about the problem arrives much later! What we need to first understand and decode is what is it about the problem- how and from where does it all begin and come alive?

Humanity has been a saga of success and failures! Each time success has been more than failure, humanity has progressed and each time humanity has had more failures than success, it has regressed! This perhaps is one of the most fundamental of all the truths of our lives and without any discrimination is applicable universally, sure enough the impact felt will be more or less with the progression and regressions, largely depending upon who you are and where you have landed yourself up in the complex web of life!

Problems are nothing but a situation which arise when not expected and/or in the way they present themselves which compels us to think a way through/around/over it to re-establish the “normalcy” to what we were used to before the “problem” knocked our door! Let me explain! In the current situation around the world, what do you see- as I see and as so many of us witness- the pandemic- now the pandemic has been a “problem” on different levels- health, fatality, disruption of the earlier way of life and more significantly the way it hints at disrupting our future- which by itself is so dynamic and uncertain- for that is what the future is supposed to be! So where is the real “problem” in all of this? Is it the Virus? Is it the space of falling sick and dying? or is it the disruption of our way of life?

If you were to wear the philosopher’s hat, grab that cup of coffee and look with some calm and poise about all that is unfolding around you- you will understand the virus was or never will be the “problem”, it is our “attitude” and “approach” to life while it lurks around us is what is the real problem; for that alone determines the ability, extent and intensity to which our lives can be altered in the Now and in the coming times ahead. You see, the virus can only become a “problem” if you and I were to behave arrogantly, recklessly or with gross disregard especially as it lurks around (and when we know that it lurks around!). For it is only this action of recklessness that can put us in the direct path of self-harm and harm unto others which then becomes the real “problem” and from thereon it just starts off a never ending spiral of one problem to the next. So you see the virus is not the problemit is how you and I behave and what we do and not do that either manifests a problem or keeps away a problem from manifesting! Like with the pandemic so with almost every other area of your our lives! Once you understand how to decipher the right way “what the problem really is” that is when you will be able to manage and control your present to move ahead in a controlled manner to the future that you aspire to realize.

Whether it is the so called problems that you face in your personal space, the work area, with people or with yourselves are often nothing more then ghosts of your own making and the real problems always tend to hide away in this fog of ambiguity and the pursuit to solve something that is not a problem is what majority of humanity is eternally entrapped with even as the real ones’ keep lurking within and around all the time- waiting for the right time to strike and catch us by surprise, at times when we least expect them to arrive! The real essence of dealing with a problem begins by learning the art and science of identifying and defining the problem the right way to begin with! So how does one get to identify a problem the right way? Read on!

It begins with the ability to know about yourself well! Surprised? Well don’t be! The fact remains that, to deal with anything and everything around you and people around you, the very first thing that is of prime importance is your ability to be self-aware- knowing who you are, what your construct is and when you have a fair sense of what and who you are- it becomes easy for your to align yourself to people and life around you- it becomes clear and simple to know what serves you and what doesn’t- this step helps you do away with “problems that seem to be when they aren’t” and what this then helps you get a clear sense of is “the real problems” and once you have developed this ability to identify them well in advance, and on an ongoing basis (like a weather radar onboard an aircraft) you can choose and plan out the only three options that anyone and everyone has when it comes to dealing and managing a problem- go through them, around them or over them!

Problems more often then not, are not what they really are, often they are the amplification of the games that our mind plays upon us and at times are nothing but the ghosts of our own imagination! Problems tend to become real problems only and only when people tend to misjudge, delay to act or resolve or even worse fail to recognize them altogether! The only way to stay ahead in the game of deciphering problems is by building a formidable understanding about yourself and the contexts around which you operate and move about! Like trained soldiers, the human mind becomes a potent weapon when it is allowed to figure out patterns that don’t seem to make sense and to decipher what doesn’t seem to be where it is supposed to be! To have this potency, the first step is to provide the mind with a blue-print of what normal dynamism seems like and it is only when and as this is done on an ongoing basis that the mind will get sharper by the hour and with every passing challenge to identify and figure out the real emerging issues and challenges among the many seeming problems around you!

Self-awareness and contextual alertness provide the much needed depth and sense to differentiate real problems from an apparent problems and this alone can help us to move ahead in a direction that we are ought to! Based on who you are and the context that happen to be the truth of your life, each ones’ definition and ability to deal and engage with real meaningful problems changes and that goes on to change the narrative of success and failure as well! When people spend more time and energy in dealing and engaging with real meaningful problems and are able to overcome them, then magic happens and success is manifested, when people spend more time battling imaginary problems- which are nothing but their minds tricking them in proportion their incompetence-cognitive and behavioral!

If there is any one singular fact that has remained constant with humanity through the ages, it has been the fact that “problems” of today become the “routine” of tomorrow and this goes on! The essence resides in the ability to engage timely, meaningfully with aspects that matter and which must be dealt with (especially when they hint disruption to harm the future). It is the diminishing ability to decipher and engage effectively with real problems which is the real problem! The ocean waves don’t harm the ocean- it is the nature of the waves and the rhythm which has the potential to either provide life or take that away!

I leave you here with these thoughts, urging you to engage and engage well with the real problems that you have on your hand so that you are able to overcome them to create a meaningful and worthwhile tomorrow! Problems are as unique as the person that they meet up with and this is what makes our lives so interesting! All can bake a cake, only a few are able to earn millions through a business, Think about this analogy, the next time you are getting overwhelmed or complacent with a problem at hand! Your problem is the cake that you need to bake, your way to get the flavors of the future that you aspire for!

Ciao for now, will be back soon with another one, until then decode your real problems and create a meaningful tomorrow!

To solve a problem, define the problem!

Guess, the title says it all, never before in our lives (not that it was not important earlier) has it been important than now, to learn the vital art and science of “defining the problem well”! Unless we don’t define the problem well, we will have it visiting us again and again- disguised as something else, even as it remains the same fundamentally! Through this piece we take a quick look at understanding what does it take to define the problem and how that helps us all to live with one less headache to manage! So let’s roll!

A few months back, I had written , why “The Virus is not the problem”, and I am glad I did it, because as days and weeks have passed, this is what has been really true, sure enough no one is denying that the virus is fatal and can kill, but what needs to be foretold and given due emphasis, is the fact that it is not merely the virus by itself which is fatal or has the potency to kill, rather it is the contextual settings around it which alter its fatality and potency- The virus can harm, only if you allow it to harm by being reckless, unhygienic and inconsiderate for the health and safety of yourself and the people around you! Had the fact remained that it was only about the virus- the number of lock downs (partial and total) that the world has seen would have by now completely ended the whole pandemic- but that is not whats happening! The virus has opened up the scientific community to an extent where they seem to be more at logger heads rather than collaborating to find a solution, Immunologists, Virologists and the Physicians all have a story to tell and each one of them is right- the problem is that each one of them is right to the limited extent of their knowledge about their subject and experience and frankly the virus gives a damn to that bit! Allow me to quickly explain!

You see, the virus will be able to infect you, only if the health conditions of your body allow it to do so- which is an area that you alone control! Whether you have been healthy or reckless, it has always been your choice and you have now the only option to follow the guidelines that suit you, based on what you have ended up doing to your health, even before the virus made its appearance! So at one extreme end, if you have had a disciplined life and respected your health alongside your job sans all the non-productive garbage that you normally would end up doing as part of the so-called lifestyle (which in itself is a dis-ease), you would have nothing to worry or at the most, have a limited challenge to face a virus- this or any other, for that matter! On the other hand if you have been reckless and on a never ending party all through your life, high on everything that you are not supposed to be on, well in that spaces, you are the ideal candidate that this virus would like to see you wrapped up in a body bag!

So this way, it is not only about the virus- the story starts much before the virus comes to the scene and that is the only truth with every problem that we face ever! We set ourselves up for problems and challenges even before they arrive by doing or undoing what we do and what we do/ undo further determines whether we will prevail or succumb to the problems as and when they make their gracious appearance!

Let’s leave the virus alone for now and let’s focus on our world of work; right now many companies are in a frenzy to sack people- sacking of the very people- whom they would have hired paying competitive and at time more than competitive wages and incentives- just with one intent- to have the best so that the clients know- that you have the best and the finest and thereby attract business and revenue to your stable! Fair enough, then why sack now? I mean have you ever heard about a Captain of a ship who asks passengers to jump into the ocean or change ships or throws passengers with lifeboats in the middle of ocean because there is a fuel problem and he must reduce the tonnage of the ship?! Or have you heard about the pilot who decided to drop off half the passengers mid-route because he had a change of mind?! Well, you may say, what can the businesses do, if they don’t have the money- well, so see the problem is not you, it is the money! and what makes you responsible for everyone else’s salary? I mean, had you been able to deliver what you required to for a calendar year and justified your costs, then the organisation would have been duty bound to hold on to you- no matter what! No one throws off a Ship Navigator or Flight Engineer off the ship or plane no matter how heavy it is! So this is where it finally comes back to! The real problems start when organisations end up paying whatever they can afford or are asked for (without verifying adequately)- hoping that the returns will come back to them as told by the hotshots, as they speak for themselves, negotiate and argue at the interview; but as that crucial delivery begins to falter and eventually fail, it ends up becoming a loss for the organisation in the normal times and during these crazy times, like we live in now, it is the next closest thing to a complete financial meltdown! Next, it starts a whole new finger pointing game from the HR team to the Business teams and back to HR in a never ending loop asking only one question, “Why the heck did we hire this person!” and more importantly “Who hired this person!”

The whole point of taking these two dissimilar problems was to drive home a point that no matter what the problem is, unless you are able to define it well and set it up correctly contextually, there will be no solution that comes your way and you will end up being visited by the same variants of the problem from time to time! A disciplined and healthy lifestyle even through normal times is a checkmate for any infection/pandemic, likewise prudent and wise decisions while picking up assignments and offering assignments saves a lot of unwanted melodrama to both the employer and the employee as well, because even if one of the entities goes on to promise what they can’t provide – failure will be certain!

So if you, want to keep that drama quotient a little quieter in your life, begin by defining your problem, define it well and see where the buck stops! Check if you have control; lesser the control you have in managing or to prevail over a problem, the more likely you may fail! More control = Less failure. Next, engage in what you can manage- promise what you can deliver- whether it is the next salary you want, the next business deal you want to crack or the next target that you want to set up, be practical and realistic- one simple way to set and plan for things is – your objectives must be just enough to give you the moment of “aha”, joy or achievement, but at no time through the process of achievement or post the achievement should you be exposed to burn out- mental or physical- because that will mean that what you have achieved is merely a fluke and asked to do it all over again you will just wither away by the mere thought of it! So, it is vital that your ambitious pursuits, at all times remain confined within the walls of sanity, because the line between eccentric success and madness leading to doom is a very thin one!

Whether its is a problem that you have been facing because of a job loss, or the impact of a health crisis, the real problem is not these events- as they unfold- but how we set ourselves up, long before these events- in terms of our approach and belief systems about ourselves! To solve problems, you may like to start working on yourself from within through a course correction of your belief systems that serve and do away with those that don’t serve anymore- perhaps correct a few, omit a few etc. This is a dynamic and ongoing exercise and perhaps the only approach which will enable and empower you to analyse the development of events around you even before they tend to manifest into complete problems! Always remember, never confuse unfolding events as the problem! The events around indicate how things are going to form, reorganize and morph in the times ahead- learn for those indicators and prepare yourself to thrive in that new evolving order post the chaos and ambiguity! Just as we are unique, so will be our problems and there will never be a one-size fits-all formula- there never is- hence as you keeping walking ahead in your lives, doing what you choose to do- consider, retaining sense around insanity, learn what you require to, laugh off, what you must and ignore all that you can!

I will leave you here with these thoughts for now; go ahead and grab a coffee and ask yourself , “How good have you been in defining your problems and how much more better can you get at that!”

Ciao for now, will be back soon with another piece! Until then stay wise and stay anchored!

The virus is not the problem.

Many a times, intellectual hallucination and unwarranted cerebral diarrhea leads to aggravating problems rather than solving them and when you try to use the method of applying “collective wisdom” of “empowered group of self proclaimed experts” who have not solved the current problem but something else earlier- we get served what we deserve- More Chaos! This short piece is about understanding how humanity has this unique ability to end up screwing up simple things and create complex problems which tend to become an altogether different problem from the original one! So join me in unraveling stupidity, dumbness and over-rated “specialists” who seem to have answers for all problems that get created while trying to solve the original problem, which remains unresolved!

When the coronavirus problem began, the least I was expecting was a scientific and rational response to meet the challenge and deal with it, but as I look back, what I realized is that more and more people (who are especially in-charge of devising strategies to deal with the situation) have been more dumb and stupid than what their so-called qualifications and experience suggested! Consider this to begin with- The fact that was established way early into this episode of the virus onslaught was that it is contagious and it spreads from people to people when they are in close proximity- within 2 meters of each other- great! so now we know what to avoid- than why the hell do we need to lock down cities, nations and ruin the whole economy of the nations? If there is scientific evidence on how the virus transmission occurs- the common-sense led approach would suggest- have protection, maintain the required distance- whether 2 metres or 20 metres and that’s about- Let the world be what it is! Why do you need to lock down- take way livelihoods- create economic anarchy and destroy a working society? Effective, sustained and persuasive communication in all possible languages and across mediums reinforcing the need of social distancing would have done the needful! Don’t believe me- well , your choice- so can you explain why even after the lock down has been enforced why in few countries the cases keep rising? Well, the answer is simple – Humanity is all about being social and if you ask people not to do something, they will end up doing exactly that- albeit in way that you can’t find out easily! Hence if the messaging would have started with the moral high ground of what one should “Do” rather than “Don’t Do”, things would have been better accepted and hence implementation would have been far more meaningful and so would have the been the results!

Now, if you were to ask the “Coronovirus” what it feels like today, after unleashing mayhem and wrecking the global economy, this is what the Virus would have told you, “You know what, I am simple virus- I hopped onto humans (accidentally or intentionally- you find out!) and found it fun to be here, anyways not many youngsters welcome me that well- so I hardly get noticed- but the oldies do hate me- hence they show their dislike to me by getting sick- and well- that is dangerous for me- because than even I can’t survive- if I they suffer so do I! I never wanted to be within humans any case- I was having fun in the animal kingdom for so many million years! I don’t know how I landed up here! Why is everyone blaming me for economic collapse, I am no banker- I a am a Virus- I may make people sick!,I have nothing to do with economics! You mishandle and misunderstand on how to treat me- how can you blame me for that?! I never asked you to shut down cities and lock everyone in their houses- If people manage their immune system well- by eating well and have personal hygiene- there is nothing that me or any of my cousins can do anything nasty with any of you!

A lot of the problems of the world that we are facing today even as we battle the pandemic is really not about the illness, neither it is about when the vaccine will be available or not, it is far more simpler and I have kept on saying this over and over again! Common-sense deficient decision making is not only ridiculous and foolish it is outright dangerous and fatal! Unfortunately the irony of our times is our so-called experts have all the answers for this pandemic- as if they got killed or survived the last one caused by this virus! The real sane experts on the other hand have been suggesting incremental steps to experiment and deduce in a calibrated manner on- the-go, so that we learn and know what works and what does not in a measured way, rather than creating the global melodrama of the Big bad Lock Down and as if once the Lock Down is lifted we will have the birds singing and spring will be back! This myopic, risk averse and dumb thinking by group of so-called experts has put such a severe strain on all other sections of society that nations will sooner or later feel the shortage of healthcare workers, law enforcement officers and all those who are involved to maintain sanity as fatigue would simple overwhelm them, because they are humans first and no Human being in the entire history of mankind has never won a battle with no definite deadline in sight! If and when societal fatigue sets in, it will rob societies off the very building blocks that define who they are and thereby make each step towards recovery even more harder and difficult, something that will even take time to convince people that everything is safe now! So you may ask me now- If the Virus is not the problem than what is the problem?, and people are dying- so the virus must be real?

Well sure, the virus is real and people are dying for sure- but what is that the people are dying off? Are they really dying only because of the Virus or is the Virus creating biochemical challenges within their bodies which have become fragile because of existing illnesses that is causing the deaths? What are the facts around this? what is the real picture?How many got treatment late? How many were misdiagnose? How many were accidentally killed during experimental treatment? We may know some answers and some we may never know! But this is where the crux of the matter is- Science says that there has to be evidence, predictability, repeatability for things to play out exactly the same way for same set of conditions- well does it work with a virus – the answer is yes and no- yes if the virus is the same and no if the virus – which is a living microbe- mutates! The Influenza virus- cousin of our Coronavirus visits most of us every year- in one form or the other, not all of us die, we struggle and recover- our struggle is proportional to our immune system’s response and wisdom of the healthcare providers! When one of these two factors break down- we have a problem which actually can put us at considerable risk and this is exactly what is being played out in case of the Coronavirus too!

The real problem is the way we are handling the problem- the real problem is “The Problem Definition”. If the Coronavirus has given all the scientific evidence of how that poor little things wants to move from one human to the other, we just need to avoid and break that path- the answer is social distancing- personal hygiene- that’s about it! Personal Hygiene is a private matter-one may say he has brushed his teeth and would not have been doing so for last whole week- you can’t help someone who has a psychopathic mind! Likewise social distancing, like I said earlier it has a lot to do with common-sense- why would you allow a stranger to stand close to you within 2 metres- why? I mean Virus or no Virus- why would you normally also be comfortable with having some stranger sneaking up so close to me, forget about that person coughing, sneezing or even breathing into you face? I mean why? If you say well, that never happens, you manage a high level of personal hygiene, you eat well, you don’t mix with strangers and random people- well than that’s great! so where’s the problem? You just blocked all entry points to the Virus! So what has the Heaven sent lock- down got to do with any of this? Why should you be penalized from taking a walk in the park, walking you dog, picking up your grocery, going for that long drive? Why?

When this pandemic shit is over in a few weeks from now, as the world sits back and thinks about it and as stories will be told to kids who are now under 10-12 year old- they will laugh their hearts out and say it on you face- How come were you grown ups so dumb? Why did you do what you did? Was it really needed? and trust me none of the “so-called” hyper anxious- doomsday centric- “specialist” will have an answer for the virus- well by that time it would have changed itself to be our friendly neighborhood virus which will be kept under check by popping a pill and not Locking ourselves down!

This current pandemic has more to do with the problem of mishandling a crisis and making a bad situation worse more than anything else! t’s a text book example of all that one should not do, during a crisis like this! When problem definitions fail, right questions are not asked and knee jerk- copy-cat solutions are adopted without understanding the contextual realities of life, we set ourselves to a bigger secondary disaster- which at times can outweigh the benefits, making the cure wore than the disease and leaving the original problem unresolved! History is replete with examples when great wars have been won and lost because the challenges were misread or misunderstood, political fortunes and businesses have been created and destroyed all because of incorrect assessment of the gravity of the contextual settings! The problem is not always the “problem”, the problem sometimes is the “way that a problem is perceived and defined” which ends up becoming a bigger disaster than the real challenge at hand! What could have been done, you may want to ask?

Well, simple and straight- social distancing, access to personal hygiene and keeping away risk groups from social arena! That’s about it, three steps implemented well, you have won more than half of the battle! No need for intrusive surveillance, lock downs, travel restrictions and unwarranted narratives! The real challenge with this overly simple solution is that “so called specialists” thrive on making a complex problem even more complicated to earn their brownie points and plain spoken truth gets discounted for unscientific gossip! Until this fixated fashion that “complex problems can only be solved by complex solutions” is not thrown away for good, humanity will keep on suffering from one or the other reason! Simplicity, Plain speak and Common-sense based approaches are the arch enemies of the “so called, know it all, specialists” and that is the real threat, more dangerous than the virus and these threats ensure humanity keeps getting hits by shit in one form or the other from time to time, just to have their inflated hollow egos well oiled!

I leave you with my thoughts here, grab a coffee, take a walk by yourself or walk your dog , eat well, stay fit and rest assured no matter what the “expert” says trust your common sense! Animals have survived with the virus for millions of years and humans have dealt with more nasty visitors coming from mother earth to us than the one we have now with us! So stay calm, and stay wise!

Ciao for now, will be back soon with another piece, until then keep that gray matter ticking and learn it well- Simplicity Works and that’s the way of nature!