Archive | January 2015

Decision Making – Thoughtful and Fearless

Life’s a lot about making decisions. From what to wear, to where to live, to what to do, we are constantly deciding. At different times, in different situations, we have different factors that determine our decisions. While some decisions are based on logic and reason, some others are based on emotion and responsibility and the like. There are some decisions though, that are based on fear more than anything else. Fear of consequences. Decisions made in fear may not often appeal to the rest of our mind, body and heart because fear has no reason. Fear is a reason-less reason. And there’s a dialogue in a famous Hindi movie that goes something like this – ‘the one who is afraid, shall perish.’

A man once wanted to quit his job and try a business venture of his own. He thought through and spoke to his family. His family was scared about the risks involved. They asked him to stick to the job that gave him a guaranteed fat salary every month. Their fear rubbed on to him (fear sometimes is like a perfume – not exactly a good one albeit – it passes on from the person who has it to the others around too). He gave up his well thought through dream and continued with a job that he didn’t enjoy as much. Now, after years, he still owns his parents’ fear to such an extent that he wouldn’t try his venture even if he has a chance.

Another lady knew how to drive well. But she often heard discouraging comments from her family who mentioned that if something happens, it would be an expensive affair. This unsolicited borrowed fear has been sitting with her ever since and even if there’s an emergency; she prefers to walk, run or take someone’s help rather than get into the car and help herself.

Fear is self-limiting; not self-liberating. Then how can decisions made out of fear have a different effect? Talented people with great skills and wonderful thoughts prevent themselves from writing, with the fear of ‘what if people don’t like what I write’. Fantastic singers refuse to sing in front of others fearing, ‘what if I make a fool of myself’. An educated woman holds herself back from trying for a job after a long gap due to family reasons fearing, ‘what if I don’t have it in me anymore’. Well, these are just fears, not reality. The more we believe in our fears, the greater is the chance that we make them our reality. With every fear, probability theory says that there are 50% chances of things going in your favour too. Follow it up with hard work and confidence, and there you have it! You can convert the 50% to 90% and 100% even. All the ones who succeeded never focused on fear. It wasn’t that they didn’t have fear. It was just that they made a choice to focus on their strengths and confidence than fear.

What’s the worst that can happen if you don’t wear your lucky dress or your lucky ring on your big day? The real substance is within you and it has always been so. It never was in the materials outside of you. If you are doing everything right, and if you feel you are still not getting what you want, may be it is good to explore the beliefs that you hold for yourself. Are they supporting you? Or is there fear? For a person who is fearless, he/she takes everything in their stride and finds valuable learning in all that happens. They march forward with the new learning. They know that they will attain success.  They don’t talk about fear; they don’t live in the fear that their fears shouldn’t come true. Fears come true, only if you believe in them!  You have the potential to make them come true. Just like positive thoughts. So, if you are anyways going to imagine, why not imagine in your favour? When WTC towers collapsed, fear did not prevent the government from re-constructing them. And that’s why we have them again. If you are willing to rise after every fall, your decisions will always stand tall. What would you do if you weren’t afraid? If you have a brilliant thought or desire and a counter-productive fear, stick to the desire rather than drop with the fear.

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Or we have And

How often have we found ourselves stressed because we had to choose between one or the other? Those cross roads where we had to choose only one road that might take us some place….

I used to sweat on this – those difficult choices and their consequences. I always thought it had to be this OR that, black OR white, me OR them, right OR wrong. And true enough, I added quite a bit of stress to my life thanks to constant crossroads and choices. Until one day when a dear friend spoke to me about the ‘And Strategy’. It was like a breath of fresh air. It’s like making the best of both worlds. I tried this and it has been a fulfilling experience, to say the least. I realized I was, until then operating with ‘Or Strategy’.

I often felt stressed for having to choose between two things that I loved equally – like learning to dance versus learning to paint. Suddenly, I applied ‘And Strategy’ – I decided to learn both. I can’t tell you how wonderful it is. Yes, time does not permit me to attend classes for both. So, I learn piano in a professional environment while I learn to paint at home through YouTube videos. It is delightful to be able to do both the things that I love. I did not have to let go of one thing to do the other!

There was another decision about working in a corporate versus being a trainer. I just could not choose. They both were important. I decided to do both! They have been wonderfully coexisting for a while now. Love it! I can’t imagine how big a decision it would have been if I had to choose one.

When my opinions were different from others….

In a different angle, I used to think that if someone is right; someone else has to be wrong. It has to be true or false, right or wrong!  I then realized that it may be appropriate with facts but not with people and their perception. I can be right and you can be right too!  And someone else can be right too. They are just different perspectives that can certainly coexist. For black to be black, there’s a definite contribution from white!

What’s my right could be someone else’s left. And what’s left can take you to some place right too.

There’s just one life. Wherever possible, I first check if “And” strategy would be possible. If I can make it work, nothing like it. It has worked in more places than I ever imagined it could. The few places where it was not be feasible I went for the “Or” strategy gracefully.

It’s not that ‘And’ is better than ‘Or’ or vice versa. Both have their own merits depending on situations. What is important is that there are certain times when we sweat trying to make a choice between this or that when both could be possible. Life is not all about difficult choices. It is sometimes about having the gumption to understand that there are more roads that lead to Rome than we know and that we could use a road and sea and air in parts to reach Rome.

An attitude of coexistence:

‘Or Strategy’ is good. At times, ‘And’ is better. It doesn’t always have to be this or that. Coexistence is the name of the game…and “And” is the word that represents our coexistence. There’s a joy when we can co-exist’, when certain dreams can co-exist. People who have this attitude of coexistence (‘and strategy’ as a way of life) will have the attitude of inclusiveness. Their default thinking will be ‘how can I do both?’ and that only expands their true potential and helps them discover that they had all the resources already within to be able to do both.

Once, Goddess Kali appeared before Tenaliraman and asked him to choose between a bowl of milk and curd. Kali told him that the bowl containing milk represented knowledge, and the bowl containing curd represented money. After thinking carefully, he asked the Goddess how a choice was possible when he did not know the taste of either the milk or the curd. So Goddess Kali extended both the bowls to Tenaliraman, who instantly grabbed the bowls and drank the curd and the milk. Goddess Kali was annoyed at being outwitted. She asked him why he drank out of both the bowls. Raman replied that knowledge without wealth was useless and wealth without knowledge was dangerous. The Goddess was pleased with Tenaliraman and blessed him with both wealth and knowledge. He was undoubtedly an exemplar in adopting ‘And’ Strategy.

Say, when the journey AND the destination can be good, why just choose one of them?

Now, if you are thinking between ‘And Strategy’ and ‘Or Strategy’ which one to adhere in life…It could be both – depending upon unique scenarios.

Kindness – It is Intent over Acquaintance!

Every stranger could be a friend in the making and we never know when who comes to our rescue when we need help the most. Goodness always begets goodness they say.

For the last couple of months, I had an issue with my electricity bills. Although I was making the payments on time, it wasn’t reflecting in my account. When I was looking at all the receipts, I suddenly noticed that I had been entering a wrong account number all these months and hence, it wasn’t reflecting. In my mails too, I was mentioning the same incorrect account number and hence they confirmed receipt of payment. But in the apartment, the engineer who takes the meter reading saw that there was no payment for my account. When I realized my mistake, I was nervous. I wondered if they’ll ask me to pay all the amounts again because it was my fault.

Hesitantly, I went to their office. The chief Engineer looked at the bills and noticed the different account number. He was extremely polite in saying that the error was because I was making payments to the wrong ID and I should take care of that in the future. He asked another officer to have the funds transferred to my account without any qualms. What I thought may be a complex issue, he resolved in a few minutes. I profusely thanked both the officers and came out beaming. I was so impressed with their kindness and solution oriented behavior. I learnt a lot that day.

Firstly, I learnt that there are better ways to deal with a mistake than asking the person why they made a mistake. Here, I was feeling guilty but they made me feel better and helped me rectify it.

Secondly, I realized that people usually intend to do their best. Being polite and kind to every person around me and greeting them with a smile is a way of respecting their goodness within.

Recently, when my father was hospitalized, there was a ward boy and a nurse who became our most trusted and dependable friends. They were there for us round the clock. One other stranger who stuck around like a ‘friend in need’ is a cab driver. He would make a detour of an hour to drop either me or my mother at home each night from the hospital. He didn’t have to do that. He could’ve well said it isn’t convenient. But when I asked him, he said, “When someone is in need that’s when we should to be there for them the most. That is the true purpose of human existence”. I was blown away by his simple yet profound answer. These new friends gave me new realizations with the way they served a complete stranger – and no expectations whatsoever. They took care of us as if we were their own. They greeted us with a smile every day, even with the umpteen requests we had, and served us with such care. It has been a humbling experience to meet so many wonderful people from different walks of life who serve so selflessly and don’t expect anything in return. Thank you, for, I saw you as a stranger, but you helped me as a friend. You believe that, “To help, I don’t need to know the person. All I know is that they need help and I can extend that.” How magnificent is that!