Dream Barriers


“All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible.”

                                                                                          T. E. Lawrence, 1922

Have you had this kind of a dream? A dream about a friend sitting near a window at the corner coffee shop and reading a magazine article about YOU. What is he reading? In your dream, you do your best to look over his shoulders to see. But the harder you try and closer you get, the alphabets keep receding away. You never really are able to decipher as you try again and again. Always with no results. Have you woken up from such a dream…… with a sense of loss?

Dreams can be so compelling at times. Compelling and stuck at the same place. As Alice discovers in Through the Looking-Glass when the Red Queen tells her, “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.” So what is the purpose of dreams?  Do we use dreams to compensate for the under-developed parts of our waking life personality, as Carl Jung had theorised? Or are dreams merely a safety valve of our mind seeking clarity on the way forward?

I recall the movie Inception which operated in a three layered “dream within a dream” sequence. And the reason for protagonist Cobb to set up this situation was because he needed to break successive dream barriers to access deeper levels of victim Fischer’s mind and implant a specific thought. Cobb knew that implanting the thought into Fischer’s mind would bring clarity of purpose and the desired action and results. Inception made me reflect further. What prevents an enabling thought from entering the mind under normal circumstances? And why is it necessary to go down into deeper levels of the mind?

Which brings us to the aspect of dream barriers. As we dream with open eyes, we may not “see” these barriers coming up, shaping our thoughts and actions.

Dream:    If only I could get that CEO position.

Barrier:    I am not successful and good enough. I would be exposed.

***

Dream:    If only I could own that lovely villa on the beachside.

Barrier:    I may not be able to afford it. Also I really do not deserve it.

***

Dream:    If only I could handle my investment decisions wisely.

Barrier:    I do not have any skills or resources in that area.

***

Dream:    If only I could set up a successful business.

Barrier:    I don’t believe it is possible so why bother.

***

Dream:    If only I could give up my job and live the life of my dreams.

Barrier:    What will my family and friends think of me?

***

Do we see that most of the barriers are internal, all about me? Do we see that it all boils down to my beliefs? And these beliefs have been developing inside me from the time I was born, lying below the surface. And today, they are at the core of who I am, my thoughts, attitudes and behaviours. So every time, I dream up some desire, my lurker friend, the underlying belief, rears up to push me in the opposite direction, negating my resolve and ensuring my dream does not come true.

I am reminded of a workshop in which the instructor asked, “How many believe that it is possible to follow our dreams?” Most participants said, “Yes.” But when asked, “How many of you believe that you can make your dreams come true?”, only one hand went up. Do we see the gap between possibility and probability? This is the extent to which our beliefs can queer the pitch.

We need to be willing to tackle our limiting beliefs. Remember, it is these beliefs that create our thoughts and then actions. So like in the Inception movie above, could the trick be to delve deeper to examine our beliefs, let them go and in their place, implant positive, enabling thoughts into our ‘dreams’? And, what happens when we start developing a positive belief and thought structure? We improve our self esteem. We reduce our fear of failure. We have more courage to take responsibility of our actions.

So can we become Lawrence’s dreamer willing to act our dream and make it possible? And can we envision our dream with such clarity that we can read what is written about us in that magazine of the future? Are we willing to live our dreams……. and our future?

In Learning………..

Not so elementary, my dear Watson!


“Knowledge comes by eyes always open and working hands; and there is no knowledge that is not power.”

                                                                                                        Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1862

 Awhile back, I had been intrigued to read about IBM’s artificial intelligence (AE) named Watson competing in the Quiz show Jeopardy and beating two of Jeopardy’s record holding champions at their own game! It made me realise the extent to which AE development has been able to close in on to the human mind in terms of sifting through and analysing information to reach a correct decision. IBM’s Watson has clearly graduated from the realm of data crunching to become a possessor of knowledge.

Since the dawn of civilisation, Man has sought knowledge. Knowledge to alleviate hardships, to control the environment, to predict outcomes. Knowledge became a source of power and this manifested itself throughout history. Be it through intrigue, technology or the Brahmin rituals. Through millennia and centuries, such a belief only got reinforced.

As individuals, we develop our knowledge by linking it to other knowledge bases. But our belief in our own knowledge is not for knowledge sake but the power we derive from it. Be it in our personal or professional lives. Our inner fears of loss of power or relevance make us resist any changes in our knowledge structure. Eve though deep down we do realise that like all else, there can be no permanence; change in one aspect can shift the entire knowledge structure and its relevance.

But knowledge to be useful has to move away from being mere information. Especially as we face an exponential overload of information. Raw, disjointed data streaming in from all over. And as we grapple with this information avalanche, we have no time to reflect, analyse and produce usable knowledge.

It was only in the last century that we witnessed a formal acknowledgement of what has come to be known as “knowledge work”. And in 1959, Peter Drucker coined “Knowledge worker” as someone who works primarily with information or one who develops and uses knowledge in the workplace.

So how do I see knowledge trending? As organisations have sailed into this century, business leaders have believed in the mantra of investing in technology and knowledge workers. But they also continue to hold the belief that for goals to be achieved there needs to be a control over the work activity and process flow. But this clashes with the loose and unstructured environment that the knowledge worker seeks.

And then there is the deeper issue of a radically changing workplace. As chip based machines take over structured and repetitive activities, the less skilled workers increasingly take on “knowledge worker-like” qualities. Be it book-keepers, clerks or factory floor workers. In essence, more and more workers are learning to manipulate and use knowledge in a decentralised and flat manner.

The twenty first century workplace demands knowledge through unhindered access to information not only within the organisation but by connecting to diverse, outside sources. But does this not run contrary to our age old belief that to retain power, we need to keep the individual in a silo, fed with only ‘need to know” information and expertise? Clearly a significant perspective shift is warranted in our business leaders to be able to accept a radically different information flow and power structure.

And this I would term as our knowledge quandary.

As workers, we need and demand more and more instant access to information from all over. As individuals, we have less and less time to mull over and process the veritable deluge of information coming at us. As leaders and managers, we like to retain power by restricting information and knowledge flows on a “need to know” basis. As we hold onto these power bases using outdated knowledge. And in the midst of all this, now queering the pitch is Watson and artificial intelligence coming centre stage. Truly a case worthy of Sherlock Holmes and he would have doubtlessly remarked, “Not so elementary, my dear Watson!”

And what do I envision going forward? Do I see the “power of knowledge’ pendulum swinging wildly between the individual and the corporation? As the former uses unfettered knowledge for empowerment? And as the latter fights to retain control through use of Watson to aggrandise and analyse information, convert to knowledge and take decisions? And what if Watson were to evolve and “learn” to the point that he cracks the last human stronghold of intuition and creativity?

In Learning……………..                                                                                  Shakti Ghosal