The story of the Blue and Red Pill


The Pandemic has been with us now for more than one and a half years. A virulent new strain, the Delta variant, is the new weapon unleashed by the wily COVID 19 virus to negate all that the vaccines have been doing. Conspiracy theories abound. We look on helplessly through a tunnel with no apparent light visible at the other end yet.

The West and its much vaunted ideal of human freedom is on the backfoot. As US retreats, Afghanistan has once again proved to be the graveyard of Empires- earlier the British, then the USSR and now Pax Americana. The swiftness of the Taliban takeover has been shocking as they begin the task of taking the country back into the medieval ages.

More than 600 people inside a C 17 aircraft fleeing Kabul on the Indian Independence Day 15th Aug. 2021

Almost two decades back, US President Bush had declared, “Engendering democracy across the Middle East ‘must be a focus of American policy’ for decades to come”. Today democracy is sputtering like a flame about to go out, with the failure of the much-vaunted Arab Spring and the Middle East in a far worse situation than previously.

We are into an irreversible global warming era, possibly the most serious climate crisis faced by Mankind. July 2021 was the hottest month ever recorded on the planet. An extreme heat wave in Canada at a searing high of 49.6 deg. C. was a one-thousand-year weather event. Floods ripped through geographically distant countries like Germany and China. Drought stalked others. It is now being widely claimed in scientific circles that the Arctic would soon be devoid of ice with the resultant rise of sea water levels and low-lying areas going under.

The above are glimpses of a frightening and dystopian future we are headed into.

Now here is the other story.

In the last month alone, one billion people have been vaccinated against COVID 19. By the end of this year more than half the people on the planet would have received the vaccine. Truly a stupendous achievement in terms of swiftness of response and effectiveness.

The COVID-19 crisis has led to a veritable explosion of scientific progress in the tinkering of genetic information flow and the formulation of proteins, the ultimate nano machines. Trials are currently being done for protein-based vaccines for diseases ranging from Cancer to HIV.

As we speak, electricity generation from the clean sources of solar, wind, hydro and nuclear has outstripped that from ‘dirty’ coal.  Closer home in India, the wind and solar generating capacity has exceeded the milestone of 100GW output. In more and more countries, low carbon economy valuations are rising rapidly. The reason is economic. The average cost of power generation from clean sources is now half that from fossil fuels.

As investors spot a rising opportunity, more money is getting committed to climate investment funds in a day than used to be raised in years a short time back. Three weeks ago, two global asset managers, TPG and Brookfield, closed a combined $12.4 billion in climate investment funds.

Reforestation and conservation funding is taking place in countries as disparate as Indonesia and Bolivia who are supporting equatorial rain forests to United states and Canada who are focusing on wetlands, grasslands and coastal areas and the regeneration of flora and fauna therein.

These are but a few stories of a Utopian future we seem to be headed into.

So which future, whether the Dystopian or the Utopian, would come true?

As Morpheus says to Neo in the Matrix:

 “……This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill—the story ends, you…. believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill……. and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember: all I’m offering is the truth. Nothing more….”

Is our future really like the story of the blue and red pills and the need for us to make a choice of the path?

Or could it be that there is no choice after all? The two futures, dystopian and utopian, would always exist together, like the two sides of a coin. It would all come down to our world view and the context lens we choose to use. If our context was one of dystopia, we would see signals of collapse in every situation we look at. Similarly, if we were to deploy our utopian context, we would notice the signals of renewal and hope all around.

Our story, the shared and evolving narrative that it is, would always contain both dystopia and utopia, both collapse and renewal. It would depend on us which context lens we choose to deploy, which future we would wish to live into.

“What we do makes a difference, and we have to decide what kind of a difference we want to make.” Jane Goodall, English Primatologist & Anthropologist

Acknowledgement: The above piece is inspired by ‘Collapse, Renewal and Rope of History’ written by Angus Hervey, Future Crunch Journal, Aug. 24th 2021

In Learning

Shakti Ghosal

The 3 Laws of Performance


I had recently spoken about the 3 Laws of performance on the E- Bookery platform.

Are you willing to rewrite the future of your organization and Life? Watch this 30 minutes video to get a blueprint for achieving performance breakthroughs.

How can you shift from being disengaged to being proactive, from being resigned to become inspired, from being frustrated to becoming innovative?

http://www.empathinko.in

#shaktighosal #leadershipdevelopment #leadershipandperformance #performancelaws #leadershipcoaching #leadershiptraining #mentoring

The Tyranny of Merit : A Reflection


I am sharing here a somewhat longish video on Youtube.

Loved the extremely thought provoking and insightful conversation between Prof. Michael Sandel, author of ‘Tyranny of Merit’ and Yuval Noah Harari, author of best seller ‘Sapiens’.

The conversation covers the following aspects:

  • What is behind the recent phenomena of the spread of authoritarian popularism and the rise of authoritarian hyper-nationalists?
  • What has led to the increasing divide between Winners and Losers and the rising socio-economic inequality over the last four decades of Globalisation?
  • The increasing support for Meritocracy has a dark side. The strain between the hubris amongst Winners versus the resentment amongst those left behind. Unfortunately, the created Inequality of Income and Wealth has in fact led to a much serious issue of inequality of Honour and Esteem. What could be a way forward to decouple this strain?
  • The study of History has been such that we can very accurately explain WHAT happened but not WHY that something happened.
  • The urgent need to reconceive and reimagine the mission of social democratic politics of today.
  • The increasing obsolescence of the classical Nation State model due to the easy movement of Capital, Technology and Labour across the globe. What could be done to prevent the collapse of Nationalism in its true sense?

My Sensemaking:

If one were to accept the core premise of the conversation, it would imply that Meritocracy, which dictates that a few succeed and the balance fail, is not compatible with democracy which is about majority decision making.

A more worrying aspect seems to be loss of political space by left of center parties who have been espousing the cause of the masses but have supported the meritocracy structure in their socio-economic decisions.

In Learning………….

Shakti Ghosal

My Crucible moment and self-reflection


I was in a meeting with my new Chairman. I was passionately elucidating my future plans for the business.

The Chairman looked at me, made a sign of smallness with his fingers and said, “Your businesses generate too small a revenue!”. The stress was on the smallness, the inconsequence of all that I and my businesses were doing.

Stumbling out of the meeting, I was in a daze. To be told by your boss that all your efforts and dreams, all that you stood for, did not matter in the larger scheme of things, was devastating.

As I look back at that crucible moment, I can see how it changed the trajectory of my life thereon.

For days afterward, I was pummeled down by negative thoughts and low self-esteem. I swung between anxiety, anger and bitterness. 

The way it occurred to me, there were all these guys, less qualified and with less competence, who were being acknowledged because they seemed to be ‘at the right place at the right time.’

I felt small. I hadn’t done anything wrong to deserve what I had heard. From that one conversation, I seemed to have lost a significant part of myself, opening up hitherto un-noticed doors to self-doubt and self-flagellation.

But then a thought came to me, ‘Had I done enough right?’

I unburdened myself by speaking about the incident and my thoughts to my wife and a couple of trusted workplace colleagues. I felt less like an idiot when I shared what I learned from screwing up. This helped me to move beyond the dark side of my self-doubt and low self-esteem.

The incident supported me to work on that crucible moment question, “Had I done enough right?” It taught me the practice of Self Reflection. It is this that opened up for me new possibilities and opportunities of growth.

In his Wall Street Journal and Publishers Weekly bestseller, ‘The Blueprint: 6 Practical Steps to Lift Your Leadership to New Heights’, author Doug Conant speaks of his own journey of self-reflection and discovery that revolutionized his leadership and transformed his career trajectory.

Doug condenses his remarkable leadership story into six practical steps.

  • Reach High – Envision
  • Dig Deep – Reflect
  • Lay the Groundwork – Study
  • Design – Plan
  • Build – Practice
  • Reinforce – Improve 

In today’s world of uncertainty and disruption which can leave us stuck and overwhelmed, the above six steps have the potential to lift our leadership and performance to heights that would bring us career success, joy and fulfillment.

In Learning……….

Shakti Ghosal

http://www.empathinko.in

#shaktighosal #leadershipdevelopment #performancecoaching

Musings on a Father’s Day….


My Dad and me

Yesterday, my daughters arranged for an all-Italian supper of pasta and Pizza with garlic bread for their Baba. As I was washing down all that great food with a glass of coke I felt so blessed.

In my younger days, we neither had the awareness nor the luxury of such DAYS to acknowledge our loved ones. The only days I recall celebrating were Birthdays and the occasional special anniversary (the tenth, the twenty fifth etc.). Those were simpler times……

Times change. The bond, the love, that heavenly security in one’s father’s arms remain. This is how the feelings, the thoughts, the conviction to take one’s rightful place on the world stage flow down from one generation to the next.

My father Late Debabrata Ghosal gave wings to my creative imagination since childhood. He inculcated the ‘can do’ mindset in me. Decades after he has left my side, I continue to sense his guiding compass when confronted by life’s situations.

Though I too held my daughters in the same manner that Bapi held me decades earlier, have I been able to pass on the right values and mindset onto them? I suppose only time will remain a witness to that ……

Riya and me

Piya and me

In Learning………..

http://www.shaktighosal.com

Sustainability and Globalisation


Dr. Viraj P. Thacker, the best-selling author of ‘The Myth of prosperity: Globalisation and the South’, has remained passionate about continuing his Late Mother’s work of a lifetime in the areas of Women & Children, the Environment, Sustainability & Social Justice. This has also led him to set up ‘Manushi for sustainable development’ of which he is the international executive director.

I am sharing a collage of the events associated with the above initiative as well as a thought-provoking article on Globalisation that he has published recently.

Environment, sustainability and Climate Change are areas I remain passionate about. My next book might just be in this area…..

#shaktighosal#sustainability#environment#climatechange#globalisation

A Profound way of articulating the tragedies of life


Blogger Archana speaks of my profound way of articulating the tragedies of life.

I believe this articulation comes from seeing it as ‘Life Is’. The way we see situations as good or bad, tragedies or otherwise is really our perspective based on the experience lens we use to look at and make sense of them.

The full blog may be read here.

https://www.booknerds.in/features/ghosal-s-profound-way-of-articulating-the-tragedies-of-life-is-highly-commendable-.html?fbclid=IwAR0JLBdkRlaBg7SuYPb16Mm1_lOIq89xwbHOutcEeiQixih7-h-tQ8vy1CM

Available worldwide on Amazon, Flipkart and select bookstores.

www.shaktighosal.com

#chroniclerofthehooghly#shaktighosal#encourageauthorshakti#bookofthemonth#bookcommunity #bookaholic #bibliophile #shelfie #bookshelf #readers  #bookoftheday #ilovereading #bookblog #bookgeek #bookalicious #readingforfun #ilovebooks #bookstagramfeature #booklife #bookaddiction #beautifulbooks #unitedbookstagram #bookishfeatures #bookgeek

Is Digital Leadership a skill or a mindset?


Moolya Foundation is a global non-profit organisation with an aim to bring greater inclusivity in public affairs through digital leadership.

The mission of Moolya Foundation is to expand the conversation surrounding public affairs and empower every citizen in the digital age where marginalisation of the common people is fast growing.

To abridge the socio-economic, political and information inequalities in digital societies, Moolya Foundation envisions creating future leaders in public affairs who shall be at the forefront to represent the interest of the common people.

Do see this first part of my freewheeling session with Neha Gour of Moolya Foundation in which we discuss ‘Is Digital Leadership a Skill or a Mindset?’ As happens at such times, The Chronicler of the Hooghly also gets discussed!

Fault Lines


Admitted to the hospital with  severe injuries from a gas explosion, Anjan keeps meeting Savio, a friend from his childhood. In the interactions, Savio holds up the moral mirror for Anjan to come face to face with the private demons from his past.

The explosion unearths a long lost letter which explodes his relationship with his wife Jaya.

“From Jaya’s diary: What do you say when all that which gave meaning to your life lie broken and anguished in the space-time continuum which was once your own?”

Fault Lines is part of my forthcoming book, ‘The Chronicler of the Hooghly and other stories’. Should you wish to receive exclusive previews and the chance of winning a free copy of the book, do write to me @ author.esgee@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/author.shaktighosal

The Three Horizons- How to pattern the future


The Three Horizon methodology was developed by Bill Sharpe to provide a simple framework to envision the future and how to engage in constructive conversations about how to achieve that future, This becomes all the more critical in an environment which is uncertain and complex.

The three Horizons framework, to me, is a powerful reboot tool which we need to keep in our toolbox for an environment that we are currently into.. It allows us to coordinate disruptive innovations and create transformative change which has the best chance to succeed.

As per the methodology, envisioning the future always needs to deal with three horizons at play, which are always there, with the capacity to impact the future.

Y Axis is the dominant thinking or WorldView.

The first horizon ‘H1’ is all about how business is done at present, but there is something in it which is not fit for the future. It thus contains the seed of its own demise over a period of time.

The third horizon ‘H3’ is the future we desire and there do exist green shoots of that today. We would like them to grow and become the predominant way of doing business in future, replacing and improving upon H1.

The second horizon ‘H2’ is the most interesting space as this is where disruptive innovation takes place. Disruption can take many forms. It could be technology fueled like the Electric car, it could be event fueled like the current COVID19 pandemic or it could socially fueled like Occupy. Disruptions usually lead to innovations, new ways of Doing or Being. The opportunity of change actually exists in the space between the crests of H1 and H3.

The key question would be, “How would the disruptive innovation effect the transformation between H1 and H3?” To answer this, we will take the example of the current predominant transportation technology using the  Internal Combustion engine. This is a H1 model which has survived over a century with its negative impact of Carbon footprint and Climate Change.

Now let us look at the disruptive innovation of Hybrid Technology. This technology actually is the creation of the old world H1 horizon. The problems of H1 are somewhat reduced in this innovation but remain; they in fact get accentuated by addition of another layer of technology on top of the existing one with suboptimal utilisation of either of them. This is called the “H2-” innovation as it is captured by old dominant structures to extend the life of H1 horizon. Why we are using the word ‘capture’ here is because its innovative energy is not being used to help the H3 horizon to emerge.

In contrast now let us consider the same disruptive innovation technology but now paired with the H3 horizon, to support the emerging future to emerge and help to hasten the decline of H1. It would be the pure Electric car technology of Tesla, which essentially is a transformative exercise of building some kind of a computer on wheels; it is envisaging the future ground up. This is called “H2+”.

For the 3 Horizons Reboot tool to be effective, we need to do an enquiry based on three questions:

  1. What is being born and how could we support it emerge and succeed?
  2. What is dying and how can we help it to let go?
  3. What is being disrupted and how can we harness it as in H2+, not be captured as in H2- ?

Enquiry questions for conversation about how to achieve the future:

H1 Horizon :

What is business as usual, the key characteristics of the prevailing system?

How did we get here, what values, cultures, regulations, events led to this?

Why do we believe it is failing its purpose and no longer a good fit? How fast do we want to see its decline?

Is there anything about the old system that we would wish to retain rather than lose?

H3 Horizon:

What is the future that we would like to bring about, its key characteristics, how it looks like, feels like to be there?

What are the green shoots of that future visible in the present?

Whose ideas and work are the present possibilities built on? What history, values, culture are they embedded upon?

How can the possibilities be scaled and spread?

What are the competing visions of the future being pursued by others? Can we collaborate with them or are these essentially competing visions? If the latter, how do we prevent their vision from derailing ours?

H2 Horizon:

What is being disruptive in terms of technology, social, economic, ecological and cultural aspects? What are the roots of those disruptions? For each of those identified, what would it look like if captured as in H1-? Or harnessed as in H2+? What could be strategically done to ensure it is harnessed?

If you are a disruptive actor viz, Tech. Innovator, social movement etc. what kind of guidance can you set for yourself to ensure that your disruption is harnessed under H3 ( H2+) rather than captured under H1 )H1-)? What allies will you seek, what actions will you take, how will you assess potential offers of collaboration or finance?

In Learning…..

Shakti Ghosal

Acknowledgements :

  1. Three Horizons : A Pathways practice for Transformation by Bill Sharpe, Anthony Hodgeson et al , Ecology and Society, June 2016. https://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol21/iss2/art47/
  2. Three Horizons : Partnering of Hope by Bill Sharpe, Sept.2013