Where do we go from here?


Wonder if we look, inside our hearts, exactly what
We’d find
Or Maybe we could take a lot of pain away
Yeah
Or maybe we could heal the world today
Yeah
Or maybe, you know, something, I don’t, if you do then

Tell me    
Where do we go from here
Where do we go from here
Where do we go from here

                                                   Chris Rene, American Singer

A few weeks back I had watched the limited coverage of the national convention of the Chinese Communist Party. Rows and rows of party leaders listening and taking notes as a new leader Mr. Xi Jinping took over China’s leadership. With China’s flagging growth, Mr. Jinping is widely expected to provide his vision of the Chinese economic and living standards growth going forward.

The current UPA Government in India seems to be on its last legs and is frantically trying to reverse the ominous dip in GDP growth rates through desperate reform measures. While the jury is still out on the short-term impact of these “big ticket” reforms, it is obvious that no coalition or party can come back to power without a proven record of economic and consumption growth.

This story repeats in country after country in the developing world. Per capita growth, higher standards of living, endless availability of goods and services seems to be the universal mantra. The flickering images on the LCD panels, the endless sitcoms on myriad channels instigate us to go for that I phone 5. Or a fine dining experience. Or hanker for that newly launched car or luxury home. Our ability to consume, to pander to whims and fancies is seen as our success and growth.

But what happens when the two and a half billion folks from China and India come onto the field and want to play ball? What happens when the Chinese and Indians turn around to ask, “Hey you guys in the west, you followed your own American dream for more than a century. Now it’s our turn.”

Thomas Friedman did allude to this in his best seller ‘The World is Flat” but  said it in the context of Globalisation and a world view of a level playing field allowing everyone  an equal opportunity. Methinks however that the far more critical issue is the emerging stress on sustainability. The strain on our planet to continue to produce in pace with the exponentially rising consumption. To put it bluntly, mankind is well on course to strip this planet dry. Do see my earlier post We need a second planet by 2030” in which consequences of mindless growth and consumption have been discussed.

So where do we go from here?

We need a shift in perspective and mindset. The twentieth century dream of conspicuous consumption cannot remain a role model any longer. This needs to be revisited, reviewed, redefined. We need to be able to answer the following.

“What really is personal prosperity, what constitutes our success?”

“Does success necessarily have to come from ownership and self-aggrandizement?”

“Could our hunger for access to better products and services be satiated, not necessarily by owning, but by sharing?”

This of course is easier said than done. We remain conditioned to acquire and own for our psychological security and comfort. This harks back to days of yore when scarcity and competing for scarce resources was the norm. This mindset continues even though access and availability is on a different plane. In our mind, Owning signifies upward mobility and prestige, of having arrived in a brave new world of capitalism. While Sharing is looked down upon as the vestige of a failed experiment called socialism.

Clearly a tectonic shift in perspective is called for. In a different context in “Age of Discontinuity and the Chinese Shi”, I had brought up the aspect of the Shi mindset which eschews the heaviness of resource ownership. Could this be a perspective that may be needed today?

I think of this and wonder who could play a catalysing role. Political leaders? Opinion makers? Media? What could be the trigger for them to buy-in and play such a role?

The good news is that technology and engineering acumen exists to achieve the above shift. Through better public transportation, better residential spaces with higher density, superior services delivery and energy efficiency, better use of public spaces, better reuse of stuff which we tend to throw away etc.The other great opportunity is of more and more “have not” folks gaining access to products and services which till now have been out of their reach.

Could this be the moment when the best tenets of Capitalism and Socialism coalesce and synergise to open up the path to sustainability?

In Learning………                                        Shakti Ghosal

 Acknowledgement: The World is flat A brief history of the twenty-first century: Thomas Friedman, 2005.

When your home leaves you….


What do you say when you leave your home for work and come back to find it gone? What do you say when all that you have lovingly acquired over the years lie broken and anguished in the space-time continuum which was once your home?

***

It was the summer of 2006. My wife and I were hunting for a new home. So when we came across 1C- V2 at Muscat Oasis Residences, it was love at first sight. Built into the curvature of the complex, 1C- V2 was a duplex apartment allowing comfortable living space coupled with great poolside and mountain views. So it came about that as we moved into a spanking new home, 1C-V2 also embraced us, resplendent in its new furnishings and trappings. Come weekends and party time and 1C-V2 would be all welcoming as it waited for the guests, with its lights and shadows.

***

Six years passed. The Togor sapling my wife planted grew into a perennially flowering tree, swaying and peeping into our upper floor bedroom. Our daughters left home for college. The nest became empty. But our bond with 1C-V2 only strengthened. As we returned from work in the evenings, it was always there waiting for us with its serenity and comfort.

***

August 11th 2012. I leave home for work. At 9 am I get a call from neighbour that there had been an explosion at our residential complex. Rushing back, I come to face to face with something resembling a disaster movie set. Fire brigade lights. Crowd of on-lookers. Police and civil defence personnel frantically putting up no entry tapes and signs. Curtains and bedsheets fluttering out of gaping holes where French windows and doors used to be. I hear a distant voice asking me if someone was inside. I look around to see the guy standing next to me. Was something wrong with my hearing? Slowly but deliberately I cross the no-entry signs and move into the restricted zone. Paying no heed to the security guy telling me the building was unsafe, I step into the dark, dusty and glass strewn space which was our home.

***

I sit on a broken suitcase watching the two workmen clearing the debris with shovels.  Sanchita, my wife, frantically sifts through to try and recover some important documents which are missing. We are aware that two of the main columns had been compromised and 1C-V2 might need to be pulled down. With the end walls gone and the apartment open from both sides, a soothing breeze blows through.

“Sorry.”

I remain with my thoughts.

“I am sorry.” That voice wafts in again.

I look around but can scarcely determine the source.

“Who’s this?” I murmur.

“I am 1C-V2 or rather it’s spirit.”

“Do homes have spirits? I thought that was only in fairy tales.” I gasp.

“Yes they do. Who else brings the endless reservoir of  peace and comfort into homes?”

I ponder over this.

“I am here to say I am sorry. I tried my best to save this place for you but failed. You were the first and only family I had. I loved to be with you. Now with all of you gone, I need to leave too…..”

“One last question. Why me, why us?” I ask plaintively.

“The question you may wish to ponder is Why not you?” comes the voice.

I get  up with a start to find that I had dozed off. The breeze had in the meantime died down.

“Madam is this file important to you?” calls out one of the workmen. Sanchita is thrilled to recover some of her important documents.

***

We slowly walk away, my wife and I. I pondering over the last question, Why not me, she clutching her file.. We look back to see the flower laden Togor branch waving in front of the space where our window used to be. I wonder who it is saying sayonara to, our home or us?

***

Post Script: Investigations have concluded that the explosion was due to leakage of piped LPG gas in an apartment adjoining ours. The accident led to the tragic death of one tenant and serious injuries to another.

Success…… Vision or Delusion?


“When your life flashes before your eyes, make sure you’ve got plenty to watch, be it vision or delusion.”

Anonymous

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

 Success is such an empowering word. We think of it and we think of…. Happiness….Self esteem….Superiority…..  facets which enthuse, inspire, pump the adrenalin. Success seems to be   what we live for. What our parents and teachers always exhorted us to do. Scholastically, materialistically, competitively. Success brings forth visions of wealth, power, intelligence and with these the ability to control the outcome of events. All those external trappings. What the world judges us by.

But as I think of success, I also see within it the other paradigm. Of increased self awareness and self development. Of a positive intention and an alignment with a higher purpose. Of that mysterious inner process which ensures personal integrity and a commitment to values. The aspect of success as exemplified by Mahatma Gandhi when he said, “I must first be the change that I want to see in the world.” Success thus gets linked, not to the external world, but to an inner compass, an inside out initiative.

Which brings me to Vision and Delusion, those two aspects of our mind. We are conditioned to see these as the Good and the Bad on the same spectrum. We see great positivity in Vision but perceive delusion as something to be shed. So as vision becomes that which drives, delusion is that which keeps us lazy. Vision has logic and reasoning supporting it while delusion is immersed in randomness. If we go by this perception, we tend to associate Success with vision and not with delusion. But is this association valid?

 My daughter has this linkage to success. She needs to wear an old watch with a jaded pink band whenever she is writing examinations. She remains convinced that wearing this watch has something to do with her succeeding. The thinking is, “I wore this watch. I succeeded. My success is because I wore the watch.” The watch deludes her into self confidence and purpose; its absence leads to nervousness and lack of focus.

A work colleague of mine has this high belief in his own capability.  Every time he jumps into a fresh project, he deludes himself to over-estimate his own contribution and gives no credence to the positive role of other people or circumstances. So while he gets accoladed as an achiever, I notice him getting increasingly delusional from the success. Do I see shades of Hitler and Saddam Hussein who, in their time, were similarly deluded about their own great power and ability to control events?

Coming to my own self, I can see the several beliefs that have contributed to what success I have seen. Beliefs pertaining to people, situations and work. The other day, when a business associate was proposing a new process, I noticed an instinctive resistance building up within me. I heard myself countering that our prevailing processes brought success in the past so why change. Later when I thought about my negative reaction, I wondered if I had got trapped in my own success delusion, refusing to move with change.

The above provide glimpses of how success gets linked to the outside. But what about success that comes from within?

When we look inwards for that inner success, I believe this requires a balance between mental, emotional and spiritual dimensions. Success here gets closely aligned to our core values. It is this alignment which allows a clear vision of the future. Of innovative action and a sense of direction. Mahatma Gandhi had such a vision when he undertook the novel path of non-violence to gain India its independence from its colonial masters. Decades later, this also became the power of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech.

So I come back to the question, “What does success mean to us, a vision or a delusion?”

I believe true success would need to embody both external and inner facets of our existence. Which would mean that both delusion and vision would play a role.  If delusion panders to our emotions, makes us feel optimistic and helps us to aim higher, vision allows us to dream the future and inspires action with imagination and insight. So as our success remains a product of both sides of the Vision- Delusion polarity, the kind of success each one of us achieves depends on the mix of vision and delusion we have created within ourselves.

Could this be the reason for the thin line we often notice between a visionary and a delusionary? Could this have been the reason for the visionary brilliance of Nobel laureate John Nash as he grappled with his schizophrenic delusions, so eloquently portrayed in the film Beautiful Mind?

My Bad is stronger than my Good.


“I’m an accumulation of every single thing I’ve done, good and bad.”

                                           David Millar, Scottish Road racing cyclist champion

 

Morals preach at me, “Love thy neighbour…… Do Good unto others…” I stand brainwashed to believe that Paradise beckons as I align my thoughts and actions to the goodness of my values.

Millennia of Religion and philosophy have depicted human life as that eternal conflict between the Good and Bad. The Goodness of Creation and Harmony ranged against the Badness of Destruction and Chaos. As I look down from the metaphysical level, I recall ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’ amongst the earliest words I learnt as a child. All my fairy tales and comic books dealt with the likes of Krishna vs. Kanksh, Superman vs. Lex Lothar et al. I go through life and see my ‘Bad ‘instincts of jealousy and fear battle against the ‘Good’ strivings of my intentions and fulfillment.

I surf the news channels and notice how much thoroughly ‘Bad’ and negative information is investigated and followed through as compared to ‘Good’ and positive developments. Almost as if we are waiting to imbibe and carry away all the bad impressions and stereotypes. Could it be that we get attracted and these are quicker to form within us?

My colleague wins a lottery and feels elated. The euphoria however scarcely lasts for a couple of days and I can sense that the feel good level quickly returns to what it had been before the lottery win. The same person however gets into a prolonged bout of unhappiness and blame game when he incurs a loss in the stock market, a fraction of what he had won.

I remain witness to how a loving relationship between my friend and his spouse so easily degenerates into a break-up from a single anger-driven destructive action. Several positive overtures and communications fail to heal the rupture.

As I drive on the crowded roads, I become enraged from a single case of rash driving. As I leave the scene fuming, I scarcely notice the multitude of folks who give way and allow me to pass. My emotions can scarcely be quelled, be it by such good behaviour or kindness. The ‘bad’ memory remains vivid and I continue to rant about it on the dinner table, hours later.

As I go through life, do I see a Bad Good asymmetry? A negative bias towards Bad. Be it in the reports in media and in everyday events as above…

I look inwards and sense that I too am more motivated to avoid bad self perceptions than to pursue good ones. I muse and wonder why this is so. Could this be because ‘Bad’ signals that I need to change? And does my ‘Bad’ intuitively push me to adapt and change myself in line with a situation or environment? So does ‘Bad’ condition me to become more flexible and adaptive to an ever-changing world? Is this why my Bad is stronger and thus more relevant than my Good?

What is out of harmony and how do I restore it?


But what is happiness except the simple harmony between a man and the life he leads?

                                                    Albert Camus, French philosopher, early 20th century
 

Harmony. The word itself brings forth visions that soothe and caress. Of wafting melodies. Of the gurgling of a mountain spring. Of the swaying of flowers in the wind. Of a synchronicity of notes and music.

What is my harmony? It is intrinsic to who I am. What I feel, what I think, what I say and what I do. It is a ballet of all these aspects of mine. When I am in harmony, these pieces fit and the alignment between my inner and outer self comes into being.

As I reflect on ‘What is out of harmony and how do I restore it?’ I realise this holds the power to set the ultimate goal for my inner self. As I try to align my inner self with my outer behaviour into a harmonic resonance.

Am I in harmony? I shine the light of this question inwards and seek. Where is the disconnect in the way I feel, think, speak or behave? Yes, at times I do feel out of sorts- frustrated or confused. At other times I feel upset or overwhelmed. I see this happening mostly in my relationships- at work, at home or amongst friends. I see the disharmony between what I feel and think and the way I am conditioned to act and speak. These are clearly not on the same page. I notice that what comes in the way is my ego. That ego which is always putting up a façade and trying to project a different image of “ME- SELF” than what I really am inside.

But my ego has its usefulness. It creates a resistance, sometimes aggressive, sometimes passive, sometimes positive and at other times negative to any perceived attack on my self. And I do find this resistance gives me stability.  Stability about “Who I am”, “Who I want to be.” And at other times “Who I do not want to be.” As I further think of this, I realise that I am also offering some kind of stability to the attacker as he tries to push, pull or grab some aspect of me. The attacker expects and needs my resistance for his attack to work. I seek to be part of the conflict and this makes me feel emotionally powerful. I justify to myself that I need to maintain my ego because otherwise the attacker would see the weak real me.

I time travel into the nineties. Fresh into a new job, I was having an awful time with this guy from the corporate office. I felt powerless in front of his overbearing and bossy attitude. An attitude which made me feel like a scapegoat every time we interacted. Then one day the volcano burst- an outburst from the usual reticent me. And it was too late to pick up the pieces. Years later, I came to realise that the corporate guy had similar qualities to a school teacher in my childhood. This teacher used to bruise my confidence (ego) by always judging and criticising me in a discriminatory manner. My reaction in the workplace came from the perception that my ego faced a similar hurtful situation. I had played the script of offering resistance to my attacker to perfection.

But does my past justify how I need to react in the future? Or is this my excuse to maintain disharmony in my life?

  • What thoughts and beliefs do I engage in that create disharmony in my life?
  • Does disharmony in me cause conflict with others at  work, at home or at play?
  • Do I tend to blame others for my disharmony?
  • What if I let my ego down? What could happen?
  • What if the other guy sees the real me?

As I ask myself these questions, I start gaining clarity. I see them as issues to be dealt with rather than excuses.

I realise that to restore my harmony, I would need to offer no resistance, or as little as possible, to attacks on my ego. This is initially a frightening prospect with my deep rooted fear of getting hurt taking control over me. But I delve deeper…..

When the other person decides to attack me / my ego, he is breaking the harmony of our joint universe.  If I choose to offer no resistance, I move to a place of harmony as I leave my attacker out of harmony in his relationship with our universe. I believe that as he is left alone without any resistance from me to give him stability, nature would restore harmony in him. Without my ego for him to attack, he would have to stop.

I see now that harmony empowers the highest level of Self Management in me. As it supports me to act from a place of integrity; a place where there is no fakeness or self-deception. Harmony allows me to be at peace within my own skin. But I also notice that to achieve harmony, I need to begin with my values. What’s really, really important to me?

Ultimately, to answer the question, “What is out of harmony and how do I restore it?” I need to first answer, “Am I living my values?”

In learning……………..                                                                           Shakti Ghosal

The Oxymoron of our times


From the heart of all matter
Comes the anguished cry
Wake, wake, great Siva,
Our body grows weary
Of its law-fixed path,
Give us new form
Sing our destruction,
That we gain new life…

                                                                                             Rabindranath Tagore

               (Translated from the Bengali original)

The media remains flush with dire tidings. About persisitent US unemployment. About the Euro zone crisis. About faltering growths in the BRIC economies. On screen debates and coffee table discussions waft around how to get back to the old ways of Capitalism fuelled growth.

We remain witness to cycles. The boom and bust. The shortening of product and business cycles. The rapid changes of technology and society. As I muse, I visualise the ebb and flow of human endeavour. Of our  knowledge and  creativity. Of our  follies and emotions. I see the movement, at once intuitive and playful, of the flowing curves and trends. I see economic and social aspirations as energy, unfolding and folding within itself. I see oscillations between  active and dormant states. I start to see Creation and Destruction….

I think of Creative Destruction, a concept by Joseph Schumpeter that has often resonated with me. Schumpeter saw human advance as a “perennial gale of creative destruction”. He likened it to the Darwinian natural selection to secure the “survival of the fittest”. What Schumpeter envisioned was the economy and society constantly regenerating from within by shedding old and failing businesses and social structures as it reallocates resources to newer, more productive ones.

I do see the path that Creative Destruction has taken in times gone by. As steam powered factories and looms closed down to give way to those with electric power. As did the horse drawn carriage give way to the automobile on the roads. And more recently, how the digital revolution squeezed out the traditional photography and music industries.

A machine perennially ON, creating that which is ‘new’ as it destroys what is ‘old.’ Like Lord Siva’s Rudra Tandava ( Dance of destruction) in Hindu mythology. Like the proverbial phoenix, rising from the ashes of that which no longer serves. And as it rises, it creates new Capital, new Thought, new Man. I see unstoppable movement. To stop would mean stopping change, evolution, progress. To stop would mean the inevitable decline.

But as I muse, I start seeing how Creative Destruction is failing today, just as it succeeded in centuries gone past.

As the old “debris” is destroyed, the ground needs to be cleared for the new to arise in a sweeping upward motion. This of course presupposes that both creation and destruction take place within the same society, winners and losers standing close and people gaining in other ways as they lose in some.

The grandeur of those great American auto towns in Detroit and the tens of thousands who worked in and around have surely gone with the wind, not to return. But as these jobs got destroyed in that area, many other value added and differentiated opportunities did arise, if not within the state, at least within the US itself. So Creative Destruction did work…….but this was last century.

Cut forward to our era of Globalisation and we see the Information and Technology outsourcing leading to near elimination of that industry in many parts of the world. Jobs destroyed in fact get created somewhere half way round the world, never to return. And with this we have been witness to the near destruction of the very communities from which they emanated

Whole countries and regions are becoming long term losers through destruction versus others becoming winners through creation. In this globalised age, the integrity of the oxymoron ‘Creative Destruction’ is being torn apart, way beyond what Schumpeter could have visualised.

And so I come back to the aspect of how the current global crisis looks through the lens of Creative Destruction. Are governments the world over in fact doing all the wrong things through politics? As they bail out top-heavy banks. As they subsidise inefficient businesses. As they prevent natural job losses. By doing these, has the world willy nilly shortchanged creation itself? And sowed the seeds of Capitalism’s own destruction?

In learning…..

Acknowledgement: Prophet of Innovation: Joseph Schumpeter and Creative Destruction    by Thomas K. McCraw, 2007.

Age of Discontinuity and the Chinese Shi


Fluidity and discontinuity are central to the reality in which we live   

                                                                               – Mary Catherine Bateson, 1990.

 The other day, I sat leafing through the yellowing pages of that half a century old Peter Drucker classic, ‘The Age of Discontinuity’. This book never ceases to amaze me at the prescient feeling it can generate even after so many decades. Drucker of course could not have envisioned the internet and today’s information flows but his book does ask the question, “As technology becomes ubiquitous, how would we need to cope?” He also challenged us “to be prepared for the complexities”. Big discontinuities that he saw so many years back……. as yet unresolved.

Since the dawn of history, Mankind has experienced discontinuities brought in by adoption of learnt skills and technology. As the first human learnt how to seed and grow plants, Mankind did a makeover from a wandering lifestyle to that of settlers on land. Then with the successive arrivals of the steam engine and electricity, the agrarian lifestyle started morphing into industrial clusters and an associated urban way of life.

And so has been the cycle. A periodic massive disruption of the way we live, the way we work, the way we trade, all leading to a discontinuity. But always, Mankind returned back to stability. Adjusting back into the equilibrium of a new socio-economic format, till the next bout of discontinuity.

But methinks we now have reached a different arena. A space and time where technologies are no longer stabilizing. If at all, they seem to be changing at a faster and faster pace. One needs to just see what is happening to computing, information and communication to appreciate this.

As I reflect, I am left wondering if we are facing the mother of all discontinuities, a shift to a world without stability. A world in which extreme social and economic disruptions become the norm. Be it the ongoing financial turmoil in the global markets. Be it increasing volatility in commodity prices. Be it companies losing out their leadership positions at an increasing rate. Be it product life cycles becoming shorter and shorter. I wonder if these indeed be the symptoms of a world becoming increasingly unstable.

So how do we, the individuals, cope with such constant discontinuities and loss of stability? Wired as we are to cherish stability and continuity in life, how do we retain our balance and sanity?

I think of the Chinese concept of Shi. Simply put it signifies a propensity based on situation. So whenever there is the propensity to play out to an extreme, there also occurs the tendency to self correct and reverse course. And herein lies the magic of Shi- embodying the spirit of dancing in the moment.

Shi is a belief. It promotes lightness and a dynamic view of our world. In Shi, everything is in a state of becoming. So as we focus on the flows and the lightness of the moment, we lose our obsession with discrete people, objects or situations. Shi allows a holistic appreciation of the complex webs of relationships among people, objects and the broader environment.

In a world fast losing traditional reference points, the future may well belong to those who adopt a Shi mindset. Those who embrace the lightness of relationships and flows rather than the heaviness of resource ownership. I believe it would be these ‘dancers of the moment’ who would lead the world in this era of uncertainty and discontinuity.

Acknowledgements:

1  The Age of Discontinuity: Guidelines to our changing society

by Peter F Drucker,1969.

2.   The Propensity of Things: Toward a History of Efficacy in China

by Francois Julien,1999.

What if……..


If thought is the fabric from which reality is made, then faith and intention become the mechanisms by which we focus and project thought.

                                                                                                              – Anonymous

What if we were spirits, balls of energy?  What if prior to being born, we could choose the Men and Women who would conceive us and help us with our values and beliefs? What if we could meet up with all the other spirits who would also be born to play enabling roles in our future life? What if we could choose our destiny?

What if…..

Grounded back to our reality, we see “What if….” as the yearnings of a meandering soul. Or a delusionary dream that needs to be closeted in the attics of our minds. But what if we did carry a master blueprint containing all our yearnings somewhere in our DNAs? Or what if the dream did have moorings in our wakefulness?

I see two pathways. One arising out of faith and the other from our intention. Which path to follow becomes our choice.

Our faith leads us to the realms of spirituality .We conjecture that situations do not happen randomly nor people come into our lives by chance. As we move through this maze of situations and people, we can choose to see our life journey as a blueprint ordained by a higher purpose. With this choice comes the realisation that the reason we are here is to heal our beliefs, learn from them and not to master and forcibly change them. Such a perspective does allow us to make peace with areas of our life which we find confusing and out of control.

But were we to move on the pathway of intention, we can choose to see our life as something we create and are responsible for. This becomes the essence. As we step out with positive intentions to make a choice, we start understanding the underlying reasons why we fail to do so on many occasions.

I get reminded of that wonderful Arbinger Institute publication, “Leadership and Self Deception: Getting out of the box”. While the book focuses on leadership in the organisational context, its argument applies in our life situation too. The book states that people respond to “how we feel about them” and not because “how we treat them.” Let us halt here and absorb the import of what is being said. “Feeling inside” has far greater impact than “action outside.” The genuineness, or otherwise, of what our true feelings or thoughts are, seeps out irrespective how or what we show on the outside.

We “get into the box” as we allow our lives to be dominated by our insecurities and start projecting our failures on to others to try and protect ourselves from our own reality. This then becomes our strategy of self deception and “keeps us trapped inside the box”, away from the truth of our attitude towards others and its crippling impact on our relationships.

As an example, if you are in an abusive relationship, this could be due to your belief that you are unloved. If you believe you are unlovable, you will attract those ‘into the box” who can help you to demonstrate this belief because you have it, not because it is the truth. Abuse is one way that this belief can be played out.

But intention does allow us to choose to become the observer of our beliefs and changing them once they are no longer working for us. And as we change ourselves inside, what we attract on the outside also changes. And this becomes our pathway to move “out of the box.”

So, do we move on the faith path as we reconcile and make peace with our troubling beliefs and other aspects of life? Or do we follow our intentions as we face failure and turbulence in our efforts to implant new beliefs and a life change?

What if….. we could make this choice?

In Learning………                                                                                                  Shakti Ghosal

Acknowledgement:

* Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box – An Arbinger Institute publication, 2008.

Coming of the Second Wave


So you speak to me of sadness and the coming of the winter,
The fear that is within you now that seems to never end,
and the dreams that have escaped you and the hope that you’ve forgotten,
and you tell me that you need me now and you want to be my friend,
and you wonder where we’re going, where’s the rhyme and where’s the reason?

                                                                   John Denver, Rhymes and Reasons, 1969.

  

Is it not ironic that at times when we stand close to a momentous event, seeing it unfolding in all its HD brilliance, we tend to miss the wood for the trees in terms of its future impact? So it was when the Berlin wall came down; most folks saw it as the factual German reunification rather than the tectonic ideological change about Communism it portended. So it is with the Occupy Wall Street protests, mostly being seen as anger against job losses and lack of economic opportunities rather than something more structural.

As I look around, I see a march of seemingly unrelated trends and events.

  • Declining social and political trust arising out of a growing global inequality and a deepening fiscal crisis. This has lead to a crisis for pension, healthcare schemes etc. dependent on debt burdened states.
  • A heightened perceived insecurity in the developed world. For the first time in generations, people no longer believe their children will grow up to have a better standard of living.
  • More criminality. Be it cyber crimes, drug trafficking or acts of urban terrorism. Symptoms of rising youth unemployment and disenchantment.

During this year’s Davos meet of the World Economic forum, failures of the globalised market economy and an ‘uncertain future’ of Capitalism became the main issues. Ironic when you consider that over the years, Davos has become a byword for Globalisation.

I notice that Capitalism and Globalisation, those two economic pillars of the last few decades, appear to be losing flavour. So, is the world at some kind of an inflexion point?

I believe we have begun grappling with a massive socio-economic change. A change ushered in by programmable machines, networks and the World Wide Web. I had spoken of this in some detail in an earlier post. I say again that technology implementation is resulting in massive shifts at the work place as also how the very concept of work itself needs to be viewed. For the first time in history, technology, without human intervention, is adding economic value and wealth. So those getting in ahead of the game in terms of controlling technology are the new millionaires, displacing the aristocrats and industrialists of the last century. And these millions are being created thick and fast with hardly the need for additional employment generation. Not only is this fuelling a widening wealth gap and disparity, it is leaving more and more of the population behind, unemployed and dispossessed.

Small wonder therefore that a recently published global Wealth Report indicates that most of world’s richest people became richer through the recent economic downturn and into 2011. When in fact the average middle class family actually saw its income fall in real terms. According to Economist Paul Krugman. the current disparity gap in the USis the biggest since the 1920s. Clearly we have entered a landmark period of inequality where the gap is widening to unprecedented levels.

But do you know where the core irony of this whole situation lies? Well it happens to be our much vaunted economic models that not only failed to predict but also to come up with solutions to handle the inequality problem. Worse, if we were to go by economic theory, it is possible to show overall economic growth while significant part of the population is facing a recession or mired in poverty!

So if the predictive reliability of modern economics cannot be relied on, what do we as a society fall back upon? I sense fear as political leaderships all over brace themselves against increased social and political backlash of a growing global inequality. In the Occupy Wall Street protests. In the Arab Spring uprisings. In the resurgence of Marxism in the Indian tribal belts. In the eschewing of the rugged Thatcherism by the British Conservative party as it swing towards leftist policies.

There remain vestiges in our societal psyche of what happened a century back. The chasm between rich and poor opened up by the industrial revolution had been one of the main factors that led to the massive unrest in the first half of the twentieth century. Reaction to this had culminated in adoption of the Communism model in large parts of the world.

I believe we have once again reached that inflexion point where conditions are ripe for the coming of Socialism’s ‘Second Wave.’ I see this as a reaction to the perceived failure of the Capitalistic model and the kind of Globalisation and growth it has spawned. This Second Wave would need to show us ways of re-distributing the wealth created by that part of technology working without human intervention.

Would this be the way Inequality would give us our rhyme and our reason for the future?

In Learning…………..                                                                                        Shakti Ghosal

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………..