Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Who are You?

It occurred to me that there's a lot you can say about a person and her quality of life based on whether she considers herself the fill in the blanks  of her life wherein the fill in the blanks  could be any of the below 'designations' or perhaps even a combination of one or more of these. Most of these are metaphors from the world of cinema but if it is true that all the world is a stage, it is highly likely that most of these metaphors are relevant and will ring a bell when one thinks about life in general. 

a) CEO or
b) Director or
c) Playwright/Lyricist/Composer or
d) Lead Actor/Artist or
e) Supporting Actor/Singer or
f) Producer or
g) Spectator or 
h) Critic or
i) Mentor/Guide

Let me try and elaborate on what I mean by each of these. These are partly stereotypical but partly my personal interpretations of the 'designation'. It's not about whether these are 'true' or not but this is simply an individual's metaphorical perspective in terms of how each of us approach life - if at all we have a method amidst the madness. The idea is to introspect on how we go about life (what 'designation' we normally seem to adopt) and whether we are overdoing it as a - for example - Playwright or Producer and need to learn to switch to other 'designations' during various situations etc. I am conscious that I am, yet again, tending towards categorization or bucketing but it does help as long as one isn't totally ruled by it and allows it to only aid the initial understanding and, er, awakening. 

A CEO (imagine someone in a commercial/business scenario) is bound to exude confidence, pay a lot of attention to the big picture and is likely to think long-term. She is likely to be dominant and lead everything she engages herself in. She is likely to pursue success, fame, money, achievement but may not spend a lot of time understanding the intricacies and details. She'd rather delegate things and 'make use' of the others to get things done. She is a great decision-maker. She may understand people and human behavior really well but may not necessarily be people oriented or friendly. This person may also be considered the Director of Casting when it comes to dealing with people. Would you enjoy such an approach towards life?

In my perception, there is a thin line of difference between a CEO and a Director (imagine a movie director or a project director) even though they, at first, seem like similar, powerful, positions. A director is perhaps more project focused, more people oriented and skill oriented. He may come across as a creative and sensitive person. He may move on from one thing to another wherein the jumps are quite radical or at least 'unsimilar'. Arguably, a Director may either flow with the changing context and be quite flexible or extremely rigid and insist on having exactly what he started out with. He is independent and knows how to pull various threads of his life together into one frame (pun unintended). So...are you the Director (rather than the CEO) of your life?

A Playwright/Lyricist/Composer's approach to life may be utterly creative, observant, sensitive and focused on a particular situation. She may be the emotional types and very passionate (not unlike a CEO or a Director in terms of passion). She may be more 'theoretical' than practical in her approach and methods. She is also likely to be intellectual and thoughtful rather than action-oriented. She may be idealistic, lost in her own perception of the world and be 'detached' from reality and what's happening around her. If you are a 'Playwright' in life, you may have no doubts recognizing such an approach in yourself. 

A Lead Actor/Artist may be extremely talented/capable but may need to be nurtured and directed in order to exhibit and utilize his talent. He may be popular amongst his friends and family and generally enjoy a luxurious life as long as he has found the right mentor and a good support system. A lead actor may sometimes be capable enough of stepping into a 'Director's' shoes and think/act like her. He is likely to pay a lot of attention to the aesthetics of life and prefer a glamorous and flamboyant approach to it. A lead actor may have delusions of being a super human and being capable of everything in life. So, do you lead your life like a hero?  

A Supporting Actor/Singer as in life may be talented but is not concerned about aspects like dominance and being in the limelight. She may be content with little wins, accomplishments and learnings and be happy to support someone perceived to be 'bigger'. She may be very busy and hungry for work and yet quiet subdued when in public. She may, arguably, be comfortable 'performing' in a niche area rather than getting involved in the bigger picture (pun unintended) or aspects outside of her 'responsibility' or 'interest'.    

Are you the Producer of your life more than anything else? I hope not, because my interpretation of such an approach to life is arguably meaningless except for activities revolving around cash flow. :-) I think such a person knows nothing much about life other than it being a means to make and spend money. Everything the person does is likely to revolve around money (costs, revenues, savings, cash-flow, return on investment, rate of interest, inflation and what not). Such a person is not bound to pay attention to relationships, people, purpose, society etc. He'd only, for example, focus on the financial value of doing something. This may be a harsh analysis but the assumption is that we are talking about people who , largely, have a 'Producer' approach to life. A Producer may indirectly facilitate employment, a dynamic economy and utilization of financial resources but may not contribute much beyond that. 

A Spectator of life is, well, perhaps someone who leads a 'neutral' life. A very strong believer of pre-determined destiny might fall under this category. She is likely to have a stoic approach to life and believe that it presents no particular joy or sorrow. Such a person may be the least materialistic of all, have no goals or desires and may be content 'watching' his own life pass by as if she were simply a witness rather than the one who is responsible - directly or indirectly - for the events of her life. Spectators, may be exceedingly calm and composed under all circumstances and, ironically, may have either atheistic tendencies or be a complete surrenderer to the perceived universal power.

Critics are those with either a largely self-critical approach to life (the self-sabotagers etc) or those critical about life per se and everything around them (Tch tch. Sheesh). He is a spectator but not a happy or neutral spectator. I hope none of us lead our lives like a critic. Personally, I think this could perhaps be the most pathetic approach towards life. He is always complaining, finding fault, criticizing, worrying etc. At the other extreme, he is someone with a lack of confidence, self-doubt, lack of action, a procrastinator & negative thinker, etc. 

Mentor/Guide is a person who believes she is wise and extremely familiar with life. She thinks she is a master of her life and beyond CEOs and Directors. She believes she knows life so well that she is well-equipped to teach others how to live. She is generally found giving unsolicited advice (eeks) and telling people what to do and how to do it. The ultimate nosy-parker. Or perhaps even the spiritual leader.

So, how do you generally approach life? Do you have a dominant tendency or does it happen to be a combination of many attitudes? Are you able to balance your approach according to what the situation demands? Have you learned to appreciate the differences between such approaches and, well, tolerate them? :-) 

I look forward to feedback. Maybe I have hit upon some kinda truth, uh?

Monday, September 27, 2010

It's All in the Game

Google Images
Here's a sweet little anecdote worth sharing and all that. Last week, I was particularly bored and did not feel like doing anything much. So I decided to plop myself in front of my 5-month-old niece and discuss with her, among other things, the world and its apparent purpose. I started off by smiling and then laughing...in order to set the context, one might add. Obviously, as most small babies will, she smiled back at me and then laughed along with me. I lost track of what I set out to do and instead decided to respond to the situation and keep things going. What that means, by the way, is that I continued to laugh till I started to cough. She laughed along with me quite hysterically and then stopped laughing and gave me a puzzled look (when I coughed) as if accusing me of unfairly changing the rules of the game all of a sudden. Well, even small kids might misunderstand you, you know! ;-)

The Power of Faith

"When you come to end of all the light you know and its time to step into the darkness of the unknown. Faith is knowing that one of two things shall happen. Either you will be given something solid to stand on, or you will be taught to fly."-Edward Teller.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Community Remote

What the remote is to a TV set, an internal micro-blogging platform could very well be for an organizational community. It could help each member of the community control the action and activity right from where she happens to be. Consider this:

a. Switching it on: If the community has been quiet for a while, all it takes is a single, short and provocative tweet to start something instantly 

b. Changing the volume: Increase the number of contextual tweets and tweet-conversations to make the community think actively about something and get a bit 'louder' when needed 

Courtesy: MS Office Images
c. Changing hands (Passing the control to someone else): Tweets are the perhaps the most convenient and easiest of ways to pass on the community 'handle' to any member, if he/she happens to be in the middle of the action and has a lot to share 

d. Simultaneous viewing of different channels: Where else but on a micro-blogging platform can one effectively and efficiently take part in multiple conversations (on different topics and with different people) at the same time? 

e. Storing favorite channels: Think #hash-tags. Tweets can easily be hash-tagged for reference by anyone and referred to at any time in the future

Can you think of some more extensions for the metaphor? 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Work-Life Balance

Work-Life balance - for God's sake - is NOT about constantly interrupting your work with "life" (sadly means only non-work activities for many...) or vice versa. On the contrary, it is about focusing on one thing at a time and therefore doing it - whatever you are doing - well. 

So, when I'm at work, I want to minimize personal phone calls, emails and tasks and when I am home, I want to relax and think about personal things rather than attend an official phone call. Sometimes, when I'm enormously excited about an idea or a presentation or a project, I may tend to work on it during the weekend etc but then you can't let creative moments slip by and moreover who said only non-work activities constitute life? Similarly, if there is a personal emergency that needs to be catered to during work (office hours), then so be it. Exceptions are fine as long as they don't gradually get converted into something routine. 

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Hole in the Wall

Emergence. Self-Organizing Learning Systems. Children. Education. Knowledge. Collaboration. Plenty of lessons in there!

Spiritual Animals

Trust me. I love Donkeys. I generally stop on my tracks and watch them if I happen to spot them (which rarely happens in Bangalore). I am of the belief that they are truly innocent, patient and cute. So, when I was reading a book (borrowed from a friend) called Fragrance of Life (on Life and Spirituality by a South Indian spiritual thought leader, Sri Ram) and came across a chapter that positioned Donkeys as spiritual beings because they drip with innocence and are amazingly patient, it resonated with me.    

Google Images

Talking of spiritual animals, don't you think the other extremely spiritual animal is perhaps the Camel? Don't Camels have a permanent smile on their faces? :-) 

Google Images

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

The Curse of the Idiot Box

This strip stabs me harder than you'd think. I seriously wish I could do something to rescue children who have been captured for what seems like forever in the sticky, useless and miserable web called Television. I know generalizations are not good for the world. TV does have its merits (Think Nat Geo, Animal Planet, Discovery, Music, Dance, Sports, Humor etc) but it, unarguably, has caused more harm than good. 

By Bill Watterson - Link

Consider this: Most channels, most of the time, air absolutely meaningless programs, serials, shows and movies. 9 out of 10 times, people watch a meaningless program rather than one that is 'nice', useful or thought-provoking. It distracts us - actually tears us away - from a lot of important and even essential chores. Parents neglect their responsibilities and children in their attempt to catch up with TV. Children neglect (and stay unaware of) the 'real' world, their studies, their friendships and what not because of their fascination for TV. Families fight over the remote constantly. House wives after being fed on a constant diet of horrible and infuriating characters through soaps and serials are subconsciously influenced to assume everyone around them are similar to these characters - or worse, they themselves begin to behave like that. Many research programs have proved beyond doubt that watching TV causes ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder)....and God knows what else. Finally, I personally believe TV is one of the key reasons why most of us today are unable to enjoy 'silence' (apart from nature). An occasional humorous program for the family, a program that helps the children learn something new, a program that brings good music home etc are fine. It's up to us to draw a firm and thick line and keep ourselves from falling into this meaningless audio and video whirlpool.  

Wednesday, September 01, 2010


Love this post by Leo (Zen Habits). Brilliant. Perfect. Peaceful. 

Shortest guide to life:

‘A few strong instincts and a few plain rules suffice us.’~Ralph Waldo Emerson

less TV, more reading - OK. Cool
less shopping, more outdoors - OK. Cool
less clutter, more space - Almost OK...getting there
less rush, more slowness - Almost OK....difficult in a city
less consuming, more creating - Almost OK.....getting there
less junk, more real food - Almost OK.....
less busywork, more impact - Where be me?
less driving, more walking - Lots more to be done!
less noise, more solitude - OK. Cool
less focus on the future, more on the present - Work to be done...but focusing on the future is sometimes good
less work, more play - If work seems like play, is it OK?
less worry, more smiles  -  :-)
breathe - Lots more work to be done! Wonder if I breathe at all.