Can Real World ever be an Ideal World?

Ideal Life is your Ideal World! Source: http://www.flickr.com/

All of us dream of an ideal world! Can it ever become a reality? Or what we consider as ideal is only a dream, a piece of fiction or imagination? Is it that our definition of ideal world needs to undergo a change?

These are valid and natural questions, which do come in the minds of most people. These are prompted by the fact that quality of our life, in general, has been steadily degenerating; it is incrementally becoming complex by passage of every day.

Look at a single event of 9/11. It has created impact of such magnitude that one wonders whether that we would be ever safe like before. World has been drastically polarized by faiths and politics. Amazing technological advancements have empowered well and ill meaning people alike. Well-meaning people would always have automatic limits for what they do; but ill-meaning people would act with no limits!

Above are global issues. If you have your personal issues like a good career, high expenses compared to earnings, peace of mind or relationship, you would care the least about issues which you see as beyond you. But you have no clue, how those are impacting you silently. One fine morning, you would wake up to face those. May be by then it is too late. So, wishing any issue away is bound to make you worse off!

Many faiths or societies talk of golden era of the past. Even if that was not a myth but a reality, fact is we have steadily gone down from that era. So, something is definitely missing; otherwise why that era, if it was truly golden, should have not sustained?

So, are we at point of no return?

Contradictions seem to be normal way of life!

Look at the following how we live on throes of contradictions:

  1. We strive hard to gain power. When we get it, it goes into our head and poison it, rather than entering into our heart and making us humble!
  2. What we don’t have, we worry about and when we have a lot, then also we worry e.g. money, position or popularity. So, we hardly enjoy what we have!
  3. When we have energy, we lack experience to reap the fruits; but when we have experience, we are low in energy to enjoy the ripe fruits.
  4. We enamor those who can manipulate our emotions; but hardly show interest in ones who stimulate our imagination!
  5. We advocate virtues; but, end up adoring or adopting vices!
  6. What we dislike always dominates our mind; but what we like disappears fast.
  7. What is tasty is seldom healthy and what is healthy is hardly tasty.
  8. What we stress to remember, we surely tend to forget.
  9. We find simple things are hard to do; but hard things easy to do.
  10. When we should keep our head cool, we make it hot. Where we should exercise restraint, we end up reacting or rebelling!

There are innumerable other examples, all of which point to the plain fact that contradictions are normal part of our life.

Need to redefine what is Ideal!

Our life exists because of pluses and minuses. Every plus produces its mirror image – minus and vice versa. Therefore, contradictions that we face are very natural. More we accept this fact, more would we be able to understand and manage.

Contradictions always create physical, mental or spiritual conflicts. Mental conflict here means conflict of our thoughts. If we can minimize such conflicts, real life would improve. So, an ideal life is the one which embodies no or minimum physical and mental conflicts! It is not peace, prosperity or luxury, which makes an ideal life. Of course, love or happiness is the state, which represents no conflicts and therefore, we construe that as ideal! But in practical life, we cannot be all the time in state of love or happiness. What is very well feasible to do is to minimize conflicts.

You don’t need money, power or position to make your real life as ideal, if you show will to do 2 things:

  1. Flow with nature and life!
    Don’t resist, don’t react or don’t question; just flow along the currents of nature and life. Accept what it is! Embrace the realities you face!!
  2. Don’t view 2 opposite aspects of any contradiction at the same time!
    Collision or conflict occurs when 2 opposite things fall together. When you look at each aspect separately by itself, you can understand it well and that would automatically stimulate your ideas and strength to deal with it.

These 2 are very powerful tools having deep meaning. These together work like auto-brake; if you understand and do right, it would automatically put brake on wrong or reckless doings including irrational innovations or advancements!

Moral sum is that if we can live with minimum conflicts, we would individually make our life ideal and together we will make it an ideal world!

Why generalists and not specialists have last laugh!

All-rounder has it all! Source: http://www.flickr.com/

You need a specialized degree to enter; but if you emerge as a truly successful player, you would end up being a generalist! It may sound strange to start with; but that is the stark and practical reality of our life!!

I have come across 14 highly qualified and experienced executives in German, US and Swiss multinational corporations, who were doing extremely well in their areas of specialization, namely product design and development, research, engineering or manufacturing. They came in limelight and top management had accredited them as high potential and future leaders of those organizations. In their career progression, they became business unit heads. But as luck, or whatever you want to call it, would have it, nearly all them failed on one account or another – poor people management, weak marketing strategies, ineffective customer relationships and scant managerial courage. Many of them got demoted or stagnant, rather than getting promoted. Their greatest strength became their greatest weakness!

If you look at any organization, cream of project managers, engineering heads or R&D chiefs seldom graduate to the top management layer. On the other hands, business managers, sales and marketing heads do.

It is nearly certain that unless a specialist turns into generalist, he or she cannot make a successful boss or executive. Take example of Satya Nadella, current CEO of Microsoft Inc. He entered Microsoft as a computer science specialist; but he honed his other competences, which turned out to be overwhelming in decision making process to promote him as CEO! Case of Tim Cook, CEO of Apple Inc. is no different.

So, why should you be then a specialist at the first place?

Specialization is essential but only at entry point!

Specialization should not be treated as an end! It is just one of main means required to reach an end!!

Specialization means one core competency and corresponding knowledge base. Engineering field develops analytical abilities; hardware or software development leads to creativity or innovativeness; marketing gives birth to relation building skill; MBA promotes strategic thinking and so on. Let there be no misconception that MBA by itself make you a generalist! When you are armed with this core competency and knowledge base, it facilitates your entry into an organization. It helps you establish and get entrenched as long as you are at working level. But, beyond that, your focus does need to shift.

Those, who resist shift of focus, end up being specialists or experts. Eventually, experts unwittingly make their expertise as own enemy! This is when, their growth suffers. It is also noteworthy that stronger the expertise, lower is emotional intelligence (EQ)!

There are some, who embraces the change and evolve with exigencies of emerging situation. When you graduate from a working to supervisory level, look at how expectations of your seniors and sub-ordinates alike undergo a complete paradigm shift:

  • One, who used to get guidance, has to now guide and coach.
  • One, who could afford to grumble, should now be humble and address grievances!
  • One, who could offer dissent, has to now accept and manage dissent and disappointments!
  • One, who used to get support, has to now land support to sub-ordinates and make them successful.
  • One, who could create conflicts, has to manage conflicts.
  • It was enough to be savvy by self; but now you have to be inter-personnel savvy and have to risk your own skin.
  • Your absence from work did not matter much; but now being healthy and available to your team and organization all the time matter most.

In short, from supervisor level upwards, you need to be like God – all pervasive and prolific! If you continue your focus on specialization at elevated levels, it would be a fatal failure!! So, experts need to be cautious to take their expertise, through more education or experience, to a level where they run risk of becoming too passionate or obsessive and averse to change.

For quantum growth, you have no option but to be generalist!

An expert is unifocal, whereas a generalist is multifocal! An expert deals with subject; whereas a generalist deals with objects!!

Look at any aspect of life – it revolves around what I call as 4 Cs:

  1. Customers
  2. Company/co-workers
  3. Competitors
  4. Common people

A successful life or career means “developing faculties and becoming competent in at least 3 or ideally all 4 Cs”.

So, your choices are clear –

  • If you want to stay with a single subject, be an expert. You would rise vertically but on a narrow base, making you vulnerable.
  • You can make a mix of subjects and objects. That would turn you mediocre.
  • You can develop object or people oriented competencies and be a generalist.

It is 3rd choice, which gives you widest possibilities to grow and get all round success. But, there is also a 4th one – master a subject and all related objects, you would be Master of your Universe!

Let your knowledge, niche or expertise not become your enemy!

When niche becomes nightmare! Source: http://www.flickr.com/

“I know enough” is enough to pull you down in very area, you believe you know enough! Statistics show that cause of eventual failure of most experts is their expertise!! Is it difficult to believe? But you can’t disbelieve the numbers – my analysis shows it is 8 out of 10!

There are very effective marriage counselors, I have heard about, saving lot of marriages but are unable to save their own! Well known cardiologists eventually suffered from cardiac problems and lost life at an age, it should have not happened. There are legal luminaries and media whistle blowers engaged in eliminating immorality or infidelity in societies across the world; but they ignore what they do in their own backyard! A highly disciplined father would normally be blessed with rebellious children. You are more prone to accidents on the road you have traveled most!

All leadership, moral or spiritual materials exhort you in abundance to be expert or excellent in what you do; then why is that excellence brings you adversity; that expertise elicits extinction? What is it that promotes irony or double standards especially among those, who have acquired prominence, passion or par excellence?

It is like darkness under the lamp!

Everyone needs light and a lamp gives it. But lamp suffers from darkness underneath!However, nature also requires that there be a cause for every effect!!

So, here below is what happens, when you become very knowledgeable, known, expert or highly engaged:

  1. It makes you dedicated.
    But, high dedication leads to addiction to what you do!
  2. It encourages high degree of ownership.
    But, you don’t notice when your ownership becomes excessive. Excessive ownership promotes obsession!
  3. In-depth information on your subject makes you expert.
    But, when you are not conscious, expertise encourages egoism and even arrogance!
  4. More you know, more focused you become!
    But, high focus is invariably fraught with loss of flexibility.
  5. Expertise and excellence can only come, when you converge on areas you operate.
    More you converge on your activities; more close becomes your mind! So, you fail to take cognizance of what and how you do outside of your areas of expertise or knowledge.
  6. You are consumed by your passion.
    What you are highly consumed with, would create contradictions, which you are generally averse to manage! You become indifferent to anything outside of your area!!
  7. When you know it all, it comes very easy.
    But, it also means you start taking things as granted. This is when you would make worse gaffe!
  8. You fly high!
    So, you lose ground and humility!!

How to remove darkness under the lamp!

Our traditional thoughts would find it difficult to do it. So, go untraditional; go offbeat.

If light from the lamp can be reflected back to dark area/s, it would become illuminated!

Experts lose habit to look at reflections, which they receive from others; that is how darkness exists under their nose; their expertise becomes their own enemy!! They are unable to realize when their knowledge – an asset also works as a liability.

So, at no stage of our evolution and progress, we should ever stop or ignore to reflect and contemplate. Reflect on what we do; what others reflect about us and be aware about larger purpose beyond us and ramifications of what we are engaged with. That alone can keep us grounded and ensure that our expertise remains an asset through and through.

Another important fact is that nature demands balancing; neither left nor right! Just be around the center!! It is in this context that balancing between work and life, money and morals, spiritualism and materialism assume paramount importance!

Having said that, would you ever like to allow your knowledge to become your liability; your expertise to become your own enemy?

Why majority fails at finishing lines!

Frustration of failing! Source: http://www.flickr.com/

Higher the stakes, higher are the possibilities of failing to strike! Increase the expectations, increased would be the probabilities of exceptions and errors!!

World Cup 2014 for football is over; but regrets for missed chances of Lionel Messi, one of the top most rated players in the world, to strike against Germany in the final match are not over. Imagine the burden of extremely high expectations not only of his own country Argentina but whole of Latin America Messi was carrying on his shoulders, when the final was kicked off! Look at the hype and high pitch, which are raised for players and their preparations in the preceding stages of any important sport’s event!! But, when the D-day  or D-line comes, dreams of many don’t come through!!!

I have witnessed several projects and initiatives in corporate world, where team manager and members make a great beginning; but bugger it up towards the end. My observation is that errors which are found in any work normally are introduced during last 10 to 20% part of such work! “Finale fatigue syndrome” seems to bug nearly whole world.

So, despite best of intentions and implementation, it is usually difficult for most to cross finishing lines free from faults! However, let us not forget there is always one winner among many losers!

Faults at the finishing lines

Phrase that “Way you start would also be the way you would finish” does not seem to be true at least in present age. Both phases of start and end are crucial to emerge winner.

Here below is what seems to happen to most during finishing stages:

  1. Complacency
    When the end is in sight, we think relaxing a bit is right! We start to take things as granted. Some become over-confident that it is now bound to pass through successfully. This is when most mistakes are committed.
  2. Cold feet
    Many projects, initiatives or competitions are accorded high priority, top importance and are closely monitored. Performers and new faces are generally more under pressure to perform.
    Often, people develop nervousness or cold feet during concluding stage either thinking about consequences of failure or missing the deadline or day-dreaming of rewards from their success.
  3. Hypocrisy from hype
    What is hyped invariably invites hypocrisy!
    There are programs or events, which are highly publicized and hyped by media. It has been seen that such attention and coverage swing minds of participants or performers towards either under confidence or over confidence and even arrogance. This does result in accidental but fatal flaws.
  4. Loss of focus
    When the work is arduous, repetitive, long or high profile, people develop fatigue especially towards final stages and hence lose focus. Their performance deteriorates and is nowhere near how they began.
  5. Lack of awareness
    It has been observed that lot of people don’t appreciate the importance of finishing or concluding well. There are many, who plan execution well but are casual or callous on testing, checking, documentation or finesse in finishing!
  6. An element of quantum theory, strangely though, at work!
    There is one of the elements of quantum theory and its remarkable Copenhagen Interpretation advanced by famous scientist Neil Bohr and 2 others, which states that any process or event gets disturbed from its original state, when it is under observation.
    So, if there are many eyes watching an event or work at the finishing lines (it can also be other stage of event or work; but we are normally more excited about finishing lines), the ability of participants or players would get impacted and results would alter compared to what it would have been, in case it were not be observed or watched by those many minds! This may sound weird; but it is very subtle, solid and sacrosanct!! Nature indeed works that way.

Overcoming stigma of finishing

As mentioned before, there is always one winner among many losers. It is best to emulate what he/she does. A winner obviously does it differently; that is why he/she wins.

  1. Though every stage of work or event is important and should be well thought and planned, put maximum emphasis on finishing. You need to detail out what all you would do during finishing, visualize possible surprises at that stage and your strategy to tackle. Don’t ignore your weaknesses or limitations while at crucial stages and resolve to overcome the same.
    Once you have done planning on finishing, simply focus on same.
  2. Though you should be motivated at all stages of work or play, save your extra energy, euphoria and enthusiasm especially towards end.
  3. Regardless of publicity, prestige or price at stake, it should be life as usual for you! Never flow with the pitch of external sources. Focus on your job to deliver a fault free performance.
  4. Very important to remember is – “work is worth doing, only if you are able to deliver satisfactorily and you can do that only if you conclude or close it right”.
  5. Believe that winning is not an end; but a stepping stone for subsequent wins! Make winning as an obvious and not an option for you!!

So, what do you think? Would above not make you to always finish first, without fault but with flavor?

Burden of being beautiful!

The Beauty! Source: http://www.flickr.com/

Is it not true that “Beauty is bliss”, “Beauty is blast” and “Beauty signifies the good”?

Being beautiful is undoubtedly fascinating and a positive aspect – be it beautiful personality, physique, product, place to visit, phenomena of nature, characteristic or any other body/being! Look at advertisements of any product or service in print or social media; pictures of beautiful models or to a lesser extent handsome men are indispensable for glamorizing and catchy campaigns to a large extent. If a model is more appealing, the advertisement would correspondingly attract more views, likes and higher sale of products. It is unthinkable that a new model of car can be launched without attractive models beautifying it from its sides. Be it cheer leaders say for soccer or cricket or be it front desks of hotels, beautiful looks and physique are prerequisites! If you are upset and calling a service center to register your complain, a beautiful voice coming from other end would soothe your anger!

So, a beauty is alluring and seductive. It attracts attention of most, brings in revenue, popularity and publicity. However, it can also break peace of mind, create controversies and even wreak havoc. History shows that beautiful piece of land or looks culminated into wars in olden time. On the other hands, present times bring worries for beautiful things of different kinds.

So, reality is that being beautiful is a blessing as well as a burden!

Universal effects of a beauty

What is beautiful would always bear following effects, be it a person, place or product:

  1. It attracts too much attention.
  2. It evokes emotions among observers.
  3. It creates illusion in minds of onlookers.
  4. It instigates feeling to get involved or indulge.
  5. It encourages rivalries and/or competitions.
  6. It is pricey; at the same time not easy to maintain.
  7. It loses its freedom and security to an extent.
  8. It becomes gullible.
  9. It gets too exposed to remain free from errors or cracks.
  10. It converts the biggest strength into the biggest weakness.

Beauty and balancing act of nature!

When beauty stands out, it runs the risk of succumbing to nuances of nature. The way it is difficult to sustain the spree of successes, it is also not easy to preserve beauty in its original form. Anything at elevated level requires extra efforts, in absence of which, it would be denigrate to a lower and sustainable level. It is often termed as balancing act of nature; but, truly speaking it is set of our acts only!

Here below is how beauty evolves or devolves:

  1. A beautiful person would tend to become:
    1. Difficult, because of popularity, praises, publicity and premium that person commands
    2. Sensitive or short tempered, because of emerging ego or arrogance
    3. Demanding, since the person becomes passionate for distinction and differentiation
    4. Emotional, since it is difficult for a beauty to be rational
    5. Insecure and vulnerable, because of high image and exposure
    6. Obsessed with beauty of self, which can lead to depression or even recourse to rehabilitation center
  2. A beautiful place is likely to be:
    1. Difficult in access like Fly Geyser, Nevada in USA, Mount Roraima near border of Brazil and Venezuela or many other amazing places
    2. Secluded
    3. Serene, unless it is a water fall
    4. Expensive, until it is commercialized; but then it starts to lose its beauty
    5. Risky
      Beauty of such place would degenerate, if accessibility and affordability increases!
  3. A beautiful product loses its sheen, when it becomes immensely popular like it has happened with iPhone of Apple. Its beauty inspired lot of competitors, main one being Samsung with its Galaxy range. Implications are – premium drops, margin diminishes and whole organization could face unbelievable challenges, like Apple Inc. is facing now. To sustain beautiful products, you have to be truly innovative as well as creative.

Beauty of the message

To be extraordinary requires extraordinary set of contradictions to be managed. So, message that emerges for beautiful things or persons is:

Remain grounded, while flying high in minds of people! Be humble, while harboring high ambitions. Be firm but flexible with the fans. Keep the eyes on; but, hands off. Remain glued to your goals, while being greedy for getting attention.

Very significant is also to make your choice between “skin deep beauty” and “beauty in depth”. Former may not be in your hands but latter is; former can fail but latter always flourishes!

If you follow the above, then a beauty can be less of a burden and more of bliss!