When the leader Laughs

Are you someone who laughs with the team or laughs at the team? Think about it before answering because your response defines the kind of leader you are.

It’s easy to laugh at people. Maybe because that’s how we are trained and tuned since our childhood (remember Charlie Chaplin). Try laughing with people. It might be difficult but is more enjoyable and your relation with them will have longevity.

Side Note: When people laugh at you and you join them to change it to laughing with them, it isn’t just a reflection of your sense of humor but it also says that ‘you care.’

Don’t leave me Alone

Sushant Singh Rajput News: Father And Family Reaches Mumbai
Sushanth Singh Rajput has left too many questions unanswered.

It’s not that he’s the first guy that I read about and felt sad for taking such a decision.

It’s not that I haven’t moved on after a couple of hours of grief shared with a couple of close friends over a couple of drinks.

Sushanth’s decision to end his life moved me beyond grief and a hangover. I don’t know if it’s because I could relate to him. His being an outsider, being emotionally connected with his loved ones, being a performer par excellence without much success (as defined by society and its circles or himself) – I am not sure what drove him to his end. I guess, that’s a question that only he had an answer to. I want to believe for my own good health, that it was an unfortunate momentary moment (that a lot of us experience) where he gave in.

This time around, I am not sad or angry but in a state of pity. I pity myself more than anyone else today. It made me question my own decisions – to move up the ladder, to ring in more money, to invest in the next big startup ideas, to build my personal brand equity, to make me more desirable by everyone. None of which would miss me for more than a couple of hours if I am gone.

Grief that will pour in, tagging my social profiles, will be pointless and its because my life is pointless in their lives after a point. Yet, I continue to live for everyone except me and in the process alienating myself from people who loved me for who I am and not for what I can be.

I fear that when time comes, I will be alone with a voice unheard and craving for an audience any audience. Have I built walls so big that I have shut everyone (including myself)? What have I become that it’s no more okay to show I am vulnerable, to show who I truly am? Why is ‘being human’ nothing beyond a brand and as a value restricted to words on your office posters?

Even as I come to terms with the re-discovered reality, I still pity those thousands of Sushanths and Rahuls:
“Some of whom are contemplating to leave the unhappy themselves and some of whom are living with their unhappy themselves.”

Side Note: I kept telling my kids that talking (no matter what the situation) brings you closer to the other person. Never realized the deeper impact I was creating for all of us.

That’s my SocialDistancing

I moved away from Whatsapp, reduced my time on Instagram and Facebook (my job doesn’t allow me to move away completely), and pretty much became non-existent on other social networks and groups.

Some of my friends said, I have taken social distancing to an extreme level. In fact, it’s just the opposite. I realized that being connected (or so we assume) digitally was distancing me from my loved ones. Here goes the story of social distancing.
– Birthday calls (and these were so important to me), that used to last for a couple of mins of fun and chatter, suddenly turned into dropping messages on a WhatsApp group and Facebook accounts (and eventually belated birthday messages).
– Random calls to check in on how my friends and family were doing turned in to random ‘Hi, how have you been?’ messages with the delusion of staying in touch and of caring for their existence.
– The extreme level of social distancing was actually replying to an incoming call with a template message ‘Can’t talk right now. Can I call you later?’

No matter what situation we are in, the world doesn’t need this kind of social distancing.

I will not treat my loved ones this way (even if they have come to terms with the new norm).

Want to know the withdrawal symptoms of this behavior?
– I call
– I meet (not now given the situation)
– Yes, I do message but not template messages
– I respond not like I am obliged to, but like I care

Side Note: There’s definitely merit in all the social networks, but don’t get to a stage where you WhatsApp your loved one (in the next room) for dinner.

Ignored your Calling?

…then what are you cribbing about?

Your current situation is a result of the choices you made and callings you ignored. If there is anyone to be blamed, it has to be ‘YOU.’

Stop blaming others and situations that have forced you to ignore your calling. You still had a choice.

Now that you have made the choice, the best way forward for you is to come to terms with it. Why, you ask?
– So you can be at peace with yourself
– So your friends, family and loved ones around you don’t have to hear your rants
– So you can be better at the option you selected
– and more importantly, you can reflect on your choices and make better choices when you get a chance.

Side Note: Heard this quote somewhere and might be apt to quote it here – “Do your duty and a little more and the future will take care of itself.”

Won’t unlearn This

Covid-19 has done its bit – both good and bad. As I continue to rail through these turbulent days, I realized that it is not all that bad. There is obviously a silver lining to this pandemic and appended below are some of my observations around what Covid-19 has tried to teach us.
This is not an exhaustive list and if you have your own list, please add them in the comments and I will update this post.

Some high level observations:
– Minimalism is possible
– Sustainable living need not be a fad anymore. It can be a reality.
– Nature is a great leveler
– Re-emphasized the fact that materialistic things mean nothing
– If we don’t keep the planet clean,
– Cleanliness as a habit can be formed no matter how old or young you are
– Hinduism (not as a religion) as a way of living is our best chance of survival
– Folded arms greeting is not just safe for now but is here to stay. Wherever possible (including official emails), I open my sentence with ‘Namaste.’ The only reason is to form a habit of it when you meet people in person.

These are more specific to me (so purely personal):
– Whatsapp is 95% garbage (especially more during pandemic times)
– WFH is more effective than stressful
– Kids don’t need gadgets to stay engaged
– If you thought, intoxication is the only way to having a relaxing time, try getting high on meditation.
– Saying ‘Namaste’ was odd but now I take total pride in it.
– Checking-in on at least one of your loved ones and providing assistance to a complete stranger is not a big ask and it is fulfilling.

Side Note: I fervently hope that tomorrow when we weather out this situation, we don’t unlearn what we learnt from these tough times.

Earth does a Detox

Right from my 8 year old son to the world famous Greta to a lot of people like me who live in the illusion of being climate activists have been talking and at times walking the talk of protecting the planet ‘Earth.’ Little do we know that we were being arrogant (and/or foolish to say the least) to think that we humans can protect earth.

Earth can play ‘Thanos’ at its will.”

Clearly, earth wasn’t very amused with our efforts. With not much of an impact, planet earth decided to turn a climate activist itself. If anything Covid-19 was its way of proving that our actions determine our fate not earth’s.

Planet earth is sorted.”

Side Note: For a long time now, we have been selfish enough to not worry about anyone else but us. The change has to happen for the same selfish reasons with survival being the top one.

Do you love You?

How many times do we get asked ‘Do you love me?’

Sometimes it’s our wife, sometimes it’s our girl friend (or a special friend), sometimes it’s our children, and in some rare cases its our parents. As you fight the day to prove you do love them, here’s my question for you – Do you love ‘you?’

It’s a question important enough for you to answer.

To put on a smile on your love’s face, I see you putting on a frown through most part of your day. I know the usual saying, it’s worth it. But really, is it?

Why does it become okay for you to compromise on your dreams, your aspirations, your interests, your vices to create a ‘forced’ future for someone else?

Side Note:
Stop building a purpose for others if you cannot find yours.
If you cannot love yourself enough, you aren’t really loving others.

I’m sorry Honey

Everytime you came to me to complain about how difficult our Moms are being with you.
Everytime you talked to me about how frustrating it was to plan anything with our (difficult) friends.
Everytime you wanted to discuss your challenges of disciplining our chipmunks.
Everytime you made an attempt to discuss your problems with building OneSkin.

I am sorry for trying to solve your problems and not listening to you.

I lost my skill of being a good listener among the multiple journeys I embarked as an entrepreneur, consultant, speaker etc. I forgot the skill that was ingrained in to me (thanks to my early stint at Google) – the skill of saying and living it by every word, “I understand how you feel….”

Little do we realize that when people (friends, colleagues, family, etc) come to talk to us, 9 out of 10 times, they are coming to us, not for advise (surprise, surprise) but to get heard (what is also popularly referred to as ‘to get validation’).

All they want to hear from you is those 3 golden words – “I Hear You.”

I Hear You by Michael S Sorensen

Side Note: I haven’t been very successful in saying ‘I hear you.’ It might sound cliche but the truth is it is difficult (but not impossible). Like any other skill, ‘validation’ needs practice.

Religion over Country?

I don’t know if I am the only one who noticed it this Thursday when India was celebrating its 73rd Independence Day. I hardly got any individual messages or calls wishing me ‘Happy Independence Day.’ I wouldn’t have been harsh on this, if people at least treated 15th August as a festival (because I do get calls, individual messages and Whatsapp messages for Pongal, Diwali, Eid, Christamas and even for Onam).

“Instead, I believe that we treat Independence Day as a holiday – just like a Saturday or a Sunday but wishing it doesn’t come on the weekend.”

I am no historian or a hypocrite secular politician to talk to you about India, it’s history, it’s pride and how we need to act (not be) Indian. But the time ‘to really be’ is now more than ever before and it isn’t difficult. One small step makes all the difference. A step as small as calling your close ones and wishing them ‘Happy Independence Day.’ A step as small as buying sweets from the ‘mithai shop’ for Independence Day like you do for Diwali or Eid or Christmas or did this time around for Raksha Bandhan.

Side Note: The first step to change is to acknowledge the shortcomings. Ignore at your risk.

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