Driving discipline

Which of the following driving disciplines do you follow, or see being followed?  Add 1 point for every check. (Points are for traffic that drives on the left of the road, else switch right with left)

  1. Traffic on your right always has Right-of-way – in lanes, at a round-about, or at an intersection
  2. At an intersection the one who reaches it first, gets right-of-way to cross it
  3. Always overtake from the right
  4. Don’t overtake a vehicle which is overtaking another vehicle itself, or if there is oncoming traffic
  5. Distance from the vehicle in front of you should be enough to let you see its rear wheels touching the road
  6. When going down an incline, shift down to the same gear you would use when climbing it
  7. Instead of applying the brakes, try shifting to a lower gear and letting the engine do the braking (release the clutch)
  8. Don’t ever switch off the engine to free-roll down an incline
  9. Don’t drive with the clutch pressed halfway while cruising
  10. Maintain your position in you lane and switch lanes carefully watching other traffic
  11. You must not move to your right if a vehicle is overtaking you
  12. Thumb rule for shifting gears – shift gears according to speed should be 16Xgear kms/hr, i.e. upto 16 kms/hr move up from the 1st gear, upto 32 kms/hr imove up from 2nd gear, upto 48 kms/hr move up from 4rd gear, upto 64 kms/hr move up from 4th gear, and upto 80 kms/hr move up from 5th gear (if there is one)
  13. When facing oncoming traffic at night, never look at their headlights, instead keep your eyes to the left verge of the road you are on
  14. Try driving with foresight of what others are going to do/doing on the road, and take proactive measures so they don’t need to change their path

These are lessons gathered over years and generations… If you’d like to add some points, please leave a comment.

If you got a score of:

More than 10Bravo! Way to be…
6-10Great, you must already be a driver blessed by others on the road
3-5Hmm, you must definitely try more of these to get a better drive
Below 3You probably never knew these, but now you do

— O —

Money is Only Worth its Spend

Many years ago I had come across a truism I liked: “The riches of a person are reflected in how they spend their money, while their wealth may be measured by how much they have.”

There are many sayings I’ve heard about ‘the color of money is the same’ regardless of where it comes from, but over the recent years I’ve realized that the ‘quality of money’ can be established too.  I did think of the sources of wealth, some honorable, some dishonorable.  I thought of the names we give to sources of funds, and to heads of expenses.  Nothing seemed to pass all tests until I hit upon a very useful test for the Quality of Money.  The quality of money depends on what it is spent for, what it makes happen, or what causes it funds.

Spend vs Invest

When we speak of spending money in different ways, the question also pops up “Money can also be invested, how is that different from spending money?”.  A simple difference to understand between spending and investing money is to see that money that is spent, is consumed, it doesn’t return in any way except to sustain the status Quo.  In this regard, money is time, and vice versa.  Money invested however, returns manifold, or should return manifold if the investment is accompanied by attention, industry, and doing what it takes to meet the objectives of the investment.  In this way, money that is invested returns bigger, stronger, better over the time that we pay attention, are mindful, and industrious.

The Need and Money

In the bigger picture money gives us time, say by providing sustenance, shelter, and security for another few days/weeks/years, and we make our decisions of how to spend this time.  If we are blessed with fortune and wisdom, we invest this time to return stronger, better, bigger.  Which of our needs do we fulfil first with the money we have, defines a lot about the quality of money we have.

Mapping to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs also gives some great insights into the quality of money that we spend or invest.

Examples of money spent or invested at various levels of Needs

Level of Need Spend Invest
Need for Self actualizationPracticing all what we are able to do, what we truly know.In Self – mind, body, soul
Need for recognition– Fees paid to enter competitions– Self improvement
– Excelling at meeting useful objectives
Need to belong– Socio-Cultural alignment (lifestyle)
– Fees for club membership
– Attending social events
– Build relationships Networking
Security needs– Maintain a house to live in– Educational qualifications
– Monetary savings and investments (stocks, banks)
– Agriculture
Biological needs– Food Shelter from natural elements

We can review the Quality of our Money, and what we are likely to achieve with it, by appropriately mapping our expenses to the needs, and classifying them as spend or investment.  This review of what we are likely to achieve with the time and money that we expend, can give us insights into how we should change, if required, our spending and investing strategies.

It is important to note that Time is a significant factor that affects the quality of money.  At different times, different needs become virtuous. The amounts of spend and investment at the various levels of needs will also change with time for each of us, across different phases of our lives – from child, to adolescent, to adult, with a family, through professional phases, etc.

What is the Quality of Your Money today?

— O —

The Resilience of Good

In these tough times, we see so much struggle around us. Our loved ones are struggling, our friends, our colleagues, many are struggling with what the pandemic is bringing about outside as well as within us. And we are struggling with them.

We get to hear of the shocking, the unforeseen, the unexpected, and the magnitude of the calamity reveals itself in new dimensions every day. The sheer deluge of information is often disturbing and unsettling, raising new and deeper questions as we read about happenings around us.

In this deluge we also hear of people’s response to the struggles they are facing.  So many of those responses build hope in the future of mankind, but we read about many more people who are callous, mismanaged, self-serving, or shortsighted at best, in their behavior.  It is very easy for us to lose sight of the goodness of our fellow humans in this deluge of negativity.  It doesn’t mean however, that the good isn’t there.

Good has always been less seen, less heard of, less spoken of, in the clamor for attention by the common Bad.  It has long been known, and we need to understand too, that Good loses to Bad because it isn’t loud enough, or juicy enough, or because Good doesn’t push itself ahead like Bad does.  This is the truth of this age of Kal-Yug.  It is also the reason why we need to pray for Good to emerge, for Good to be stronger, to be more prevalent, and to win over the world. 

We need to be discerning in the attention we pay, and in the winds of change we blow with every action of ours.  We have the power to cause Good, and to encourage goodness all around us.  Our power lies in our resilience, and how well we recognize, protect, and encourage Good!

May Good be with you 🙏

Meditation?

What could Meditate mean, if seen through the lens of English word families…

Meditate = Med-it-ate

MED = Mindful Effective Design (of the mind)

‘-it’ is a suffix that makes the word before it measurable, or better known (as in qual-it y, productiv-it y, etc.)

‘-ate’ is a suffix that means ‘create’ (as in duplic-ate, triplic-ate, replicate, etc.)

To sum it up, to Meditate implies to…

Create specific, better known, Mindful Effective Design(s)

Cheers!

Talk the walk!

That’s right!  We’ve been used to hearing and reading about it the other way around.  ‘Walk the talk!’ is the constant refrain for leadership.  You should ‘do as you say, practice what you preach’.

I’ve found that while the (almost cliched) saying “Walk the Talk” works fine for those situations where we may benefit from it, there’s the flip saying also which is very effective in growing and spreading a greater understanding.  Most people don’t give a second thought to whether what they are saying is true about themselves.  This may be fine as long as you ascribe the authorship of what you say to someone else, someone greater than yourself, but why do we treat what we say as separate from our own behavior?

You may be very sincerely giving advice to another from the storehouse of quotations you carry in your mind.  In such a scenario you are the medium through which someone (the author’s) else’s learning is finding new ears.  It doesn’t make any difference to how you may be.  Or at least it gives you the liberty of some time before people may expect you to follow what you have said, to demonstrate in action the same wise words.  So let’s consider another approach.  An approach to changing yourself for the better forever.

Let’s say you hold yourself very responsible for saying something that you do not practice.  In such a case, out of a sense of integrity, you would diligently also mention that these words have been said by so and so.  Lets also assume that you don’t want to have to keep remembering what other people have said simply to share them with others, but you use them more to make a difference to who you are.  In such a scenario, one very simple thing to do is to only share what you do, and how you yourself are. 

Choose to only share those aspects or facts that you have already worked upon, and the changes you have already caused with them. Make sure you always have something  new to talk about.  With this approach, it follows that you will first practice differently, analyze the results for yourself, and then talk about the successes, the lessons.  If you are trying out new ways of doing things, of being yourself, you will always have many lessons to talk about.

When you talk from personal experience, and from the rewards that you yourself have reaped, it becomes something far more engaging and valuable.  Such conversations have far reaching depths, and impact that may just be the change that was needed. It’s our integrity with ourselves. It’s living personal integrity as alignment between what we think, believe, say, and do.

— O —

Why does our faith have to be blind?

We hear stories every day of so-called Godmen, Spiritual Masters, Gurus, and Healers taking people for a ride. Why do we blame the Godman? Why do we blame these spiritual scamsters? Why look for the mistakes of one person, and turn a blind eye to the one mistake of thousands, including our own?  Just think about it.

It is WE who give them the opportunity to take us for a ride. Our blind faith is what makes them what they are.  As soon as they realize our stupidity, they can justify the ‘rewards’ they take for their smartness.  Their arrogance and liberties grows by leaps and bounds, knowing that their ‘flock’ will stay stupid because they will keep it so.

Think!

Why does our faith have to be blind? Why can’t we be mindful? Do we not have minds? Do we not have brains? Or are we just cattle, following the herd.  Any faith that calls for blind obeisance is a cult, mind you.

Let’s be mindful of what we invest our faith in. Everyone is not worthy of being respected just because they say something we do not understand.  Just as important it is for the guru to choose the disciple, it is important for the disciple to choose the guru. Even our scriptures advise us to do our own research and be mindful of our own experience before believing anything.

This is not a trivial matter.  It is one ailment with far-reaching consequences for the nation and each one of us, and the generations that follow! 

— O —

I don’t have time for this now!

Whenever people hear of having to know something they don’t know, the common reflexive response is – “I don’t have time to learn this now”. This is almost as if regretting the fact that they missed knowing this earlier, when they may have had the choice to spend time on this. 

We only seem to have time to be more of what we are. Unfortunately so. We don’t ‘have’ the time to be different from what we are. Or at least to be different from what we think we are. We think we are bound to be the way we think we are. Think about it.  And think about where to get the time from, to be different from what we think we are.

I’ve realized that making time begins in the mind, and fructifies in removing waste reducers.  I just believe I have more time than my watch may tell me.  My to-do list is always longer than my day, but never so long that I feel defeated.  I always believe that if I’m doing something I’ve done before, I will take less time doing it again.  That’s where I ‘make’ time.

— O —

What does meaning mean to us?

We humans are a social animal. The structure of our needs has been shown by Maslow’s hierarchy of needs… from Biological up to Security, to Belonging, to Recognition, and finally of Self-Actualization.

Each one of these needs beyond the first two, from Belonging upwards, depends a lot on the meaning we build as our own from our community(ies), the recognition (appreciation) we gather, and the new (personal/original) meaning we are able to convey (add) to our community (the world we understand). What does meaning mean to us?

The book, “The Three Laws of Performance” makes the point so emphatically – “How things occur to us depends on the language we use”. What does this mean? Does language lead to meaning, or is it the other way around? Is its meaning important for us? And therefore to us?

Of course, language is a natural form of communication, and as such there will be varying degrees of ‘language’ used by different people, all of which we need to be accommodated in our understanding. That notwithstanding, does the widespread adoption of a wide vocabulary, clear, consistent, correct, and precise language have a direct correspondence with the growth and evolution of a community?

This is an invitation to a conversation on the meaning of language, and what it means to us, building from what it means to each one of us. You’re invited to be a part of this conversation right hereClick and post your thoughts and read what others are saying as well.

What does meaning mean to us?

What role does the (correctness of) language mean for all of us?

— O —

Trainers Don’t Need To Be Trained!

Do Trainers need training?  Yes of course they need training, but they do not need to be trained.  This is what makes them Trainers at the cutting edge. 

Obviously, if they need to be trained, then they are the learner.  If a trainer believes they have outgrown the learning stage, they are actually doomed as a trainer.  All trainers worth their salt accept that they need to keep learning constantly, just to keep pace with the rapidly learning youngsters who will ask them questions during their training sessions.  The better trainers learn faster than anyone else.  It’s just that simple.

So how do Trainers learn so quickly?  What do Trainers do to learn without being trained?

Trainers are experts at focusing on learning objectives and asking questions, assimilating answers, and practicing without inertia.  This expertise of asking questions is the expertise knowing which questions to ask, how to ask which question, who or what to tap for the answers, and what questions need to be answered first.  This expertise naturally gets them the answers before anyone else, and that is what creates the opportunity for them to be Trainers.

Trainers develop the ability to assess the purpose for every piece of information.  While good learners need to know how to answer all the questions they are presented with, good teachers need to be able to reverse-engineer the questions from looking at all the information (‘answers’) that they perceive.  Trainers have to be able to determine the objective from the response.  And, the best trainers are able to ask new questions, questions they have never been faced with.

— O —

Read, as if your life depends on it…

… for most likely, it does!

One of the most significant changes that people are dealing with is the fact that in the lockdown stages they don’t have people in front of them telling them what they have to do, but rather they need to read instructions (most likely in a chat message or an email) telling them what they what they need to do.

Don’t underestimate the magnitude of this change. This is a sea change for most people. Where people didn’t need to read words spelt out, they didn’t need to understand the written language because they could always depend on the person in front of them explaining to them, could depend on them to infer the particular confusion that they chose to have at that point. From that point they need to actually change to make sense of a few words written in front of them. Many people don’t even realize the handicap they give to themselves by refusing to read.

Over the last few years. I realized that most people who are so-called literates are effectively illiterates. They’re only people who can write somehow. And I say this because most people don’t read. They may have the ability to read. But that doesn’t make them literate. Because they choose not to read, and behave like illiterates. What do you say?

Why do I say this?  Lets take the example of sign-posts.  Or that of emails people receive.  Even signages that point out dangers are glossed over as if they never existed.  They probably don’t exist for the masses.  This phenomenon is even more striking for me because I work in a profession that lays the highest importance on Safety, which in turn means that paying attention to signages is the foremost responsibility of every worker and officer.  Even so, the literacy of people is evinced to the same extent as in the rest of the region of South Asia. Most people depend on being told by someone, rather than having to read anything.

This aversion to reading, even the one or two words of a sign-post, has always remained a mystery to me, when I know the person can read.  It is the ultimate disrespect to the person who wrote it, and also to one’s own intellect and ability, to not use it.  Our life certainly doesn’t seem to depend on it.

Notice that Kerala has had the best response to the pandemic in recent times, and is it a coincidence that it is the state in India with the highest literacy rate?  Thank God at least some of those people (if not many) actually must have read the advisories, the analyses, the way forward, and communicated with many others as civilized thinkers.  Reading and writing polishes thinking.

Ultimately, reading and writing help us develop the discernment that comes from being well-read, and being sorted in our thinking. Our life depends on it…

— O —