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!

Ethics at Work

Whose responsibility is work?  The worker, or the supervisor who gives the instruction to the worker?  Whose responsibility therefore, is work ethic?

Ethical work definition is a pre-requisite to work ethics, though in some situations you find the work ethical even without ethical work being demanded.  Lets take a closer look at what work ethics are, and what ethical work is

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Work ethics is honesty in working, ensuring integrity of outcome, labor, and time.  Often the only thing associated with work ethics is whether the worker puts in the contracted amount of time to her/his station at work.  But I think it goes much further than that.  I believe work ethics is about ensuring that I do not leave any stone unturned in meeting the intent of my assignment for meeting the requirements of the outcome.  This means to me the selection of the right methods, tools, technique, and then to execute my assignment responsibly in ensuring that my work integrates with the work of others in the team.  It means sincerity and diligence on the worker’s part in understanding the big picture and how they can contribute the most to the team through their individual assignment, and even other contributions they can make.  It means the exhibition of requisite skills by the worker to ensure the most integral outcome in the least time and effort as a whole.

Lets look at the ethical work definition and its outcomes now.  Ethical work definition means the definition of work and work breakdown structures such that they align with the competence and capacity of the team, and which when completed meets the intent of the customer, who can be an internal customer too.  Ethical work is the result of work definition by managers typically, while work ethic is the individual endeavor of each team member.

W.O.R.K. = When Outcomes Result from Knowledge!  This means a great deal.  First, work that does not have any result or outcome is a waste of time.  Second, work is based on knowledge, the knowledge of the doer.  If it is not based on the knowledge of the doer, it is actually someone else’s knowledge, while the job is just being executed be the worker.

What do these thoughts mean to you as a worker?  What do these thoughts tell you as a supervisor or manager?

Which do you now think is more important – work ethics or ethical work?  Or are they both equally important for an ethically operating enterprise? 

This sets the stage for what today’s students are struggling with.  Students who are eagerly gathering degrees, diplomas, and certificates to present to employers who have no clue of what the work involves, except knowing that the kinds of people who have succeeded in growing their enterprise in the past had far fewer qualifications (and much more ethics).  Work ethics for ethical work!

— O —

Make wine, stay happy!

Between friends its always old wine in new bottles, but why is it that in much of life its old whine in new battles? Yes, why old whine in new battles!!

Wine is happiness.  Shared wine is more happiness.

Wine is made with fruit, sugar, water, yeast and time, with a sprinkling of a few other additives, in a very clean and controlled environment so that the ‘must’ (as it is called) does not turn sour. 

The fruit is the result of our toil, our work.  Water is life. Sugar is the appreciation we give to our fruit, and the yeast is the wisdom that gives us our learning from the appreciation over time.  The environment is the context we give to our reflections.  In the wrong or tumultuous context, without the wisdom and appreciation, the wine turns sour, into the whine.

I guess the secret to lasting happiness is to make more wine than whine, to keep making new wine, to appreciate and savor it with friends and loved ones over time.

Cheers! Stay happy!!

— O —

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 —

How exhausting is consumption?

Much of our time is being spent these days in consuming from screens, the small or the bigger ones. First it was the news that we were all consumed with, watching numbers dance up for every part of the world. Then, as we became weary of that and the numbers increasingly numbed us, showed us that they would grow regardless of anything the world did, we started looking for more other content we could consume. We continued being more exhausted with doing nothing but consume.

The other day it occurred to me that it is consumption that we are all engaged in. We’re consuming our environment, which is not changing.  We’re consuming content, entertainment, whatever.  We are consuming, and that too passively.  It is our inability to create that may actually be exhausting us.

We’re feeling exhausted because we’re not creating, not expressing ourselves. We have to create. We have to create whether we write, whether we paint, whether we compose, whether we draw, weather we speak, whether we walk. We have to create our journey, not just consume and be consumed.

— 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 —