Thursday, April 21, 2016

How happy are you?

Newspapers, WhatsApp Groups, FB Newsfeed had all been flashing Anant Ambani last week. The third generation of India's richest family had turned heads around as he lost a whopping 70 kgs in 18 months! While we sit and wonder how the kids of the richest families in India have everything in their life and nothing to worry on, little did we know that he was putting in efforts in terms of - walking 21 kms each day, doing yoga, weight training, functional training and high-intensity cardio exercises to reach his goal; not to forget along with his zero-sugar, low-carb diet. He worked hard for the choice he made of being healthier because he had an option! And boy, the whole nation congratulated him (even if in terms of trolls) when he trended on twitter for this.

This brings me to what I really want to convey in this post - Being Happy.  We all work towards being happy in life. Like how getting into a premiere B School made me very happy, because that meant I could plan and lead my life the way I wanted to, which I then believed would make me happy. Was my formula correct? Is that all I needed? Yes and No. As Will Smith's character, Chris, clearly points out in his masterpiece, we are always chasing it and hence it's called "The PURSUIT of Happiness." Chris places emphasis on "pursuit." Jefferson, when he penned the Declaration of Independence, did not promise Americans happiness, but only the right to pursue it. Chris says, at one point in the movie, paraphrase, "I am happy right now. It is a fleeting moment." We experience happiness in eyeblinks. The rest of the time we, like Chris, are chasing it." That's what a good opportunity gives you. The right to pursue it and not happiness itself. If you are paying taxes (post March effect!), you are very lucky to be among the top 3% of Indians who are paying it right now. It makes you very lucky to be at this position, and it started right from the time you were born to your parents, who provided for your education and raised you to pursue opportunities which brought you where you are at this moment. 

What I mean is that a domino’s pizza delivery guy might be better than me in inherent skills, like a better IQ/EQ but he didn't have the opportunities I came across just because I was born at the right place and time to my parents. That's what Prof. Deepak Malhotra in his famous Tragedy and Genius speech (or Quit Early, Quit Often Speech as I like to call it) brings on to the table:
 (At least, the 1st 15 minutes are worth the listen for the topic)

In short, he conveys that it really is a tragedy if even after being given all the opportunities you are not Happy, because tragedy is the difference (delta) between how happy you could be (Circumstances) and how happy you are (Choices), that's how you quantify it. If you don't have many opportunities, the circumstances were not right and the how-happy-you-could-be itself has lower bars and that's a real situation. However, if the Circumstances bar is high enough and you are still not happy, it is mainly the choices you have to blame because sitting in your comfortable home, without worrying about your basic needs, educated enough to be among the top 3% of people around you who pay taxes, you just can't blame the circumstances. It has to be the Choices. That's what Anant Ambani made and worked on in last 18 months! Prof. Malhotra, termed that as opposite of Tragedy, called Genius - not the essential of something but essence of.

I have interacted with many MBAs around me for both professional and personal purposes. I found many of them to be complaining about their work. Trolls being exchanged in WhatsApp groups about how a person finishes his engineering, does his IT job, gets into MBA and after that he realizes he doesn't like even his post MBA job eitther. I could relate to it, we all can because after all we are pursuing happiness. One of the most profound indication of that would be to waste 71.4% of our lives (Weekdays) just waiting for the Weekends to get away from work. That would be hardly the pursuing I am talking about here. However, once you understand the missing gap and where exactly you are going wrong, you can definitely reduce the delta which takes you towards being the happy genius.

The opportunities which you have around should be leveraged upon to make the right choices and to convert the tragedy to genius. That's when he talks about (@10:20 in video) cultivating the habit of 'quitting' - quit early, quit often - something usually associated with a negative reference. And that's where you leverage your opportunities (like your MBA, in the example i take) to quit, experiment and get early to a field where you are actually adding value as an MBA or whatever field you are into. Spending years to justify, why you are doing it makes no sense as the Prof. says. We don't have a ready reference script in our hands as Will Smith had but we need to have that strength to pursue what really makes sense of our abilities and skills, if not what we really want to do. And that I believe is the perfect recipe of being the genius, pursuing happiness and reducing the delta, the way you want it to, in your own customizable way.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Simple Rules - Complex Blabberings

A disclaimer first. I am making an assumption. It says that there is a creator and not just some random chemistry and physics involved. So when GOD created universe and started increasing the complexity of the organisms he created, he did apply some basic rules. Atoms follow a certain rule and so do the huge gravitational forces (which our Science teachers made sure we understood well, or at least pretended to in our exams) These were just the basic building blocks. The devil called details then started appearing. Things got more complex. Atoms aligned and the simple microbe we were introduced to in class 5th, developed. From ants, insects of various colors, shapes and sizes it developed to varied species of animals. And that's when an ecosystem called Jungle was created with numerous species in it. And then there were rules. Rule of the Jungle, which caused the jungle to survive. Survive, it had to in order to evolve more and bring in more complex organisms called human being. The most complex of the creations which evolved into what we call it us and that's when science started to make more sense as Darwin spoke. The rules changed but they didn't disappear. They existed. They do so even now, even if we may ignore them. They exist in our basic biology. And I am not talking about the rules created during the development of societies or the one in which you might find yourself living it. But the basic rules which helped the Jungle evolve and which will eventually enable us evolve as well.

Fight or Flight

So when in our real world around , we see people talking about choosing your battles wisely, it's the same fight and flight rule they are talking about. Wherever you are, or whatever situation it might be, things narrow down to pretty basic things - you either fight it or flight from it. What I mean is that we might be living in a corporate and society jungle now but the basic rules remain. It creates all the difference, coz' you never want to waste your time in fighting for something not worth it and you never want to flight when it's time to really give it a fight. 

I am not among the wise ones to know and understand these rules completely. No one is. However, we do are (at some point atleast) fortunate enough to understand and acknowledge the existence of basic rules which are shaping us and the ecosystem around. Saves a lot of time (to pen down posts like these?!) Akin to the force of gravity which is making Earth orbit the Sun. These rules have been misused when the Pigs from George Orwell's Animal Farm, start making the rules of their own like in a typical case of a socialist society. I am not talking about those. I am just restating that getting back to the basic helps to understand the rules of the jungle and navigate even in the present day. The analogy might totally surprise you, if you observe it on a day to day basis in your own life!

That was just too much of Gyan (unnecessary knowledge session) for a weekday