Saturday, January 28, 2012

Key to life is the space between the ears

For far too long, I have been thinking about the basic attitude to life. And I am convinced that life is a series of steps that is full of challenges every step of the way. Many of these challenges are a combination of circumstances, people's reaction to your behaviour (note, not response), pressure, stress, and just the journey of life itself. I am almost convinced that the supreme power above is out to test the limits of an individual in how much he/she can handle.

At times, there are experiences in life that are not a fault of the individual concerned. He/she may mean the best for others, however, the intention can be totally misread, misunderstood. This tends to result in labelling the individual into the 'not-so-good-person-to-be-with' category. And as much as the individual tries to disprove others that he did not mean any harm to them, the chances of that happening in this day and age are rather remote.

I have even seen cases where the same statement uttered by two individuals are interpreted differently i.e. the 'not-so-preferred' individual is cast in a negative light, whereas the 'preferred' folks, with the same point of view are looked at, positively. The 'not-so-preferred' individual can lose hope, confidence and a general sense of being positive, as a result of these experiences. After all, what crime did he/she do, except that his/her points of view were never accepted (especially when his/her intent behind the statement/action was the SAME as that of the 'preferred' folks).

Many of these things border on the social fabric of society. The so-called privileged few tend to forget their roots pretty easily (not all, though). They tend to forget their past struggles and in some cases, don't think twice in dismissing people who challenge them on their way. For them, their success, name & fame tend to override anything else in their lives. This, to the exclusion of everything else, such as, past friendships, past relationships et al.

There are other types of people too - the imposing variety i.e. their supreme belief that only they know everything on this planet and nobody else does. And if such people end up being in your close circuit, it hurts, quite badly at that. They sometimes tend to do it pretty softly too, when infact, they are giving you the knockout punch. Those are the ones that you really need to be careful about. What is worse is, that such people speak so smoothly, that it is rather tough to differentiate between their nice words and their malicious intent to destroy you. These could be friends, bosses, colleagues, clients, family or just about anyone; especially from the least expected quarters or the ones you have traditionally believed the most in your life.

The key to all this, I have realised, is the space between the ears. There is no need to take any nonsense from anyone, lying down in life. It’s ok to be a nice guy, but it’s NOT ok to let people bulldoze over you. The key, therefore, is that space between the ears. Be smart enough to understand that the world is not exactly a bed of roses and be smarter in identifying the thorns. Keep your balance about you, learn to give it back when people misbehave or try to knock you out in the most professional manner, and maintain your self-respect. For me, that self-respect factor, reigns supreme.

I close this piece by saying  that just as people who bulldoze you or ill-treat you, tend to do that without a care in the world, does not mean that you behave in the same way. The key is to maintain your self-dignity and respect, more than anything else. After all, every dog has its day. Keep that space between the ears under control, and most things in life will be in very good control.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

The importance of focus/balance

I met with old college friends this afternoon. Of particular relevance was my meeting with an old friend after 16 years today. It felt great to see him in person after so long. We got busy catching up on each other's lives, and getting updates on what we had been up to over the last decade & a half; and the best thing was that I felt like we were just taking off from where we had left off 16 years ago; as if, it was just last night that we caught up!

During this whole conversation, I realised one major thing i.e. the importance of focus on an individual's career.

For far too long, I have believed that the world has too many distractions that tend to divert the attention of the youth in either tangential or potential wrong tracks. In some cases, these distractions can be unnerving and can even border on irreparable damage. I count distractions such as unnecessary movies, paucity of culture, the lack of importance on values, getting into very attractive but extremely damaging relationships with the opposite gender at an impressionable age, etc. Some are mature enough to handle these distractions, while others are not able to take it. In fact, I have known cases where folks with damaging relationships in college, took a very long time to recover from the mental and psychological impact of such experiences.The only bright thing about such heartbreaks, was that it toughened up the individual due to the bad experience, early in life!

In the course of my conversation with this old friend, I realised how some of us got things early in life; how some others had to struggle to get to where they did; and how many others are still left figuring out their track. .

I am convinced that it is important for us to educate the coming generations to have fun in life, but at the same time, be reasonably measured in their formative years. We cannot let many of the distractions I mentioned above, to take its toll on development.

The key is for the youth to keep focus. Not for a moment am I suggesting not to enjoy life - I am all for it. But, there has got to be a balance in the amount of fun that people at an impressionable age have, and the level of focus that they need to have on their career, in order to build a complete life. Mere fun is temporary; and utter seriousness is not good enough either. I may be asking for too much, but that really is the ask of the day. And,I am specifically referring to folks in the age group of 17-22.

Focus - that's my big new mantra for folks entering college in this era. Make it memorable in terms of fun, relationships, movies,distractions et al; but, not at the cost of losing out on the chance to lay a platform for a great future. No distraction in the world is worth messing up the foundation on which a career is going to be built & on which future families are going to depend on. That is possibly why I see the increasing need for all-rounders and people with a balanced mind and approach to life.

My conversation with my old friend today, just reinforced that one word - balance in life;from the very beginning.