The Pull and Push of 2Ds – Determination & Destiny

Life is a 2D game between our ‘determination’ and our ‘destiny’.

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We think about it every day.

How will the day go? How will the week go? How will the year go?

How will the narrative of life play out?

For me, it is a 2D game between our ‘determination’ and our ‘destiny’.

Our determination refers to all that we can control and add to the narrative of our life that we wish to see unfold.

Our destiny refers to all that we cannot control but it gets added to the narrative of our life, changing it, for better or worse, whatever.

Sometimes, determination and destiny work in opposite directions with varying intensities.

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Situation 1

Sometimes, determination and destiny push in the same direction, of course with intensities that they like.

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Situation 2

We do not see the fruition of our efforts in situation 1 while the situation 2 surprises us because of the secret sauce created by determination and destiny together design what we cannot imagine.

So, what do we do?

Stay ‘determined’ and keep ‘showing up’ to do our part.

If our push of determination weakens when the destiny decides to push with its full force, we will regret it big time.

Hence, let’s show up each day with our determination to excel as a professional, partner, parent and person.

That’s what we can certainly do.

This astounding story of Maria Sharapova will tell you what a delightful mix of dedication and destiny can do!

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Before her birth, Chernobyl disaster happened in Russia, a mere hundred km away from her parents’ home. Radiation affected every inch of life – big mushrooms, contaminated water, dying life.

Her mother conceived her and stayed for a while eating those ‘big’ mushrooms, drinking that water before they left. Maria believes that it caused her to rise to a ‘big’ 6 ft 2 inches with indomitable strength.

They moved to Sochi, a Russian town where a tennis clinic was run by Yuri Yudkin. He saw a four-year-old Maria and declared that she is different. He told her father to get out of Russia if he wanted her to become a world-class tennis player.

But where?

Yudkin sent them to a Moscow camp where Martina Navratilova had come to see the young kids play. “America is the place”, she told Maria’s father. He listened. He decided to leave.

But how?

Visas were difficult, almost impossible. The father went to the visa official.

Guess what? The officer’s daughter was eight and loved tennis.

He said, “Are you sure you want to take a six-year-old to the USA to train? Only you two can go, not the mother”.

“Yes”, the father said.

The officer issued the visa.

In between Chernobyl, Sochi, Moscow camp and Embassy, the little girl practiced every day.

Destiny is needed but determination and dedication are needed 24X7. Who knows when you meet your visa officer for the future?

 

How to imagine the ‘Family of the Future’

A Family of the FutureAmazon has filed for a futuristic Patent No 9, 778,653 & it is called ‘systems devices and methods delivering energy using an autonomous vehicle’ for a drone which could recharge an electric car on the move. The technology to charge a moving car through a drone hovering over it is nowhere close to being created but it could be a fact of the future being envisioned by likes of Bezos & Musk.

Similarly, we need to think about families of the future.

“What was the ceiling five years ago is going to be the floor five years from now,” said Malcolm Frank of Cognizant.

I wish to apply this principle of Chaotic Change to our families.

Are our families already changing? No and Yes.

No, because the jobs that a family does are not changing at the moment (I can imagine changes in the future). Yes, because the way these jobs get done is certainly changing.

Let me figure out the jobs of a family. What does a family provide to its members physically, emotionally, socially, creatively?

  1. I get a secure home, stability with facilities due to my family. All the material requirements that need money are fulfilled by the family. Vinita Bali, a veteran business leader who has worked with MNC’s across the world, says, “The biggest asset of my childhood was that it was a secure childhood without any dramatic happenings. That made me a very secure and balanced person.”

This feeling of security will change if the family stops doing the job of providing security & stability.

With divorce rates rising above 50% in most of the American and European countries and the crude marriage rate declining to an all-time low, less and less people are marrying and even lesser intend to stay married.

So, stability and security within marriage are reducing. More and more children, born out of crumbling unions or very temporary unions will be filling the world. *

2. Family prepares the children for their future by educating them, encouraging them, nurturing them and giving them a social stature.

Meher Pudumjee, Chairperson of Thermax Ltd, shares that her parents gave prime importance to her education and encouraged her to study anything that interested her. It was special because she, despite being a girl was encouraged to study science while her parents were fine with her brother enjoying cooking and embroidery. Only a family with growth mindset could do this.

This encouragement and freedom will change either if the family stops providing the nurturing and freedom or children stop needing it.

Modes of education are changing. Accessibility to knowledge and ease of its application is reducing the need for educational and social support. Maybe, children of the future will educate themselves anytime, anywhere and the need of families might dwindle.

Whatever will be, will be.jpg3. The family keeps us human by giving us love, a sense of belonging and a feeling of being dutiful in return.

Naveen Jain, Founder of Viome and Moon Express, says that his biggest achievement in life is raising his amazing children and not being a visionary entrepreneur. He is more proud of his children than his professional achievements.

This sense of belongingness will change either if family stops being that source of giving love or we start living like a lonely island.

Technology is making it very convenient to break boundaries of families and intruding into the safe spaces. If children will not be able to look up to their parents, if the couple will be suspicious of each other, families will not be able to give love and a sense of belonging.

4. Families support us to surpass the odds and reach for the stars. Situation within our families (positive or negative) spark our creativity to catapult beyond imagination.

Vikram Seth, the celebrated Author could write freely because his mother discovered his sensitivity at a very young age and stood by his choices at every cost. This creative push will change if, families stop being the one stop shop for growth or we stop looking at families for the same.

Most of the families will change. Only exceptionally committed and disciplined families will survive. They will keep doing the jobs they are supposed to do.

We can patent our own family by balancing the positives of the past and present to enter the future.

We will need families to stay human.

Reference:

*The crude marriage rate is the number of marriages taking place per thousands in a geographical population in a year.

What happens if you are not a SPICE Personality?

A SPICE personality doesn’t focus on one role while underplaying or ignoring or cheating in other roles.

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Pic courtesy – Swaraa Lodha

A SPICE personality is someone who strives to excel in all the prominent roles that he plays in his/her life, as a partner (to the spouse/friends/peers), as a parent (to children and one’s parents), as a professional and as a person.

A SPICE personality doesn’t focus on one role while underplaying or ignoring or cheating in other roles. He/She strives to strike a balance in his/her life by playing to the potential as a parent, partner, professional, as well as a person.

What do you lose when you are not a SPICE personality?

  1. You become a linear thinker who focusses on riding only the parental wave or the professional wave. You get obsessed with being the super boss or the supermom (super dads?). While believing that you have no time for other roles. You compartmentalize and box yourself and that leads to resentment and feeling of loss later. Many Indian women friends of mine gave up their careers because they were expected to focus only on their families. Society and parents judge women harshly when they think about a work deadline and the husband wants hot breakfast. A young dad recently told me, ‘Recently, I massaged my two-month-old son. My wife was surprised yet happy but my mother did not approve of it.’ I gave him a high five to start giving a bath too to his baby.
  2. If you focus on your profession only, you become a peak professional but a reluctant parent or an absent partner. You will get the professional spotlight on you while your close ones get relegated to dark corners or feel neglected. Steve Jobs followed Zen which means attention while designing life-changing products for Apple but could never pay attention to empathy in relationships. It has caused a lot of pain to his children and friends.
  3. You lose touch with authenticity. There might be a team of associates and subordinates who agree with your views and decisions owing to your authoritative position, not the genuine respect.

But think about your partner or your children. Do they love you and respect you for who you are or because that is conditioned and convenient? Mahatma Gandhi was respected by all Indians while their family suffered a lot due to his ideologies that gave his wife and children no freedom.

A one-dimensional success puts you on an inauthentic road where you feel you have arrived while your close ones might not be sharing the same idea.

This success gives euphoria but fulfillment remains far away.

If you give all your time and energy in raising children and building a family while ignoring your own self, that again makes you feel incomplete and used. Your children might be the most adorable and accomplished and you would try to take solace in thinking that it was worth it, your own interests and dreams will haunt you and cause bitterness. A retired teacher once told me,’Being a parent is a thankless job. My students valued me more.’

  1. Focusing on only one part of your persona is akin to putting all your money in one bag. Rather than having a balanced portfolio, a skewed portfolio spikes danger. If your professional success, for which you sacrifice all the remaining roles, takes a beating for whatever reason, you will be completely crestfallen. You will not get any cushion to ease the blow.

If you focus excessively on the words of a song and not the melody and music arrangement, expect a dud.

Why do we need ‘SPICE’ in life?

Excellence in life comes from summing up the skills that we create and develop in both settings – at home and at the workplace.

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Pic Courtesy: Memory Makers

I am a woman, a wife, a mother and a professional. I have pivoted my profession so that I can savor some special moments with my daughter who is in her high school and starts college next year. This pivot has made me pretty available around the house which has not been a usual sight for last fifteen years of our family history.

So, I experience some conversations like these :

  • “Look at these napkins. I just don’t like the color. Also, why can’t we have of the tray of face towels and hand towels by the side of the wash basin in the dining area?” asked my husband, irritated.

We have had this discussion once before where I told him that it will be a hassle at home to have a lot of small towels for washing, drying, folding and replacing every day.

I come from ‘Keep it simple’ school while he comes from ‘Make it grand’ school. Alas, the twain doesn’t meet.

Anyway, to avoid a hat-trick of the same discussion, I took the grand decision. My husband uses three towels every day from the stack with pride and loves the arrangement when guest come over.

  • Though he watches videos and travels by cabs, he considers the phone to be a menace (All the incoming calls are on reject mode on his phone). As a result, I generally book these cabs because he doesn’t like the hassle.

“Why do you give the house number? Give only the number of the building? He asks each time he hears me talking to the driver.

I have explained it to him that it is needed if you want the cab to be waiting for you just outside the building, not the compound. Still, he asks the same question every time thinking I need some correction.

  • Recently, my daughter was debating with me about the trouser she should wear for a formal school event. It is a very tough decision for a teenager to make and I was trying to scrape for all the patience in me to keep having a ‘dialogue’ with her.

The father entered the discussion to offer advice. As he was not regularly a part of these decision-making sessions, he found our daughter to be rude and unnecessarily angry for no reason. She settled for a trouser quickly to close the discussion in presence of a foreign entrant but the parting shot came from this new entrant on the scene, “What is the point of writing all these Parenting Books when your daughter is so ill-behaved?”

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That set me thinking. Such thoughts, opinions have been around for so long that we assume them to be acceptable.

Anyone who takes on domestic and parenting responsibilities by staying at home becomes a collector of such thoughts, opinions, beliefs that start changing you the way age does – silently, subtly but substantially.

The partnering and parenting domains are considered as an operational hazard by those who are passive participants in these. But they reserve their right to judge, instruct and advise.

sPice framework is neither about women leaving professional roles and falling off the leadership cliffs nor about how to stick to the ambition. It is about valuing the work of everyone who is ‘working’ away from meeting rooms and office desks and creating a skillset which is professionally relevant and ‘lifely’ must.

Why is ‘Leadership’ offered a pedestal and ‘Parenting’ offered a Sigh?

Why is ‘Leadership’ celebrated and ‘Parenting’ tolerated?

Why ‘Leadership’ is a life-long learning but ‘Parenting’ is a gap in the resume?

If leadership skills help a person and an organization discover himself and contribute meaningfully, parenting skills do the same, rather more profoundly.

With artificial intelligence taking the mechanical aspect of our jobs away, humans would be left to focus more on the ‘human’ aspects of our jobs – that which can’t be executed by machines.

The creative, collaborative, and communicative skill set required for us to succeed and stay relevant has deep roots in our skill-sets that make us effective parents, caregivers, and homemakers.

Excellence in life comes from summing up the skills that we create and develop in both settings – at home and at the workplace.

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Persona or Person

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Pic courtesy: Swaraa Lodha

We always see the persona, not the person. Persona is ‘cool’ while a person is ‘useful’.

A persona is a mask which tells you a part of the story, while a person is a story.

Persona is magnetic, but the person is authentic.

Persona is our present to the world while the person is our present to ourselves.

The lesser the gap between the persona & the person, the happier we are.

Check your ‘professional persona’, ‘partner persona’ and ‘parent persona’.

If we accept our vulnerabilities, we can merge these personas with the person that we are.

Happy Striving!

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Fearless or Fear Less?

It is difficult and dangerous to be fearless.

But it is powerful and peaceful to fear less.

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Pic Courtesy: Swaraa Lodha

Is fear an adjective or a noun for you?

Fear, as a noun or adjective is stationary and makes us overconfident. It prompts us to take risks where none is needed.

Is fear a verb in your life?

Fear, as a verb is fluid and makes us balanced. It prompts us to dilute our fears, not to ignore them at our own peril.

It is difficult and dangerous to be fearless.

But it is powerful and peaceful to fear less.

What is your desired difficulty?

The problems of the present may become the desired difficulty of tomorrow. Every weakness and every failure can become a desired difficulty.

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Research by Julie Logan at City University London shows that around one-third of successful innovators/entrepreneurs have been dyslexic.

Being dyslexic becomes the desired difficulty termed, a difficulty that prompts and prepares them to succeed.

Many successful dyslexic people like George Barnard Shaw, Richard Branson attribute their successful journeys to their dyslexia as it helped them in adapting very well to the uncertain environment.

What is your desired difficulty?

The problems of the present may become the desired difficulty of tomorrow. Every weakness and every failure can become a desired difficulty.

My failure to understand ‘directions’ has turned into a desired difficulty.

First, it keeps me alert. Second, it helps me explore things. Third, it gives me a chance to laugh at myself.