Sunday, November 16, 2014

Basic, not base emotions

Often, I muse upon the subtleties between enthusiasm and optimism; risk taking and impulse, self-sacrificing and altruism, and so on. These are fascinating areas of thought, and inferences from a similar behavior may trace back to different origins. E.g. who do you think is more of a risk taker - the cricketer Sehwag, or Virat Kohli? Who is more of the impulsive businessperson - Richard Branson or Vijay Mallya?

If seen from a more coarse, or meta-level, what may be the basic emotions we experience as humans? I am left with what Master Richard McHugh taught us years ago. He said there are four basic forms that emotions take. Our brains are capable of focussing on finite chunks of emotion in given time, and as such, may not process each with similar vitality or intensity in the same moment. Yet, when distilled, there are 4 basic emotions to deal with as below.

1.       Joy – where celebration and the general word happiness exist. This may not be an absence of grief, but surely the discovery of meaning is a great contender here. 
      For me meaningfulness is an necessary reframing of grief at times, as the travails of nature hold up gifts through experiences of suffering.
2.       Grief – where the helplessness in loss pervades, and stymies the senses accordingly to a near foreclosure of options. It is grieving during separation, or death of a loved one that calls for a spirited appraisal of emotional investment. Grief is a coming to terms with nature’s cycles when ends are a renewal or a rebirth of life-forms.

3.       Anger – where not being able to get what one wanted is asserted in varying levels of intensity. Unlike grief, it is a contacting emotion, as the aim one can benefit from in the case of anger is a deepening of one’s relationship with the other with whom we are angry.

4.       Sex – and this is the counter-intuitive emotion. Sex is a procreating drive for most, but it is a life-assertive energy that when repressed causes more ill – physical, social and emotional, than we are willing to admit. Sex as bodily differentiation in gender and unity of species as life-form is slow but essential realization. Deep respect can only ensue from traversing the deep masculine, shallow masculine, and deep feminine and shallow feminine aspects of sexual identity in the same body. It is about tuning in to one’s body and its creative forces. It is also about understanding that repressed from civil discourse, we often confuse this with love – which, in fact is a decision, and more than a fundamental emotion.

Having made mention, it is useful to be clear about love. Love is a decision to give in conscious awareness all of oneself to oneself, and to others who may share in spirit, social relationship or ideology. In this sense, love is not a free flowing emotion. It is not an object of manipulation either. As Osho Rajneesh once mentioned, it is psychologically impossible to love another without loving oneself. Self-acceptance and self-improvement are both components of self-esteem, and impoverishing either reduces the chances of loving others.

Loving others as oneself, therefore is a whole new meaning - a joy to live into!

What do you think?

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Go online to reduce the anxiety of impulse buying!

My son rarely has accompanied us (his parents) on grocery shopping. He joined us for this once yesterday. The reasons for it is another story. The reason for my mention is the story that should interest you.

Wheeling the cart around the corner he said, it is better to shop online to reduce your cost of shopping. "Saves fuel and parking costs?" I was curious. "No, it reduces impulse buying - see that lady there - she may not even need it". A lady was staring hard at the goods placed at a place that required no effort to wind through the racks. I was immediately reminded of Paco Underhill's influence on position of merchandise in line with human anthropoid, and his book "Call of the Mall".

Having once written a book review on Sheena's book "The Art of Choosing", we also are a collective that have foisted a recent political regimen on ourselves in India. But sadly, I have been alerted to the consequence of numbing. And then I saw this one by Renata Salecl on TED. Take a look and see if we we have a passion for ignorance.

The ignorance of not knowing where we are headed is marked by the obviousness of the numbing we are now used to. Like getting up and expecting the world of infrastructure and systematic transportation serving the millions. As of now sales personnel work on clients and earn their incentives from those who may not need a second or third car or smart phone in India!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

What Purpose Values?

At a remembrance event for my late brother Philip George at the Loyola School, Pune, Sukratu Barve had a sage like reflection.  He said Philip would ask Sukratu for his opinion on subjects he liked. In reflecting this tendency Sukratu felt that Philip for the scholar he was - respected even others' views of a subject.  This to Sukratu was spiritual.  For a Professor of Physics to state so, there has to be a wisdom from a forever that laws of physics cannot express through symbolic equations or formulas.  Almost everyone there agreed that Philip was a personification of ideal conduct and in Jesuit value, the  'man for others'.

In recent weeks two people who worked with me years ago, asked me for my permission to quote me as reference on their job applications.  It is my reflection in our times, that people make job transition attempts more to preserve the value of goodness in themselves than to see their salaries increase. 

Just yesterday I facilitated a meeting where the HR team were considering the explicit statement of values for their organization. Their context? Designing their role and competency matrices. In the last week,  I was immersed in data that spoke to a varying commitment to values espoused by the founders. Some connections between such dots is but natural.

1. It is the absence of the virtue in a value that makes for its significance than when it is present on paper and missing in its practice. We value things we lose, don't we?

2. Rituals of repetitive nature may actually denude the value than accrete it.  To provide experiential flow,  timing and not time of ritual or ceremony matters. So, it is a systemic value to be punctual in Japan, but it is a matter of magical calibration to time oneself to the leader's message in India.

3. Values that bond humans are fairly universal and could make for connect across organisations.  Organization specific values fall in a cluster that speaks to its character, often promoted by its founders.  

4. The more enduring the value the more elusive it's formalization.  Organizations struggle with method of Influence to espouse and socialize higher purpose values such as Love, Peace and Harmony. Being Clean and Transparent in interactions is the instrumental variant of the more Terminal Value of Purity. Tempted founders may confuse the morality of norms to control cleanliness, when they may mistakenly believe that they aim for Purity through control.

5. Terminal values are seen at first to conflict with base economic aspirations.  Instrumentality trumps transcendent values and is languaged as the world of operations or mundane transcations. This speaks to the character of spiritual religious or social organisations as distinct from business organisations.

In closing, am reminded of how the source of each of these values is our own very selves. While awareness mediates its realization, it is wonderful to experience it. Yesterday, when coaching a client whose overall sales accountability has touched USD $2bn, it was an acknowledgement that the client made that rang the values bell in me. Mindfulness helped my client zone in on management of stress, and it is this quiet confidence from which, the next action steps of transforming the world around the professional begins. 

Often, organizations make such realization a matter of instrumentality. This is a zone of confusion, no doubt, but oftentimes, a willful detachment from inner knowing of one's core makes for a crevice of unease in organizations. Religious or social benefit organizations and business organizations are all susceptible to such cognitive and emotional blocks. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Triumph can overwhelm

Not sure yet which gender belongs to Mars. Venus is still light years off. The frugal engineering and parsimonious applied science that launched India as a nation through interplanetary space lifted human spirit like never before. 

It is no equation or alloy technology that I can identify with when marveling at ISRO scientists' collective accomplishments. I do not know how to feign such knowledge either. So here's what surrounds me as the overwhelming mood engulfs the nation.

1. It was a mission, like locusts movements. Locusts have no king, and yet they march in ranks. It was not a campaign where a kingly authority reigned. Yet, the nation willing to be swept beneath the apogee missed this distinction. I am hoping we glean this subtlety sooner than later.

2. Design trumps operations. No matter how marvelous project and program management can get with agile and scrum methods, MoM may not have delivered without a requisite specificity in design phases. Quality cannot be sacrificed even if expense control is a target.

3. Shared context is unconscious value base, and diversity binds it best. It is known that most of the scientific cadres on Indian government rolls come from aspirational histories. The lack of the silver spoon hardwired struggle and survival in resource constrained contexts. The distinguishing competence of these scientists may well be the temperament of method in enquiry, and not curiosity per se.  Both past hardwiring and cultivated scientific temperament fuse together best when language, creed and faith are transcended in long gestation. If removed even by a bit, you may experience jugaad, but not the elegance of robust science.

Well for starters, these are points that I choose over many others. They may seem simple on the surface. But they may well transcend the complexity of rocket science.

In sheer paradox, as a nation, we may have got this mix in serendipity than through science of social psychology or the procedures of conscripted ideology or manuals of leadership code. 

What do you think?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Against the grain?

Recently at least two of my clients requested my assistance in selecting people to positions they needed to recruit into. My OD self stirred in the confidence of the relationship, but raised a question of identity.

Both clients however decided that all they wished were  referrals. They would shortlist and recruit at their will. That was a small relief. But the anxiety revolved around the ability to place and position my request in their mould to people on my social network. However in one case, it was apparent that the client knew a candidate and wished an independent opinion.

I brought on my scientific temperament and asked the candidate to respond to the Harrison's Assessment online questions. That gave me a surer footing in the face to face interaction.

That is when it occurred to me that differentiation by specializations deflect whole person presence in the selection process. That to me is an organization effectiveness window.

So when I gave my sense of a thumb rule, the client's eyes and ears were up. Here's what I mentioned.

25% to social references from professionals known by the candidate.
25% to sound psychometrics especially on person role fit and likely derailers.
25% to candidate track record, of which 15 is self-report, 10 is based on rewards and ratings of others.
25% to the interview method or a slew of selection processes.

Now I have conveyed to my social network that I do not think am a specialist at recruiting. But they liked my trusting them to their ability to refer and do their references a world of good.

What was against the grain, was a learning experience for me. What do you think?

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Attributes of Leader Identity and Social media

When social media thrives on pretentious audio-visual blitzkriegs from HR leaders, crises within their firms are more probable. Employees experience the brand far more certainly than creatively projected messages that distance the HR leadership from their own employee bases.
When business leaders  have more of their way than feedback from those in immersive value creation; delusions may overrun the firm' s fortunes. Surely the ability to receive feedback also atrophies with age and time, when such leadership proceeds as if unassailable. Let alone accepting and acting on feedback; communication rarely achieves the intent of the message in such firms.

I have known leaders in the recent past who due to their incomplete apprenticeship with power issues, have reported some of the tendencies as noted below.
1. In the frustration of not experiencing maturity or demonstrable competence, they deepen the divide between decision makers and implementers. Ironically, their attempts to kiss and make up in repentance meets with suspicion and slows the firm down further.
2. Upon initiating change in their organizations, their unrevised power archetype stresses them out. Unable to see their own role in the creation of phenomena they are part of, vulnerability causes more pain than change and they stay away from self-awareness. In hierarchical cultures, they even deny their tension with their investors. In less hierarchical cultures, their openness may be abused by even more insecure power mongers.

Can leaders meet such a challenge?
Surely. This is easier said than done. However, recent sharing from people like Bennis, on judgment and Goleman and Altman on self-awareness help.
It is when fallacious questions are asked that curiosity and self-development are arrested in their tracks. E.g. what's the way to show return on investment on self awareness ? The goal of self-awareness is the goal in itself.

Social media can be an alibi for human resource development. Let us beware. Only when the inward journey is reflected in outward expression is authenticity experienced, irrespective of the medium!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

When will we know we have accomplished our Purpose?

So you may read this differently, as your age may so imply for you. I was asked recently by a young employee of a bubbling start-up, “So when will I know I have met my ‘purpose’?” Significant yearning. How does one respond, for the journey is the experience remembered and not the destination?

In spiritual traditions, there is a notion of explanatory power that I will attempt to essay from. It is about Love. The question on Love is, where does it come from? The contemplative response is, “We do not know. But it is known in the moment of receiving”.  So, what about giving? Love is the decision to give of oneself fully in the moment of giving. We give to each other as we give to ourselves. If we love ourselves, we have the opportunity to be compassionate with others.

So, does one receive love if one loves oneself? Is it possible that we deceive ourselves? Yes, we may deceive ourselves, if awareness is absent. The inward journey is the more sacred journey than the outward movement. Loving oneself is realizing that one stands for one’s awareness, and thereby taking responsibility for self, trusting the unborn future and integrating the irretrievable past.  

When such giving is a connectedness with self, love awakens as a spirit of eternal nature. We were born with it. In bodily form may stray from it due to distractions our existence provides through our senses. It is giving to oneself that people confuse with selfishness, where the balance is tipped unashamedly towards self without reverence or concern for others.  Returning to self, is in large part the way out of a mid-life crisis as well. With compassion for self , loving others transforms in experience as an extended expression of inner awareness.

OK, so what does loving the self require? First and foremost, awareness as distinct from introspection. Introspection judges. Awareness is non-judgmental. So is this a prescription as in a to do list? Hardly. Like the grass is thankful for the rain, it needs the earth as medium for expression. But, the awareness is evident in the acknowledgement.  What happens inward, language can confuse for its vocabulary may not be in spoken form per se.

Secondly awareness can be robbed of wholesomeness, if one does not accept with vulnerability. Avoiding pain or discomfort from willingness to be aware is to avoid growth as well.  This is the place from which creativity soars, joy and grief is experienced, and time is lived in. Avoiding the anxiety of transformation is when rigidity takes over, fear is emboldened and time is merely lived through. Meaning and purpose is the insight from awareness. Meaningfulness is the joy of the engaging presence of purpose.

Thirdly, multiple intelligence faculties are involved in awareness. With experience, mastery enhances discriminatory intellect or what Indian language terms vivekabuddhi. A sculptor knows hardness of stone from softness of water. A mason knows brick-laying from the kiln process but will not master the architect’s interpretive art of structural stability of multi-tiered, multiple material infrastructure. A digital media artist, will play with font, lighting, contrast and resolution display; whereas the data scientist will creatively toggle at series theories, computational efficacy of algorithms and outputs from machine learning varieties.

So, to the original question – when is purpose realised? In my experience, Purpose is related most to life themes, that hang together in relatively stable ways. But like love, perhaps Purpose is known when you arrive in the moment from a journey that sustains the commitment to the themes of one’s life. Vocabulary may distort reality and affect the content of the experience itself. E.g. youth motivated by the term ‘social service’ may confuse ‘cause-motivation’ with deterministic activism, and destroy the core value of the cause in the course of the experience.  Getting others to accept one’s point of view from a 'social service angle, may be twisted as an art of selling; and in unconscious error end up antagonizing others' values on the same dimension. A lack of congruence between one’s own awareness and statement of purpose will signal a lack of synchrony. The cause may be related to upholding a sense of justice, or it may be to do with merely pleasing others from a pliable norm that one got exposed to as social rituals in community.

After all changing others is Radicalism. Changing oneself is Idealism. Accepting oneself is Realism. Becoming oneself is the Essence of Being. Doing from the state of Being is an expression of one’s Greater Purpose Statement.

What is interesting to note is that what was once considered as mid-life crises was associated to the biological age of 45 or so. It is my perception that even in middle-class Indian milieu, the average middle-age is now down to 35 or so. The purpose question is preceded normally by fundamental ones – Who am I? What am I doing now?

Life in its fullness begins with answers to these questions. That is when the essential crises happen before Purpose reveals itself to the mindful aware self. And now, am not asking you for your age; would you ask that of yourself? What else goes with your response?