For 2 years I’ve been having mixed feelings about my Taylor guitar. It is a beautiful guitar that my son lugged all the way from Canada for me, but the tone was just not cutting it and the high action was adding to my frustration. I used to pick it up- play it for a bit and it went and stayed in the case for months. That was until today, and all I did was change the strings, to a set with a lighter gauge (thinkness). The difference was magical, and the instrument seems to have come to life and the distinct taylor chime sound with a long sustain now comes through like a dream. Sometimes its the small adjustments that make the biggest difference. It happens all the time at work too- you have a staff that has a performance issue, and sometimes all it takes is for a new manager to come and just change the string gauge and things start sounding dramatically different. We are all great instruments in our own right and sometimes all it takes is a string change and a tune up and for many of us Covid did just that and really opened our eyes to appreciate the little things we took for granted. Time for a setup this New year. 🙏
I watched a recording of the US Presidential debate on youtube- and let me tell you, if you thought the pandemic was the worst 2020 could bring, think again. Come november and the seat for the most powerful human being in the world would go to one of these two.
Yes, you should be worried.
Today was a public holiday and so kavitha and I ordered a full, non-vegetarian meal for lunch and took a postprandial, siesta that extended well into the evening. We got up and panicked- “Oh gawd. that meal was so good , and we over did it, now we won’t be able to sleep tonight. lets go for a long walk” she said. “hmmm. why not just order another big south indian thali (meal) for dinner and address the sleep issue” i quipped in humour.
The stress the world faces today is (1) a lack of choices when it comes to stuff that matter, and (2) our ability to make critical decisions seem to have been compromised by the influence of social media. ( I recommend watching “the social dilemma” on Netflix)
We have a ton of choices when it comes to the super market, but not so at the polling booth. Its like we’re sitting, mouth wide open and mildly sedated on a dentists chair and hearing the dentist go- “Root canal …. or extraction?”, and you shrug your shoulders trying to communicate a “wtf?”, but he takes it as “its fine, either way” and the last thing you remember is him flashing you a “thumbs up”.
So there you have it, we may as yet find a cure to the pandemic in the next few weeks and finally be able to remove our masks- but trust me its not going to be a pretty picture watching a billion people forcing a smile with two front teeth missing- jobs, close family members and probably more.
Till then. paint a smiley face on your mask and pretend its not happening.
My dog max was trained by a police dog trainer, so… don’t be judgemental.
Infact he was so well trained, he had 3 gears when he wanted to poop- “Green”- when he had the thought locked in, but the reflex muscles were still sitting on the couch, teary-eyed and watching the “Lion King” scene where simbas dad is trampled to death. We lived in a community of row houses those days and he would bring his leash in his mouth at 5:30am, wait for you to carry the plastic bag and take him for a walk.
“Amber”, was when sphincter muscles had raised their “kanban” card like a “just-in-time”, manufacturing plant of Toyota. At such times he would give you a ” I dont think you can walk this emergency- just open the door”. He would run 50 meters in the early morning darkness to the community front gate, go to the main road, waking up the street dogs in the process, who’s startled barking would be just enough to relax his sphincter muscles and do his job smoothly.
He would reach a state of nirvana post that, and walk himself back home using the longest, slowest walk possible- stopping at our neighbours front door and drinking the small plate of milk kept their for the cat.
Once in a while though he would be having his afternoon “siesta”, all stretched out on the living room, and he would suddenly jump up with a crazy look on his face- like he’s seen a ghost, look down to make sure he didn’t soil himself, then goes skating through the living room and shoots into the neighbours garden shouting, “RED, RED, RED”, crap there and run back home in slow-motion- like he’s in a Bollywood dream sequence.
We all do that dont we?
Its been a while since I’ve given up on organized religion- but not long enough to forget that of the 10 commandments, two were focussed around maintaining good neighbourly relationships. My take though is if you dont get distracted by the mentions of ox, and man servant, etc, in the script, all it says is “Don’t be a jerk of a neighbour. Make it easy for him to love you”
Many of us though, take a dump in our neighbours garden every morning (okay not literally, that would be gross), but figuratively. In this totally connected world, the definition of “neighbour”, extends beyond the one who shares a physical wall with you. Everytime we make a stupid post on FB, or put up a hurtful comment, we are literally taking a dump in our neighbours garden.
And don’t blame the dog.
Okay so here’s my take on the most famous miracle of all time, we’ve all wanted to do since we were teenagers on a tight weekly allowance – changing water into wine.
Let me first set the context here. The good book refers to this “water to wine” miracle happening at a marriage hall in the Middle East some 2000 years ago. Somebody seems to have miscalculated the drinking abilities of the new “in-laws”, and ordered wine that only got through to round 1 in what was turning out to be a long night.
“Hello? I told you not to invite Mustapha. I’ve seen him drink at the local pub … gawd! See what you’ve done?” doesn’t actually qualify as a good problem statement, but let’s go with that for now.
The first step in any transformation journey is to identify and articulate clearly a need for change or a problem you want to solve. In this case, a unique one, “If I don’t have some wine here in the next 30 minutes – I’m dead”
The next step is to evaluate all available options on the table and confirm that the only “Plan B” available, is not a viable option- this is to ensure that you are fully invested in the change process.
In this particular case, “Plan B” would have involved having the father of the bride, slip on his nike sneakers, walk into a dining hall packed with a tipsy bunch of guests getting ready to line dance to the “cha cha slide”. Then having to bang spoon to plate to grab the attention of the crowd and go – “okay everybody, listen up, we have a small problem here- We’ve run out of wine”.
See what I mean? That’s not a viable Plan B. Is it?
There would have been pin-drop silence and confused looks, and then the father of the bride would have had to outrun a group of half-drunk, new relatives through narrow cobbled streets, side-stepping donkey with high ambitions of serving the messiah, and having three generations on your family tree being cursed in ancient Aramaic. Not good!
Here’s some advise for event planners, business owners and individuals ready for a transformation though – always expect the unexpected and plan for worst case scenarios in life – insurance, miracle men, bouncers, super heroes and a “designated driver” who can get you out of a sticky situation and save the day.
If you on the other hand happen to be that problem-solving, transformational leader, that’s been designated to do a little miracle and save the day- DON’T PANIC. Heres how you do it.
First, close your eyes and ask your sponsor, what flavour of wine he would want to turn this water into.
You can use the most trusted pickup line of a magician and go-
“Pick a fruit. Any fruit.”.
“Grape? Hmmm. How boring and predictable”
Next, crush audience requested fruit into bowl containing a frothing yeast mix, add water and go “Abracadabra!”. That’s it!
Okay, if you’ve read the Harry Potter series, you would have got an insight into the mechanics of crafting a good spell- spells you see serve just one purpose- divert attention and buy time, and hence they’re usually long and confusing … just right to divert your attention long enough for the magic to happen. In this case, approximately 12-15 days for the water to magically turn to wine which I hear is how long ancient wedding parties in the Middle East usually lasted.
Every parable ends with a lesson right – Bringing about a magical transformation in your life uses the same building blocks of wine making. You must ENDURE being crushed by the hard times and come to a point where you WANT to change your present state, you must have mustard seed sized SELF BELIEF and you must have a lot of PATIENCE. It’s that simple. Try it!
As for me, I need to go check if that wine I’ve been brewing has matured as yet. It’s about time.
YES, I think it has.
I remember growing up and going to the local “barber shop” for a haircut. When the guy is done with your head, he’ll dab some powder on your neck, like he’s trying to cover up some errors and blood stains, brings out a mirror and stands behind you like a magicians assistant, letting you have a look at his handiwork, and areas of your anatomy you haven’t seen in months, through a reflection on the mirror in front of you.
You give your head a good look like goldilocks would have (“my. What big ears you have grandmother”) and before you could Identify any flaws, the rascal quickly shifts to the other side, and you nod hesitatingly, letting him know it’s “a okay” – like we had any choice at that point.
Sadly “barber shops” like many small business owners, are taking a big hit in this lockdown, and the mirrors seem sadly to have turned, and it sight doesn’t look good.
I hope small business owners hang in there though and make a come back post the lockdown. I for one have pledged to use their services as far as possible once we’re back to normal mode- you should too.
Take precautions, and go back to that “chai walla”… go back to that 2 seater “hair saloons”… drop by at that family run restaurants …encourage the home bakers…. shop at your local “Kirana” store for basic essentials … encourage local artists…
If you’re afraid these small “barber shops” are going to screw up your hair style- trust me, I’ve seen all your selfies- that ship has passed. 😂 just do it!
Stay safe! 🙏
Coffee lovers like me swear by it. The first one is to wake you up… but it’s the “second one”, that gets those bowels moving.
You may argue that the need for a laxative in these strange and challenging times is non existent. What with having to deal with a virus picking us off one by one, pink- coloured currency notes, and saffron-coloured, right- wingers trolling you in your dreams. Enough to get those wheels hyper sensitive and threaten to soil your bedsheets in your sleep.
Strangely though, over time your Central nervous system gets used to the train of bad news, and your vagus nerve waits for its daily shot of caffeine to pass the memo from nervous system to digestive tract, like a tenured government employee, rubbing thumb to index finger and going, “Saar. Something? something?”
These are strange times though and we’re all acting like we’re in a pandemic of flatulence- staying 6 feet away, wearing masks and staring with mistrust at folks in the elevator, while mnc pharma companies, try to side step a nimble, bare chested “Baba” with a squint. who’s threatening to shout “Pathanjali” as he crosses the finish line holding high the antidote.
Our role now is to just stay home, and what better way to keep a billion people home and flatten the curve, than inducing a pandemic of irritable bowels. Bring that second cup my friend – make it dark. Make it thick. Make it mysterious.
Go ahead. Close your eyes. Drink Deep. Aaah!
Now run …..
I just heard that you have a higher chance of being attacked by a shark when you are swimming at the surface. Hmm. Remember the poster to “JAWS”, ?
Yes, we live in strange time- short fuses, everyone in masks, trying to be politically right and staying away from one other to ensure we don’t connect with a virus. It’s probably therefore a good time to take a deep breath, say a prayer and dive deeper …. into speaking out and not caring about how other people would react. Dive deeper – when you are unsure if that chocolate cake has too many colories baked in. Dive deeper.
Yet, many of us just think it’s safest when you can see the shoreline and are embracing the familiar.
When we are left with no option but to go “skinny-dipping” in the dark, would you want to be lit up against the afterglow of the harbour lights or slip smoothly into the darkness? For the very beliefs that we sought refuge in under normal conditions are probably the ones that could compromise us during a crisis.
Let go…. leave sight of the shoreline…. and face your deepest fears.
STAY SAFE. DIVE DEEP.
Life is short and we are all “day traders” looking for bargains on the market- Walking around. Offering our limited time here in exchange for a shot at earning a livelihood, making meaningful relationships and soaking up experiences.
Not surprising then that everyone is out to get the best “return-on-investment”, and the folk who come out winners are the ones who care about “fundamental analysis” of their relationships and don’t look at the market as a big casino where luck and karma play a part.
Okay at the outset, let me put down a disclaimer that I have minimal to no experience dabbling in the stock market, and cannot be termed a “thought leader” in the field by any stretch of imagination, however I’m proud of the strong personal and professional friendships I’ve built over the years and feel I’ve unconsciously used the same principles – and it’s helped.
So without further ado, let’s get familiar with a few trading terms that should get us all on the road to profit booking in our relationships.
Followers of “value investing” believe that a share price should equal the intrinsic value of the target company’s share. This approach can be used to evaluate our investment strategy in relationships too. Many of us (usually the young, who have a long life ahead of them) have a “trader” mindset going into relationships – “Go in. Make a quick “kill”, and exit” ….. others approach relationships with an “investor” mindset and have a longer horizon, spend a lot of time doing “fundamental analysis” to ensure they carry minimum risk and usually are ready to amortize their gains if required over a period of time.
The key to happiness is to have a portfolio of relationships with both a “growth” and “value” horizon balanced out based on your risk appetite.
“Stop-loss”: This refers to an ”Exit” strategy when things don’t seem to be going as planned. All of us have experienced people who follow you when things are going up, but have a low tolerance for tough times and vanish into thin air when they see a faint grey cloud coming around.
Having said that, it’s important to have an “Exit Strategy” for all our investments and not having one will put you in a situation where you jump into a relationship as a “trader”, crank up losses quickly, pump in more good money behind the bad money to bail out (aka:”fallacy of sunken costs”), get stuck, and decide to become an “investor” and hold on to the stock. Look around you- are you stuck with these types of relationship investments?
“Resistance-Support” levels: Look at the data stupid. Its important to evaluate the universal “high-low” bands that is at the core of any investment. What is an acceptable price to pay for getting into that relationship. Are you paying more than you bargained for? It’s okay if you do, just be sure your risk-to-reward ratio makes sense and you are are cautious when there a high probability that you’re going to lose BIG? Step back, take a good look at the data, but trust your instinct. Also be ready to walk away.
Portfolio: Looking at out relationships like stocks and evaluating them periodically is critical to ensure you are successful as a trader and/ or investor. Remember though that investing in relationships should only be part of your “happiness strategy” and make sure you focus equally on your Career, Health, Wealth. Spirituality.
Quarantine learning #14
I’m riding back from the supermarket, decide to take off my helmet, put it on my tank and ride past my home for no particular reason. It turns out to be a 10 kilometre detour straddling the lake close by.
I ride along ….. smiling. nervously. Would I get my knees hurt? Would I be forced to do exercises I haven’t done since school? Would I need to carry a placard showcasing a sentence that hasn’t been spell-checked and created in “Times New Roman”(Bold)- gawd how I hate that font.
The delivery guy rides past- a cloud of mask, orange and broken dreams …. stick figures with kind faces walk past too.
The wind is cool and warm at once…. stray dogs peep out of a dumpster – a pair of human eyes too. “Levelling the curve” means different things to different people.
The smell of fresh sambar from a quarantined home as I ride past makes me nostalgic for chennai – the borders are closed I remember.
Kids on tricycles – make little dust circles on their verandahs like it were vacation. Old folk peep nervously through half closed windows, only to bang it shut when the sound of a distant cough catches their ear through the din of the TV playing inside.
A distant drum beat…. the flickering hope of Diyaas lit on balconies… a chant dispelling the virus …. a bunch of migrant construction workers sitting cross-legged on the steps of their “company-provided” container shed they now call home- staring into the vacant abyss.
I reluctantly take a turn and head back.
The setting sun makes polite conversation with the moon and an evening star, like factory workers changing shifts.
The water in the lake seems blue- but isn’t…. the trees seem green- but are they ?
The eagle is out, doing an extra lap too …. two crows chase a “kuil”, a forked tail tickles their overgrown eye lashes. Damn, these beauty parlours better be classified as “essential services “ and open fast. A sparrow darts past too (hello friend. it’s been a while! ) while a 1000 fireflies pepper my face as I ride past ….
I realize the padding on the seat of my bike could be a tad more forgiving. My pants do a small “wiggle” and all’s fine. Life’s all about making those little adjustments.
If there’s one thing that I could take away for this period of quarantine – it’s to be more “aware” and conscious of the little, simple things around me that makes life what it is… things till now I’ve probably taken for granted… things we are too busy to notice ….
I hum an old tune – “ Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans” …. the eagle sits majestically – pool side on the terrace of our apartment.
I am home!
It’s simple. The corona virus doesn’t actually kill us, it’s how our body reacts to it- that finally does. That’s the reason why the same virus has an effect no more than that of the common flu in some people, while turning fatal for the elderly with an under-active, weak immune system that suddenly goes to overdrive and damages healthy cells too. We all go through almost similar challenges in life (financial, relationships, etc), it’s finally how WE decide to “respond” to these situations (our immune system) that defines us finally. Don’t let your “over response” to situations do more damage to yourself, than the situation itself? Breathe. Stay balanced. Stay healthy. This too shall pass… #letitBE #covid19
So I have this theory that the devil was present when god was making man. I can imagine them both sitting down under the apple tree and having a general TGIF moment on a Friday evening and as usual god is rattling away at how good his little “universe project” is coming around. The devil is chugging on a glass of wine with his legs resting on a garden chair.
And god goes, “hey luci (yes that’s what I would call a guy named lucifer too.) , want a sneak peak at the new product I’m releasing tomorrow?” And the devil strokes the head of the serpent on his lap lovingly and yawns – “whatever!! Make it fast though- got some work to do on my “universe project” too… “.
So god mumbles something, puts on his specs, hobbles into his workshop adjoining the garden and comes back in a few minutes, “Ta. da. Behold my best ever creation yet” and out walks man. And the devil nearly chokes the little snake on his lap in astonishment, drops his wine glass and goes “OMG. He looks a lot like your evil twin”. god blushes a light shade of pink, “ha!ha! I know, that’s because I made him In my own image.” The devil blows a raspberry, “phurp”. “Damn. Don’t you think that would come across as extreme ego pandering?”.
God looks a bit irritated by now, realizing that his masterpiece is not actually drawing a positive reaction “ You know what – the rest of creation can take a hike, ’cause I care a damn what they think. infact I’m calling him just that – “A damn”…. and you know what ….. (pause for effect) … I’m going to create another one just like this one just to keep him occupied”.
By now lucifer is very amused and the wine seems to be also kicking in nicely, he gets up, the serpent now curls up nicely around Lucy’s neck, flicks a forked tongue and knows there’s something important about to happen. Lucy walks up to Adam, looks him In the eye and goes “boo!!”. Adam jumps up in utter fear and darts out into the garden naked. God tries to control his laughter and admonishes the devil “Luci. Don’t scare the poor boy!”.
Lucifer waits a few moments, for effect and to make sure Adam has well and truly left and walks up to god, and whispers “ you know what? This bald guy is great, but I have a quick fix to keep this dumb chap occupied when the woman you’re planning, isn’t around…”. god dismisses him with a wave of the hand and goes- “don’t worry I’ve taken care of that your pervert? Anyways go ahead it’s Friday evening and I can do with some party talk.”
The devil scratches his bald head and smiles -“ you got to just put some thin grass like stuff on his head that would grow, blow in the wind, get easily disturbed, change colour and fall off. Believe me that’s enough to keep this nitwik occupied”. God shakes his head, slaps the devil on his back and goes “ like hair? finally, that’s sheer genius. Why didn’t I think of that myself. something I could definitely do”. He snaps his fingers and sure enough Adam who’s by now grinning at his own reflection in the stream that runs through the garden of eden, jumps up with joy on suddenly seeing hair pop up on his head and starts running his fingers through it.
God looks at lucifer, shakes his head, smiles and goes – “you little devil! See you tomorrow. Careful it’s getting dark outside….”
And THAT my friend is where it all started…
Fast forward 2000 years …
Growing up we all develop a love-hate relationship with our hair. I didn’t have such privileges though. i grew up with both parents from the forces and was also part of a cult-like religious group- without the pointy hats though. So while the 70s and 80s were marked by long hair and bell bottoms- for us 3 brothers we used to sport what is called a “summer cut”, so lets just agree that much of my relationship with my hair has been – hate.
For the uninitiated, a “summer cut” is essentially where a “barber” would mimic a farmer ploughing his field using a “machine”. Yes when we were growing up – everything was simple and we just called things as it is without fear of being called out as “inappropriate”.
We stayed in a middle class neighbourhood of town, and the “neighbourhood” essentially meant we had an oil shop (to buy kerosene) for cooking …. next was a “Nayyar baker”,… “barber shop”…… “paper shop”… “Brahmin hotel”…. “Potti Kadai….. “Bhai hotel” …. “watch shop”…. next Muslim doc…. then “next street” which essentially was that – the next street, where many of our friends and pandian, our PT master and Alwar our science master from School lives. It was a time before GPS, internet, handphone and 6 lane roads, and so our world essentially extended around a 10 kilometres radius. Go east to marina beach….. west to Nungambakkam …. north to mount road or parry’s corner at best and south to Mylapore ….. or adyar.
So then , sorry I digressed there, the barber used to do “house calls” when we were real small and then, when we could cross the road, we did the “walk of shame” to and back from the hair dresser like a “before”- “after” tictok video. The next week post the dreaded haircut was all about being teased in school, wearing a cap and generally having a good look in the mirror every morning hoping for some growth. We finally landed at church on Sunday morning and everyone gave me an appreciative nod and smile and I literally saw a white dove take off from the back of my head while a voice from heaven went “nitwik”.
Anyways my relationship with my hair has taken a lot of avatars since – “summer-cut” … “step-cut” … “just trimming” … “number 2 blade full-ah podu pah” … “long”, to where I’m now “headed” (sorry for the pun) – “bald!”
… and you’re afraid a virus named after a beer is going to take me down?
This week, I celebrated successfully spinning round the sun another time. Yes just sitting on a rock hurtling through space at 460 meters per second…. or roughly 1000 miles an hour for over 50 years now- enough time to unravel such stuff as Cat motivations and Karma.
Okay now that we’ve got that one out of the way, let’s look at debugging the purpose of life. Surprise! Surprise- life has as much meaning to it as a cat chasing after laser dots. We seem to catch it on some luck day- only to stare blankly at our palms, shake our heads and go – “nope, no meaning here!”
And so along with the realization that none of us are going to leave this rock alive, why get worked up, frustrated, depressed … at people … at the innumerable “what if’s” and “if only’s” from the past that cloud our thoughts in an endless loop.
Lets agree in the new decade that’s rolled in that “happiness” is just a consequence of accepting the choices we made and not feeling nostalgic for the life that never unfolded … and while we’re at it- let’s agree also that “karma” is just as real as a gentle wind that moves our sail boats. We could acknowledge it’s presence, but don’t need to accept the course of its machinations anymore- ‘Cause who goes on sail boats these days anyways? A word of caution though- karma will get you if you sit on your ass and don’t take ownership for your own destiny.
Mankind has proved time and again that we could, by the magic of our imagination and resourcefulness build ships that can drive our lives against these winds of karmas and help us gain full control of our own destiny …. and while we’re at it, may I suggest we stop mocking cats for their stubbornness!
My son just hauled a nice Taylor guitar 13k kilometres on a flight for me and I’ve made a vow to play everyday this year.
I’ve realized a simple hack to ensure you or your kids play more everyday, is to keep the instrument open in the living area of your homes, so you’re passing it a 100 times everyday and since it’s out of its case, tuned and easily accessible – you’ll instinctively pick it up and play a bit. I’ve also realized that if you have the instrument in a case under your bed – chances are you’ll not play it as often.
With the year still new and shining, I think it would be worthwhile to assess the toxic people and negative emotions we’ve allowed to slowly garner prime real estate in the space just around us – our “inner circle” as it were – Because the things we keep most accessible are the things that finally influences and defines who we truly become.
I’ve realized also that Facebook is a great tool to get social, but with artificial intelligence now inbuilt- it’s a “Trojan horse” that has the capability to creep into our little personal spaces and rearrange the furniture – bring into focus or take to the background ideas, thoughts, people and emotions seamlessly, which influences our emotions and values system dramatically. The trick to beat Facebook AI though is “karma”- yes, as we start posting positive stuff, Facebook machine learning gets tricked to sending us the good stuff …. and we continue to use whatsapp to wash the dirty linen. 👋😂
As for me I’m going to address the “Solomon paradox” within me- talk to myself in the third person and Try and use the advise I give others myself. 🤔🤨🙄
So then, when you decide to do the 12 hour drive from Trivandrum on the west coast of India to chennai on the southern coast Like I did yesterday – the most common route is to drive further south around the western ghats, touch the coastal town of nagerkoil at the southern tip of india, take a sharp U turn and go up the southern coast of india.
It’s difficult not to get totally immersed in the beauty of this little patch, however this point is probably what some may call the right place for a dangerous “perfect storm” – seas on 3 sides and a mountain range (western ghats) cutting through. But then you pass the town of “Muppandal”, in Tamilnadu, which was till recently just another impoverished, but beautiful, little southern coastal town, and you pass giant wind turbines now and realize someone had a brilliant brainwave and flipped the context – These are the perfect conditions to harness the seasonal monsoon winds blowing from the Arabian Sea and gushing through the mountain passes, and set up what is today the second largest onshore wind farm In the world. This stroke of genius has brought in jobs and turned the fortunes of all the people in “muppandal”.
In life we sometimes find ourselves in a “Muppandal-like” situation- when
everything seems to be going down and the winds seem perennial, so
much so that some even call it “being cornered between the devil and the deep blue sea”. But we have an option- either accept our “fate”, wallow in self-pity and go down the path of personal ruin…. or with a little rejigging of the context of our situation, we can build ourselves a wind turbine and harness the innate advantages of the unfortunate circumstances we find ourselves in- that nervous energy, that freedom to take risks because you have nothing else to lose, that anger, that realization that theres nowhere else to go- but up, and turn your life around.
Remember what they taught you about the “eye of the storm”… well let me tell
you- they got it wrong – it’s the “i” in the storm. Infact most storms start with the “i”- Address the ego (I) that probably started it all in the first place, and is now also stopping you from turning your situation around and living a better life and get to work.
“So what’s your purpose?”
It was the end of a long offsite and the boss asked this of each of the leadership staff round the table a couple of months back.
Hmmm, It’s a tough one actually and most folk at the first instance mix up “passion” with “purpose”, however knowing the subtle difference between the two is key to making critical life and career decisions, and so I’ll try and deconstruct it here.
Let’s start with a confession- most of us parents at some point encouraged our kids to “follow your passion beta”, so they wouldn’t have to “work” a single day. Great advise right? Hmmm. Not actually…. Infact it’s probably a shitty career advise to give a pimply teenager- unless you’re setting your kids up for short- term happiness, and not for long-term success exactly.
Firstly, not everyone is an enlightened being who knows his/ her “true” passion- which unfortunately ebbs and flows for us mere mortals at different points in life, and so probably not a valid parameter to make a career decision on … also it doesn’t always guarantee a vocation or decent livelihood. I’ve seen a lot of brilliant musicians, artists who pursued a passion they loved doing and deeply enjoyed, only to end up leading a life of compromise, and heartache trying to make a decent living.
Okay let me explain with some biking analogies.
There are two key elements in creating energy in a bike or any motor vehicle for that matter – “ignition” and “combustion”. When the spark that ignites you comes from within you and motivates you to drop everything and pursue this dream selfishly- it’s “passion”. If however that spark comes from an external source, like a persona, or a life changing event, etc, it’s called “inspiration”
One thing we all can agree on- Life is dull without passions and it is an emotion that lights you up like a Christmas tree, gives you goosebumps, and makes you feel alive when you find it. It could be anything – music, sport, art, etc. Passion however is focussed inward on the individual, and like a spark – is temporary, directionless, selfish, full of emotion and if left unattended can actually be ‘effing dangerous.
If you are a biker – you’ll get the subtle difference – “Passion” is ignited at the spark plug, and “Purpose” happens at the carburetor.
Hold that thought for a moment …
So then, when your “little munchkin” says “I loooooove playing cricket” while stuffing his face with another slice of cheese pizza- it doesn’t actually qualify as “passion”.
Remember that the little spark that ignited at the spark plug on the engine side needs to be powerful enough to take that “leap of faith” across the firing ends and make contact with the air and fuel mixture, to really matter. If it doesn’t- it’s just “infatuation”., and the role of parents and teachers is to provide the kid enough space to explore his interests and gauge which one of those is powerful enough to do that “leap of faith”….
Don’t get me wrong- Passion is important and ignites big things in life…. but to make things happen continuously over a prolonged period, a “controlled combustion” is critical, and THATs where “Purpose” comes in.
(TA-DA) ….. The carburetor …The role of a carburetor on a vehicle is simple- control the air and the fuel mixture to ensure a “controlled combustion” and this is all done within the confines of what’s called a carburetor and in this context – Purpose.
When you ensure you have the right motivations, talent and skill and put in the effort required- with a little patience, the magic happens and the engine purrs to life.
Exactly how much fuel and air an engine needs varies from moment to moment, depending on how long it’s been running, how fast you’re going, and a variety of other factors.
So what is “Purpose” and how do we know what our purpose in life is?
A layman’s guide to understanding his/ her “purpose” in life is finding a convincing answer to the simple question – what would I rather be doing to change the world in a small way and bring meaning to my life, if I had no need to earn a living? Mere Mortals often chase after “passions”, super heroes however are motivated by a larger than life “purpose”.
So then, understanding the underlying “why” we want to do the things we want to do is probably a great starting point to analyze the inner motivations, unconscious needs and purpose we aim to fulfil in pursuit of happiness.
Sure your kid is passionate about cricket and wants to drop out of school (atta-boy) and join a cricket academy after watching the latest edition of the cricket league. However before you sell off your home and pull “beta” out of school, try asking the important questions. Does this cheetos-eating, coke-drinking, CSK- tee-shirt-wearing, chubby guy REALLY have the skills and staying power to compete at the highest level – Or are his motivations only driven by the desire to sport “bling” and be entertained by fan girls ? I’d suggest you seriously consider a plan B if you’re blinking at this point ….
… and finally, life is all about balance – and following your passion within the context of your purpose is probably the right direction to take to ensure fulfilment of your true potential, becoming a success in any career you choose to pursue and living a fulfilled life.
Now …. don’t quote me in on any of the above, Its not like I’ve attained nirvana- I’m just another traveller on the open road
Ride hard. Ride safe!