First Time With Specs

Frog with Specs

My son got his specs this August. He was a bit upset yet excited to wear spectacles.

When we drove back home from the shop, he said “First time coming home with specs.” This started off a whole lot of “first time” quotes. The next day it was “First morning with specs, First breakfast with specs, First time to school with specs” and many more that day. I thought this would last a day or so, but it went on to the weekend. That weekend it was “First weekend with specs, First time football class with specs.”

It didn’t stop there, it went on. My daughter joined too and helped my son remember all that he was doing the first time with specs. Every now and then, there would be “First time something with specs”. I caught on too and played along. It was cute.

When their birthdays came up, this changed to “First time doing something at the age of eight (or six)”. It went on like “First time vacation when we are eight and six years old.” Now this was getting interesting. I played along with this too. It was now “First time going to a poetry session with specs at the age of six, First time having buffet lunch in a restaurant at the age of six.”

What caught me as remarkable was the continued enthusiasm. Children don’t need an external reason to be happy and excited about the things they do. They find their own reasons. This tendency is lost with age and people get used to doing the daily activities of life.

With this understanding, I tried out an experiment on myself. When I changed my specs, I told my children “First time going to office with new specs.”  It was a very interesting feeling. For a moment, it was like I was really doing something new and exciting.

The need for freshness, the need for excitement, the need for doing something not mundane is a great motivator (and de-motivator too). When one starts seeing things as stale and run-of-the-mill activities, one loses enthusiasm. On the other hand, when one sees something as new and different, it becomes exciting.

I went on to tell myself many more “First times” till I landed with “First time going to office today.” I do this almost every day now.

Every day, every moment is a first. It’s never happened before and it will never happen again. Scholars and seers preach that one should practice living in the moment. Having read and heard learned people talk about living in the moment, it took a trigger from my son’s “First Time with Specs,” to help me realize the joy in actually living in the moment. It helped me with a method to practice this state of mind.

I don’t claim to have mastered living in the moment but as I practice the “First Time” technique, I surely feel lighter and happier.

So, this is my first blog post with new specs (bifocals) and I’ve enjoyed writing it.

Go on. Try it yourself too. It may just work.

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As the Lights Go Out

Old Age

There were the times when energy was high,

I strode in pride, almost thought I could fly.

The world in my fist, I could do all I wanted,

Those times moved on, my spirit yet undaunted.

 

The Lights were strong,

And I moved along.

 

Slow became the pace of many a thing,

As grew up my offspring.

I changed my role changed from doer to guard,

Not wanting their lives to be in any manner scarred.

 

The lights were bright,

All was still in my sight.

 

Things have changed, I’ve lost some abilities,

I hear less, see dim, need medical facilities.

I walk slow, I run not, I talk less,

To others, I don’t want to be an object of stress.

 

The lights are dim,

But life is bright, not grim.

 

As the lights go out, I still enjoy,

What’s provided by the Divine ploy.

I pray, I do what good I can,

I’m thankful that I’ve had a glorious span.

 

As the lights get dimmer,

I now see the soft glimmer.

 

I wish people knew the things I undergo,

I yearn to tell so they would know.

I wish people knew the joy of getting someone to hear,

About all I’ve been through, of people and things dear.

 

The lights dim, steady, take me along,

And take me forward on my ever happy song.

 

 

Notes: Written to express the feelings of my father.

 

When the Lights Go Out

Disney Princesses

When the lights go off, I go to sleep.

When I sleep, dreams creep.

I dream about Barbies, Disney Princesses and my school.

My dreams are really cool.

Once I got a dream of Disney Princesses costumes

There was an Ariel one which I wore in my room.

When I tried to take it out,

The long brown hair of the Ariel costume came out.

It was stuck to my hair and I got long hair.

I was very happy with my long hair.

So, I like the night when the lights go out,

Beacuse it gives awesome dreams throughout.

 

Written by my 6-year old daughter – Stuti for the topic “When the Lights Go Out” for the Let Poetry Be session at Atta Galatta on 17-Nov, 2018

Kuup Manduk – People are like frogs in their wells

Frog in a well

Change is the most natural thing around us. Yet it the most resisted occurrence with a lot of people. People look for permanence, for stability, for an unchanging situation. They get comfortable with their situations and prefer to remain in that state forever. The longer they stay in a situation, the more resistant they become to change. Till a day, they are forced to change – mostly in a manner that they are extremely uncomfortable with. Change is inevitable and yet people don’t want change. They prefer to be like frogs in their wells – un-explorative, secluded in their own world, absorbed in their own ego, blanketed by the personality they have created for themselves.

I’ve wondered often – when things are obviously going to change and change is unavoidable, then why this craving for permanence? A permanent place to stay, an unchanging job environment, ever-happy relationships, adequacy of money always – these are some asks of people desiring permanence.

While on one hand, people seek permanence, they accept other changes like kids growing up, inflation, changing governments, the growing of trees around them – occurrences which are considered “natural”. So, the resistance is only to changes that people think need not occur. People also cause changes by themselves when they need to do so. For example, one looks out for a higher paying job when one’s income falls short of his or her earning goals. So, the resistance is not to any change, but selective changes.

On further thought, I would say that the resistance is essentially for changes which need that the person should change to adapt to the situation – changes which need that the person changes himself or herself in terms of thought, attitude and character. People are averse to internal change much more than external change.

One has to change, one does change – the question is just whether it is conscious or forced or situation-driven. When changes are not conscious, people resist them, they reject them, avoid them and try all their might to prevent them.

My take is that when change is unavoidable, it is easier to make it conscious. Being ready to change oneself is the best way to make oneself ready to take on external change. The more conscious and keen one is towards changing one’s thought and behavioural patterns, the easier it gets to accept external change. Change then becomes a part of life – in fact an acceptable part of life when it is accepted consciously.

While one can choose to be a “Frog in the Well”, one can also choose to be the butterfly which metamorphoses from an egg, to an ugly larva to a dormant pupa and to the finally beautiful and elegant butterfly – a source of joy for all who see it. Conscious change spreads positive feelings and beauty in and around oneself.

Of course what one wants to change into is another aspect. Change in thought and behaviour ought to be towards increasing one’s positivity, developing a vibrant outlook, donning a peaceful nature. That is a subject much larger than intended for this post.

To conclude this post:

  • Positive, self-inflicted change brings in the ability to take on external change and face the world as it throws up challenges.
  • Change towards a positive lifestyle brings in beauty and peace in one’s own life and in those of others around.

Overcome Fear

Overcome Fear

Who has overcome fears? I have!
We all can overcome the fears we have!

 

But when shall we win, can you say?

Here is the answer, I say!

 

We don’t know the day when fear will go.

So today is the day we Must let fear go!

 

If you overcome fear, you will feel great.

But how do we feel so great?

 

By taking shelter where we find it.

Like a blanket, like parents, like God, that it!

 

If you want to overcome something,

Do it today!

 

-Written by my 5-year old daughter on the topic “I Have Overcome” for the Let Poetry Be session

Think the Fear Away

Fear of Monsters 1

Fear is there in the mind,

How do you overcome and leave it behind?

Just think that you have no fear,

And your mind will become clear.

 

Fear stays, we sway.

We tremble and move,

Don’t know what to do.

 

The thoughts in your mind make you feel,

That this is a scary thing.

When your mind is free from this thought,

Fear loses its sting.

 

I used to be scared of monsters.

They used to come in my dreams all the time.

For days and nights I had this fear.

 

But when I was free of that thought,

I was free of myself.

So to overcome anything,

Overcome yourself.

 

I have overcome and you can too!!!

 

Fear is there in the mind,

How do you overcome and leave it behind?

Just think that you have no fear,

And your mind will become clear.

 

Fear stays, we sway.

We tremble and move,

Don’t know what to do.

 

The thoughts in your mind make you feel,

That this is a scary thing.

When your mind is free from this thought,

Fear loses its sting.

 

I used to be scared of monsters.

They used to come in my dreams all the time.

For days and nights I had this fear.

 

But when I was free of that thought,

I was free of myself.

So to overcome anything,

Overcome yourself.

 

I have overcome and you can too!!!

 

-Written by Naman, my 7-year old son on the theme “I Have Overcome” as part of Let Poetry Be session.

The Ant Overcame the Elephant – Or Did It?

Ant Lifting Elephant 2

It had climbed the toe nail of the mammoth,

This little ant – blind, lost, but sure of itself,

As it had a sense which led it through life,

Being able to recognize things by feel.

 

“I’m in a new place”, it thought feeling the toe nail,

“But I will overcome this and grow on.”

And it climbed upwards, its spirit soared too,

Higher till it reached the skin on top.

 

“I have overcome”, it thought,

“This huge new path, I am great”.

The feel of the skin was new yet again,

“Another new place? I have to go on further.”

 

It climbed onto the skin and explored hither tither,

There seemed no end to what it sensed now.

“I am lost, I have nowhere to go and no way to know”,

It thought as its spirit let go.

 

After a while of running around,

Tired of the aimless pursuits of something it still didn’t know,

It decided to move upward again, not knowing which way was upward,

Its spirit drove it and it trudged on the giant leg.

 

After what seemed like eternity, yet but just a moment for the mammoth,

Who was unaware of this little creature climbing its being,

The little ant felt a change of state,

As it hung upside down at the underbelly.

 

“I have overcome again, the vertical path,

But here I am upside down”, it thought.

“More peril, more challenge, but this too will pass”.

So thinking, it went across the elephant’s side.

 

And the huge, peaceful supporter of the ant’s tiny life,

With no clue of the little one’s existence went on as usual.

The ant all encompassed in its own thoughts so far,

Thought now of what it is upon that felt so huge.

 

The supporter of its life, moved along a bit,

The little ant took fright at the tremors as the giant moved.

It clutched on for dear life,

The supporter, the cause, now also its saviour, still unaware of its existence.

 

Now it gathered courage as it hadn’t fallen,

And moved yet again upwards despite the rocking surface.

Till it reached the top, horizontal yet again after long,

Riding the top in joy and safety.

 

“I’ve come all the way up and overcome this giant”,

It thought now, as peace was restored when the elephant stopped.

After a while, the ant still blissful,

Started its descent looking for its original terrain.

 

It had gone through all that an ant ever could,

Felt pride, fear, courage, joy and surrender,

Till it reached the pinnacle and felt lasting peace,

At having overcome – yet what it had, it still didn’t know.

 

It descended and reached plain ground,

Other ants were around, moving busily doing as was their wont.

This ant tried as it could to tell them to move upward,

They went on doing what they always did.

 

The ant had overcome and found peace,

It knew it had, and resumed life with the rest,

It knew not, yet it knew, what had changed within,

It’s Support, still unaware yet being the cause, the witness, the Everything for its change.

 

So it is with man and God,

Man the ant and God the elephant,

The ant had overcome the elephant –

Or had it?

 

Written as my entry for the Let Poetry Be session on 22nd Sep, 2018 for the theme “I Have Overcome”

The PMP® Certification Process – My Experience

PMP Certification

In December, 2017, I decided to do the PMP® certification. Being in the profession of Project and Program Management, I felt it’s a good-to-have certification. The larger driving force to achieve the certification was to check if whatever I’ve practiced so far in my career is industry-standard and relevant, while also learning to organize my work, or rather my thought patterns. So I took the plunge, enrolled into the training, became a member and started preparations.

When I discussed with a few friends and colleagues that I was targeting the certification, the response was mixed and mostly negative. Some samples:

  • It is not worth it
  • It is too theoretical
  • It only helps you get more job calls
  • It is not relevant to your role

….. and so on.

I was however also encouraged by a few to keep going. My sincere thanks to them. Yet, I don’t recall any specific messages of encouragement except a generalized statement that it’s good to go through the certification.

Here is my take after having taken the exam (and passed it too).

Systems and processes are not an easy or exciting area of study. Studying the Project Management Processes is not something that will excite someone (as is the case with the study of any process flow) – especially a working professional with limited time to spend with family. People generally resist complying with processes, so having to study them is even worse. Neither does just getting PMP® certified doesn’t assure anything in terms of career growth.

Still, I would certainly recommend going through the certification.

When I look through the way PMI has organized the entire Project Management flow, I find that it is been a humongous effort to organize what a Project Manager does or can do. It is really a great effort!

Having gone through the entire contents of the PMBOK®, I’m proud of my profession. It reiterates the value that a Project Manager can add to the organization and the importance of being a good Project or Program Manager.

My positive experiences in the whole process of going through the certification are as below:

  • The PMBOK® guide is generally well structured (which is expected from a book of its nature). Once a reader gets used to the pattern, its’ an easy read.
  • The PMBOK® guide would be very useful when one actually starts applying the Project Management Processes in real life situations. Having gone through book and the exam, I keep relating my ongoing works to the relevant processes that I’m following. I’m sure over a period of time, it would be really great in terms of organizing what I do and setting priorities.
  • The exam itself is quite interesting. With a small percentage of questions being direct or theory oriented, most of the questions are application oriented. One needs to think and apply all the knowledge gained during the examination. For Project Managers who generally love challenges, the exam is a challenge by itself. I enjoyed going through the exam and am really impressed by the nature and standard of the questions.
  • The pattern established for keeping the certification alive is another aspect I look forward to. I’m not saying I don’t have any resistance to earning the PDUs. It does feel drab and a pain in the neck. But I must concede that the system is definitely good. One must be concurrent and must keep learning. The system of earning PDUs to keep the certification valid ensures this. I do see value in this approach to ensuring Project Professionals remain up-to-date on their know-how.
  • The analysis of the exam is done quite intelligently. It gives a crisp summary of where one’s knowledge and experience is strong and improvement areas.

All in all, my opinion is that apart from being a test of knowledge, the PMP® exam actually tests experience – and that’s what makes the exam really relevant and interesting.

It would have been helpful if the exam centre has offered water, coffee and maybe a small snack during the 4-hour ordeal of an exam. But then one can’t have everything.

I’m glad I went through the certification, glad I did well and do recommend that people in this profession go through the process.

The “I Want to Control” Syndrome

Controlling People

One of the interesting truths I learnt recently while doing my training for PMP® certification is that “Human Resources cannot be controlled”.

Yet managers believe they can do so. Humans in general, and leads or managers in particular come with this feeling that they must and can “Control” everything. Everything and everyone must work as they wish. A command from them MUST be implemented. They need to have control. This briefly explains the “I Want to Control” syndrome, as I have called it. The “I Want to Control” syndrome causes in a person, the desire to control both man and machines. Machines, of course, are relatively simple prey to the inflicted person. But people are a different ball game altogether.

People aren’t machines. In my opinion, this is an essential understanding for a manager. Managing work and managing people go hand in hand. Hence people management is a key factor for a manager’s success in delivering results. An obvious yet important understanding is that; people don’t work and respond to situations based on algorithms (at least none have been clearly defined so far by the existing branches of science). People react to situations based on past experiences, current situations, their moods and so many other variables. The same person could react differently on separate occasion to a similar issue. If there is anything most unpredictable in a work environment – it’s people.

A lot of managers – especially the new generation ones think that they can manage (read control) people with authority. Personally, I believe in the line “Power is powerful as long as you don’t use it” (I forget who wrote this by my acknowledgements to him/her). When it comes to getting people to do something, power and authority are only the last-resort mechanisms, which may, for a while force someone to act in a particular way. In the long term however, repeated use of authority can end up in putting off people and losing them. Still, most humans in general (and managers in particular) addicted to the “I Want to Control” syndrome think that power and authority are their tools.

I wonder where people get the idea from, that others will do their bidding if and only if forced to. If one asks oneself whether he or she would do something just because he or she is forced to; or because he or she is likely to lose out for not doing it – the answer is most likely NO. People hate to be forced around, people dislike being pushed around or bullied. Countries have fought against the use of force to gain independence, social changes have worked and are working towards enabling free thought and action. And yet, humans have an inherent tendency to force other humans.

In the context of managers, I find this syndrome very prevalent. Juniors are told they HAVE TO comply with a certain line of action else lose their position or role. When addressing team members, a manager emphasizes several times the need to adhere strictly to operational methods. This all stems from the “I Want to Control” syndrome.

I’m not saying that managers must not be in control. The question is what must one control and can that control really be exercised. The subject of controlling machines is not the topic of my writing here. It’s about people and whether people can be controlled. Well my answers:

  • Yes – for short durations using authority
  • No – in the long term

The long term answer is to win over people, share the common vision, and create an environment conducive for people to enjoy their work and deliver based on their understanding of their roles and responsibilities rather than imposition.

More on this later. (I dislike posts which run into multiple pages).

I am free.

Freedom

I have to study – so I am not free.

When I play, I am free.

But not fully, I can’t make mistakes.

Wrong moves and penalty I must take.

 

So, to do the right thing, I am free.

 

Being able to do anything we want, is freedom.

In this world, nobody has freedom.

We have to work under someone,

We can make choices, but not every one.

 

So, to do the right thing, I am free.

 

You are free to do the wrong thing.

But to do it, you will have to give something.

You should not do it because you will have to suffer.

If you do, you will turn into a duffer.

 

So, to do the right thing, I am free.

 

Only God has freedom.

So God is freedom.

 

Karma means what you have to do in your Dharma.

 

So, to do the right thing, I am free.