Dear Sania and every Indian Girl

Sania-Mirza

My Latest article on Famous Parenting published on 22nd July, 2016

I just bought your autobiography ‘Ace against odds’ yesterday and finished it this morning. In twenty four hours, while going through your journey, I felt like being in many different shoes. I felt like your mother when I began, I could feel the consistent, effortful drive of your father, I felt like India – our country and of course, I tried to feel your determination, your fears, your quests and your responses.

Every Indian child and his/her parents should read it so that we can have more happy, confident and responsible adults for future.

Decision of Your Parents:

When your parents decided to come back from USA after spending a year there, you were barely four years old. But the decision revolved around you. They felt that they would be able to give you a better life (swimming, skating, badminton classes) in India.

You could have achieved the same results living in USA too, given your talent and determination, but your parents decided keeping your happiness in mind. There were no big dreams attached, there were no expectations being nurtured. Since you were an ‘outdoor child’ who loved to play, they wanted you to be happy learning these games. It is so essential for parents to observe their children, their interests and let them explore those areas.

Support from Parents

Your mother spent a lot of her time with you in your initial years and that presence has been the most valuable in boosting up your morale and confidence. Having one of your parents by your side must have had a reassuring and calming effect on you.

The discipline and dedication of practising every-day at a young age, balancing school work and other activities prepared you for your future hectic schedules. The vision of your father that ‘impossible feats could be achieved’ is heartening. He believed in you, stood by you and mentored you. That is commendable. But what struck me as a parent and a leader was his words during the break of your Wimbledon Doubles Final last year.

It was a divine moment in the third set when you and Martine Hingis were at 5-all and the covering of the roof (as it was getting dark) took you to green room.Without losing his calm, he told you “This is an unbelievable final. You both should be proud of the way you have fought back. Irrespective of what happens in the rest of the match, nobody can take away this from you. So go there, enjoy and give your best.” This is what most parents fail to do. They induce fear at crucial moments and make success/winning as the ultimate goal which is so detrimental in the long run. Let me accept it: I am a greater fan of your parents than you. They are amazing human beings and superb parents. More power to their breed.

Love For Tennis

You loved tennis – that’s how it all started. The fame, the awards & rewards, the media frenzy are all by-products of your passion – focussed, consistent and brutal. I call it brutal as it costed injuries, surgeries on the physical level and many necessary and unnecessary upheavals on the psychological level. Since “I love tennis” echoes in your ears, throbs in your heart and gives you goose bumps even today, you are a little legend, little in age and legend in achievements.

Destiny, talent, hard work and circumstances prepare a unique concoction for all of us. The difference between a losing and winning outcome is a very thin line.

Success and fame is incidental. Your success is not as inspiring as your consistent hard work. I salute your acute determination to come back from the brink each time you were written off or you wanted to hang your boots.

Thank you for inspiring so many by living a life laced with conviction and confidence. Continue on the same lines, little legend. Your ace against odds is needed and that too badly.

****

I am an Author, Entrepreneur, Motivational Speaker, Parenting expert based in Mumbai. Having written Bestsellers like Don’t Raise Your Children, Raise Yourself (Amazon Bestseller), Why Women Are What They Are, Come On! Get Set Go

I am running Life Lemonade which offers unique Training Programs on Life Transformation, High Performance Leadership, Women Issues and Parenting.

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POKEMON GO: The Beginning of a new fearful saga

Pokemon

While reading about incubation lab of Google, I had read about Niantic – the business unit set up to create an augmented reality platform. While we were waiting for AR to change our construction methodologies or revolutionize our surgeries, it has turned the whole world into a gaming zone by introducing an amazingly entertaining but dreadfully dangerous game – POKEMON GO.

Though till yesterday, I felt that it is a hype that surrounds every new product, however mundane or miraculous. I felt that children are merely snap-chatting & talking about a new game.

But, the more I read, researched and thought about it, the more scared I felt.

It has the power to change our interactions with ourselves and with our social circle. It can gate-crash into our brains erasing the difference between imagination and reality. It can create a new personal version of reality, tampering with our existing ways of looking at it.

Are we ready for a saga that has started to unfold through Pokemon Go?

It is a free-to-play, GPS based augmented reality mobile game developed by Niantic for IOS and Android devices.

Players move around glued to their phones while they catch Pokemon on the go. They search in real locations called Pokestops while playing on their phones. Hold your smartphone in front of you, follow a real time interactive map that shows you where your quarry is hiding. Once you reach the locations, “capture” the critter after which you can train it, fight it or do whatever.

It has released only in USA, Australia and New Zealand but millions of users across the world (including India) have side-loaded the game and have started playing it on the roads.

On the surface, I could think of a few areas where such a game could prove detrimental for the hooked players.

  1. Physical Safety Issues: People are moving around without bothering about coming cars or entering into places like police stations. They can get hurt or get into problems anytime.

Selfies are causing lot of ignorant and meaningless accidents. Pokemon Go will intensify the issues of carelessness and impulsive, reckless behavior.

It is scarier for us because more people died taking Selfies in India than in any other country till February 2016.

  1. Crime Instigation: Players can use it to lure people to a specific place using this game and it may lead to thefts, rape, murders.

A robbery has already happened in Missouri. Police at Missouri said that the four teenage robbers used the game to lure victims by putting a beacon at a location to draw in players.

  1. ­Net Addiction / Screen Addiction: Within a week of its release, people are using it more than apps like Whatsapp, Tinder, Snap-chat or fb messenger. According to Similarweb, the average time spent on this app is 43minutes, 23 seconds a day which is much higher than what it is for above mentioned apps. Imagine teenagers getting hooked by this awesome game or office goers being allured to look for Pokemon in and around office.
  1. Road Accidents: People might start playing it while driving. Earlier they were talking or texting while being behind the wheels, now they might be hunting for Pokemon. We cannot imagine that kind of a scenario unless it happens and leaves us shocked.
  1. Psychological Dangers: While playing these Augmented Reality Games, children/older people might get so immersed in the digitally enhanced world that they will lose touch with what is happening in the real world.

We cannot fathom the extent of changes it can cause to human brain till we receive some actual data on impact of using Augmented Reality for fun.

There are certain positive impacts also that I can think of:

  1. Kids are outside and walking. They are exercising as they hunt for Pokemons, leaving their sedentary lifestyles.
  2. It is new and so much fun. Every person who has played the game has enjoyed it thoroughly and is raving about the fun quotient.
  3. Parents are spending more time with their children as they walk behind them while they are playing outside. Indian Parents are following their teenagers to Pokestops because they are afraid that the children might get into trouble.

But if you want to run and have fun outside with your family and friends through a game, try Supersuit (http://www.wearsupersuit.com) designed by an amazingly talented Mr. Rajat Dhariwal, Founder of www.madratgames.com which will keep you entertained, sane as well as safe.

Let AR be used for serious causes, not for fun which could lead to sad and serious repercussions.

References:

Dipa Karmakar and Nadia Comaneci: Parenting & Leadership Lessons

Dipa Karmakar.jpgNadia Comaneci.jpg

When I was a child, it was fun to watch Olympic Games on T.V. (1984 – 1996 perhaps). Nadia Comaneci was one of the most loved gymnast whose name and achievements were mentioned during every gymnastic competition despite the fact that she was a champion in 1976 & 1980 Olympics.

She scored an unprecedented 10 in gymnastics at 1976 Olympics game at an age of 14. With a sudden rise of Dipa Karmakar in India, we have become charmed with words like Produnova and gymnastics. Gymnastics has found a special mention in our dinner table conversations and it will perhaps hold some importance for us till Olympics 2016 get over.

  • Nadia achieved success with a lot of effort but ease because her country Romania had a culture for this game and she was fourteen when she nailed the perfect score. There was no pressure on her to perform in 1976 and a girl that age in that time didn’t acknowledge the pressure even if it existed. She agreed in a recent interview that performing at 1980 Olympics was far more challenging than 1976 as she understood far more then.

Closer home, the situation is different. Gymnastics in its western avatar doesn’t come easy to us like cricket or chess. Dipa has already fought against many odds to achieve this feat with extreme focus and discipline.

We cannot forget that she is twenty two with a newly found fame at a critical professional juncture.

Let us leave her alone as parents, leaders and as a nation. Let us support her by letting her be. Let us not ply on and burden her with our wishes guised in expectations.

As parents, we are guilty of wishing the best for our children while giving them the message of “being the best among the lot.”

As leaders, we are guilty of appreciating and acknowledging the final ten on ten or a successful Produnova act while conveniently discarding the long journey of focussed effort which could have gone awry. Our success obsessed leadership styles with very limited editions of success definitions, cause a lot of stress and unwanted expectations. This futile stress clutters our minds and life.

  • A twenty two year old engineering student from Mumbai had suddenly disappeared from her home just before her exams. Though she had supportive parents, a good academic record and a placement, she still felt a disenchantment and disappointment with her achievements. Fortunately, Mumbai Police and the family found her in Kochi and brought her back safe.

The normal chatter among friends about dream jobs and dream lifestyles made her feel inadequate and left behind.

Let’s get to the root of this pressure which secretly builds up during all our conversations with children, students, friends and colleagues. We emphasize on “great package equals great life”. We appreciate all those who top classes and competitions when our experience tell us that toppers do not essentially top in life (as if even that is necessary). Let me put it more blatantly – How many of us were toppers in schools/college/theatre/sports or any other interest.

We, as parents and leaders need to be more objective and disambiguate our childhood and success memories. To motivate our children and teams, we mention our hard work, our achievements as if we are a by-product of success (magnified by our biased memory remnants).

Let us share the truth – filled with mistakes, laced with disappointments, sprinkled with accomplishments – with our children and our followers.

Dipa Karmakar, there is a tougher task ahead for your parents and mentor-coach. I am proud of you for your sheer grit and discipline focus. The only difference your successful Produnova makes to me is that I suddenly know you. Honestly does that matter to you? I know, it doesn’t and it should not.