“TWO BLACK SWANS”

Two Balck Swans.jpg“A BLACK SWAN” is an unthinkable event that massively affects our life, our career, our company, our country.

There are positive and negative swans, says Nassim Taleb in his book “Black Swan”.

But there are certain Black Swans which seem positive and turn out to be completely negative in the long run and vice versa. Black Swans often destroy our best laid plans.

Last week witnessed two black swans in a row. Demonetisation of Indian Currency and Election of new President in USA will massively impact our lives, our careers, our nations & our world.

Difference between Hillary & Trump is the difference between risk & uncertainty.

Risk means that probabilities are known. With Hillary, we knew her political weaknesses and hence, we could fathom the risk involved.

Uncertainty means that the probabilities are unknown. With Trump, we have entered a world which might turn out to be something not imagined ever.

Indian lifestyle before and after November 9, 2016 will be similarly distinct.

Could the Government have experimented by reducing tax rates for a year before cracking the demonetisation whip? When a democratic leader thunders “I will not leave any dishonest person”, it evokes fear because it comes from a person who has been a part of this dishonest system. Every political leader who has won an Indian Election has been a part of a complete corrupt process.

Corruption is personal as well as institutional. The chest thumping, moist eyed Indian will love the melodramatic speeches thinking that they are contributing to Swachch Bharat Abhiyan. An autocratic approach disguised as ‘Sudden Patriotism’ should be analysed. A vocal nation like India should surely reflect before voicing out exaggerated positive or negative responses.

The timing of the Indian Black Swan corresponds to the ‘Peak End Rule’, conceptualised by Daniel Kahneman. We tend to judge an event by how it was at its peak and at the end. We only remember our feelings at the peak and at the end of a particular event, like a film or a five year period.

We are witnessing the peak of Mr. Modi’s term and we will see an amazing end in 2019 after the dip of 2017 – 18.

The move has numerous advantages but a better execution and several supporting moves were surely needed. A nation is not our toy train which we can run on our fancies.

There are protests in United States and lot of support for the move in India. Let us hope that both Black Swans turn out to be positive as we move forward.

 

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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.

Connect with me on Linkedin, Twitter @drswatilodha Facebook

Also read my best articles here!

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Action or Reflection: Your immediate choice

action-or-reflection

An Israeli researcher Michael Bar – Eli studied hundreds of penalty shoot-outs in soccer. In a penalty shootout, the ball takes less than 0.3 seconds to travel from the shooter to the goal. This is certainly not enough time for the goalkeepers to assess the ball’s trajectory. As a result, they need to decide beforehand what to do.

Study of various penalty shootouts shows that players who take penalty kicks shoot one third of the time at the middle of the goal, one third of the time at the left and one third of the time at the right. But the goalkeepers always either dive to the left or the right. Why?

Because it looks more impressive and less embarrassing to dive to the wrong side than to freeze on the spot and watch the ball sail past. This is called action bias – look active, even if it achieves nothing.

“Don’t sit, wait and watch – do something” is our life mantra.

We are descendants of hunters – who needed lightning fast reactions for survival. But our world is different. Still, we end up taking action without reflection.

Why is it torturous to wait & watch? Why is it bothersome to be seen idle? Why is it socially important to appear busy or engaged?

Think about situations where your immediate intervention might have worsened it when your sure intention was to be of some help.

When your kids fight and you manifest yourself as a saviour, you might add fuel to the fire by your presence.

Support – too much, too soon, might turn into a handicap. I have seen many retired people who keep themselves extremely occupied because they don’t want to feel ‘out of work, out of use’.

Replying immediately to tweets and online posts also shows our penchant towards taking immediate action, albeit through words.

In his book, The Art of Thinking Clearly, Rolf Dobelli says that society at large still prefers rash action to a sensible wait & watch strategy.

This surely doesn’t mean that a quick action is always unwarranted. A quick action for the sake of appearing active and involved is. Not taking a quick action is not same as inaction. In critical situations like a military/medical emergency, we need to act fast but in verbal arguments/brawls, a reflected and delayed action reaps better results.

Think:

Are you a mother who gets involved in every part of your child’s life because you are ‘at home’ to raise him/her?(Check your parenting style here Don’t Raise Your Children, Raise Yourself (Amazon Bestseller))

Are you a leader who is always behind schedule due to numerous meetings/appointments/review meetings?

 

 

Tata Tales – Lessons for Life

tata-logoTata – the experience is a part of our lives, knowingly or unknowingly, directly or indirectly when we might be buying our coffee, trendy jewellery piece or a watch, our first car, our five star stay, a pen drive or a packet of salt. It enters indirectly into our lives through their steel, chemicals, and IT interests spread globally.

The brand has stayed with many generations as a rock solid companion in rational and irrational ways. When I was a child and I came to know that Taj Group of Hotels belonged to Tata Group, I felt so happy.

As I brewed a passion for Parenting & Leadership, I found Ratan Tata to be an extremely exemplary Parent. He is my favourite Parent.

Remember, I always believe in Parenting to be an emotion and the most sacred form of Leadership.

Parents are emotional leaders who love to work with people – give chances to them, show confidence in them, encourage them and empower them.

Parents are also silent strategists who deliberately show that they have relegated all powers to their progeny when they actually keep track of overall family environment and the ensuing sentiments.

They are a dangerously determined lot who can lead any crisis at any hour when it involves their children in whom they have invested themselves.

The emotion that we experience with the brand TATA is far deeper than the rare crisis Tata Group has stormed into.

There are various theories being propounded at the moment about whys, hows and what nows. The imminent lessons learnt are:

  1. CULTURE IS STILL IMPORTANT: Culture doesn’t mean symbols. It doesn’t mean teary advertisements. Culture means the core values that you most certainly stand for.

Culture is deep rooted to have an impact. You cannot start fiddling with long standing norms in the name of staying relevant with changing times.

The longer a tree has been around, the deeper and stronger the roots are. The older the trunk of such a tree is, the denser the branches would be.

When it shakes itself even a bit, it causes a storm. It is pretty problematic to strive to re-engineer the roots of such a tree, even if it offers less shade or fruits.

Respecting the roots before championing change is required. Change for longevity and growth of the tree is needed but a young branch cannot steer a new action plan without taking the trunk into confidence.

  1. ACTIONS ALWAYS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS: No amount of verbal or written jugglery can explain the sudden and shocking action.

Such an action without words can only result when the danger is much deeper than what meets the eye.

Such an action goes against corporate ethics of the behemoth. Wouldn’t the conglomerate know that in certain terms?

If such an action is still taken which has a rippling effect forever, it surely means that it was urgently required for reasons that are unknown and will remain so.

A sensible and relevantly active parent like Mr. Tata who understands the present pulse of the new start-up energy, cannot falter in decision making with his first child.

His speedy, sudden, shocking action cannot be frivolous or without thought.

  1. SUCCESSION PLANNING NEEDS CAREFUL THOUGHT, LONG NURTURING AND OODLES OF LUCK: Succession Planning is a dark horse in our scenario planning. It suddenly becomes the most relevant decision for the road forward. A time consuming shaping up is mandatory. Nothing can replace ‘time factor’ in grooming the right person for the tough job. Starting something from scratch is far easier than fitting into famous, droolworhty shoes.

Despite of right genes and perfect grooming, a successor can fail to fulfil the expectations for a number of unexplainable reasons. Call it luck or call it market sentiment. A worthy successor is harder to find if the predecessor is a legend.

Anyone in this role could have faltered. The road ahead is fraught with ‘urgency to choose a dependable younger successor’ while humming “the once bitten twice shy” tune.

The experience called TATA will live. The story called TATA becomes more interesting and ground-breaking now.

Read to Lead – 3 Ways of Reading to Remember

Bookshelf

There are readers and there are non-readers.

Those who love to read, thrive on books and read plenty of them. As it happens with everything, we forget 84% of whatever we read within 24 hours. It is difficult to forget how it made us feel though.

I had a fight with a school friend quarter of a century ago. I don’t remember what caused the heated exchange but I can’t forget the hurt it caused. We remember the feeling if it is intense- positive or negative.

When a poignant page becomes wet, I can feel the closeness to that book after decades though I don’t remember anything that was written on that page.

I read masterpieces by Any Rand, Plato, Amrita Pritam, Mahasweta Devi and many other writers but I don’t remember what it gave me at the time I read it. What I remember is that I considered it as a truly unforgettable experience then.

Does it happen with all of you or I need to pull up my mind for being absent?

I derived a small game plan to make the most of my reading by keeping it alive through these steps:

Underline. Highlight, Write: Never start reading a book without a pencil in your hand or within your hand’s reach. (I don’t read a newspaper without having a scissor in proximity – I stupidly collect articles, dated and underlined in various files titled Technology, Society, Management, Entertainment, etc)

Never shy away from using a pencil beneath lines, especially if it is a small print tome.

I even write words like “Beautiful’, ‘Wonderful’, “Share it’ in the margins to keep me excited when I randomly revisit those pages.

It might be amusing at times to realize that I don’t find those words as ‘beautiful’ or ‘wonderful’ as I found them the first time. At times, I find them as beautiful or even more insightful. It helps me to gauge the change in myself over the years.

If this is not enough, I write down the important page numbers on the empty page on the side of preface/foreword.

Those written page numbers help me five/ten years later to relive, re-enjoy the same feeling.

On Kindle, I highlight/note/email important paragraphs to myself.

Underlining is like touching an exquisite place of jewellery or appreciating the fabric of a new dress.

Writing on the margins is like neatly packing the jewellery or the dress for future use.

Repeat: I have a bookshelf in my mind marked “interesting” and I put a few nuggets on it every-day which I repeat to someone the same day. The receiver could be my daughter, my husband, my students or my audience online or offline.

I push myself to verbally share interesting – informative stuff the very same day. If you are thinking about the context, that can be created. If nothing else works, I say – “I discovered a diamond in this statement/fact/anecdote today”.

Don’t feel awkward by the reaction which can range between a yawn or a clap (my daughter rolls her eyes often!). You did it for yourself. You repeated it to keep it in your mind longer.

If you don’t get any listener (they are always hard to find), write it the way I am writing it right now.

I read about some inspiring and painful Olympic stories today and I will repeat them after hunting for some listener.

Children and Subordinates are good prey to repeat what you just read!

Random Read: For staying active, I generally read four to five books at one go. Though I never finish them together as the more interesting ones reach the finishing line while others languish close to the starting line, I try to mix and match.

I re-read a book while I am reading 2 – 3 new books.

It keeps me connected with my feelings and helps me make better use of what I cherish.

Re-reading is like visiting your old school gate or hugging an uncle after years.

There are so many floodgates of memories that get opened.

My three pronged strategy might benefit you.

What is your ‘read to lead’ strategy?

Dipa Karmakar and Nadia Comaneci: Parenting & Leadership Lessons

moonparenting

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…

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She Died While She Was Alive

Being Alive

 

This is be the one line epitaph I intend to have engraved on every heart when I say my final good bye.

The dictionary meaning of the word “Life’ revolves around:

  1. The condition of being alive.
  2. The period for which an organism exists.
  3. The feeling of vitality, energy and growth.

If one mechanically wants to go through the drudgery of ticking the boxes, you can certainly tick on (b), but you might need to check the coordinates of your event called life before ticking on (a) and (c).

From an ailing bed ridden man to a high flying CEO, all of us certainly exist for a period called life. We exist till we breathe. It gives us immense satisfaction, though unconscious, that we are a part of an ever surprising saga called life.

Do we actually flex our mental muscles to find out other signs of being alive apart from breathing and being there?

The condition of being alive assumes that we are mindful of what is happening inside and outside us.

Do we think about how efficiently our bones, muscles, glands, cells and viscera work every second unless we feel a pain somewhere?

We only pay attention to the wondrous working of our body when it gives us some discomfort. Till then, we use it day in and day out without being ‘alert’ or ‘mindful’.

We create an eternity of urgency around our mundane lives giving a childish impression to ourselves of being very busy in something of real importance. We run through the alleys of our occupied brain at a high speed without having any time to find out what occupies the crevices of the brain.

Our insecurities keep us glued to a life which might be more close to ‘mere existence’ than ‘energy or vitality’ of any kind.

Fear of losing what we have, fear of being judged, ridiculed or written off, and fear of failure keeps us bonded to an existence which doesn’t let us grow or evolve.

The repetitive boredom can erode our mental, emotional faculties if we don’t make an attempt to recharge and reignite our batteries.

I don’t mind being unhappy or sad because feeling unhappy is better than feeling nothing.

I think about ninety year old Mahashweta Devi, the legendary author and activist who lived a vital life till her last breath. She survived her two divorces and fought indecisive, often hopeless battles for tribals. Taking all setbacks in her stride, she never stopped persisting. Then, my thought goes towards those millennials who write a suicide note and say good bye. We are failing as a society, as a community to propagate liveliness of life.

We must choose life for life, not for being a happy life or sad life.

It is a crime to be living a day without feeling kicked about it. It is alright to feel depressed or useless as long as it pushes us to stay alive to make it better.

As an individual, I owe it to myself to be mindful of each day I live. I intend to feel varied emotions every hour. I choose to feel alive.

As a parent, I owe it to my children to make them understand the difference between ‘living life’ and ‘leading life’. I want them to feel the tangy taste of failure and bitter taste of anger along with sweet/savoury taste of happiness. I wish to refine their taste buds to enjoy all tastes of life. I wish them to wait and yearn for different tastes each day rather than safely stick to one taste that they like.

Being alive everyday means loving life every day in whatever form it chooses to surprise us. Being alive every day is a challenge to die for.

Choose it now.

Be Happy, Healthy & Hopeful: Three Things Women Must Aim For

Happy-Health-Hope-HeadMy Latest Article for Women published on http://www.sheroes.com on 2nd August, 2016

Be Happy, Healthy & Hopeful: Three Things Women Must Aim For

Recently, I was delivering a session for research scholars at an IIT, and I was happy to see that around 25% of attendees were women. After the session, we were informally discussing the priorities of life. To remain hopeful is a challenge, said one of the girls.

It had me thinking about what women should aim for.

As mentioned in my book Why women are what they are, I believe women lead two lives–an internal ‘dream life’ and an external visible life. They do things more out of expectation and not out of intention.

There are women who act according to family norms, social etiquette and worry about how others will perceive them. There are women who solitarily nurture their inner self and do not bother about people, society, and norms whatsoever. There are women who are aware of both lives and they balance them both, gradually converging the internal and external lives.

Since women are mentally and emotionally far stronger than men, they tend to ignore their mental and emotional well-being.  In societies and communities of India, men are expected to give financial support while women are expected to provide all the other support. With a lot of stereotypes biting the dust in this digital age, we need to reaffirm and reset our priorities.

Besides money required for sustaining ourselves, women must take care of our happiness, health and hope:

Happiness

Most women concentrate on taking care of their families, their homes and neglect themselves. The are so consumed–in maintaining a perfect home, looking after their spouse and kids, balancing jobs, elder care–that they are too tired to look within. They suffer from a burnout as they do things to fulfil expectations; not because they want to.

Women remain unhappy as they allow others to take over. They believe in the image of themselves as created by their near and dear (?) ones, which could be strikingly different from their real selves.

In Rajasthan, I would come across many women who thrived on adventure, loved to experiment but lived a conservative, orthodox life stagnating in a time warp. Women remain unhappy when they ruminate. They keep going back to painful memories of the past and keep rewinding them for daily consumption. It keeps the pain alive.

As they start enjoying their emotionally drained status, women start enjoying unhappiness. It is not only unfair; it is illogical too. Women must work towards forgetting the pain inflicted in any form and start living happily in the present. We need to choose to stay happy.

Health

Women ignore their health because they are deeply engrossed in making each day a perfect day for their families. They keep postponing the regular check-ups and they keep thinking that diseases happen to others. It is hard to detect depressed women as they don’t admit to their mental agony or issues that they can’t sort out on their own.

Women should remember that ‘tomorrow is a disease’ when it comes to exercising and health check-ups. Today is the time to begin, and it should be adhered to every year.

Women need to be aware of their family history and diseases that they are predisposed to. Neglecting health is one of the biggest disservices that women can do to themselves, because men are always taken care of when it comes to health.

There is no age to start taking care of your health. It is our daily duty towards ourselves to eat healthy, on time and to exercise.

Hope

Women get disappointed more, because they are deeply connected to the lives of so many family members–parents, husband, kids, siblings–and something keeps going wrong somewhere all the time.

It is so important for women to keep their spirits high and help others stay hopeful. A friend of mine recently had her nephew hospitalised with a kidney ailment. At the same time, her father was diagnosed with lung cancer. As she was busy helping her mother and brother, she felt guilty of not looking after her teenage daughter well. It lasted more than a year and she felt so low on hope.

Women need their daily dose of hope to sail through myriad responsibilities they eagerly shoulder. Friends, audiobooks and books can be the greatest disappointment-buster for women. Talking to friends and asking for help gives strength and stamina to march on.

Search for HOPE, strive for HAPPINESS and work towards your HEALTH before thinking about the next task.